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In Egypt vote, families debate on generation lines
The Brotherhood joined the anti-Mubarak protests, touts itself as part of the revolution and has a strong youth activist contingent. But in the eyes of some of the young, the 82-year-old, secretive Brotherhood led by septuagenarians is just as much a part of the “old regime” — it was Mubarak’s chief opponent during his rule, but the rivalry intertwined it in the system.
In the middle class village of Kerdasa not far from the Giza Pyramids, Mohammed Saleh looked dismayed at a polling center transformed into a beehive of Brotherhood supporters. For him, the group has “deceptive” ways that resemble Mubarak‘s.
The young accountant with thick glasses said his mother was voting for Morsi. “I asked, ‘Why, mom?’ She said a doctor treating her at a hospital told her to. This is how they brainwash people’s minds.”
“They give people food at low prices. They sell cooking gas cylinders for five pounds (80 cents), while outside it is sold for almost six times that price,” he said, referring to the Brotherhood’s extensive charity organizations, which critics see as a way of buying popular support.
Outside a polling station in northern Cairo, Injy Khairi rested with her two young friends on a bench after standing in the long line to vote. Khairi told of friends who hid their parents’ national ID cards — which voters must show to poll officials — to keep them from voting for “feloul.”
Rafaat al-Gamal, an engineer in his fifties who backs Shafiq, said he doesn’t care if his friends call him “feloul.”
“This is Egypt, not a banana republic,” he said. “The president must be a warrior like Shafiq. Do you want to give it to Islamists,” who he said want to monopolize power just like Mubarak’s ruling party once did.
Opponents of Shafiq and Moussa fear that they will do nothing to dismantle Mubarak’s deeply rooted autocratic system, reliant on fear of police and riddled with corruption and patronage among officials, the military and businessmen. Shafiq is always remembered with a quote he gave during a TV interview saying, “My model is Mubarak.”
Many of the young said that if either of the two wins, sooner or later, protesters will return to the streets to demand change, as they did in the 18-day anti-Mubarak uprising centered on Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
“I told my parents, if Amr Moussa wins, you won’t see an empty inch in Tahrir Square,” so many protesters will turn out, said 28-year-old Ibrahim Haroun, a salesman living in Cairo’s Dar el-Salam slum.
“We are like a baby crawling toward democracy … The first thing is to get rid of old leadership, the old business class backed by the army,” he said. “My parents don’t see that.”
Voting dynamics are tough to judge. Some fear the “revolution” vote will be split between Abolfotoh and Sabahi. But then the “stability” vote is split between Shafiq and Moussa. The Brotherhood has a powerful electoral machine, but Abolfotoh has siphoned away Islamist voters. Many voters who don’t identify as Islamist but backed the Brotherhood in last year’s parliamentary elections have since grown disillusioned with it.
By Donald Lambro
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