Islamist Mohamed Morsi Wins Egyptian Election: Inside Tahrir Square
What happened to the Arab Spring? With Mohamed Morsi winning the presidential election, some fear Egypt is heading for an Islamic-fascist rule. Erin Banco reports from Tahrir Square. Plus, Tarek Masoud on Mubarak’s brutal legacy.
CAIRO—Nada Badrawy leaned on a wall covered with graffiti of slogans and scenes from the 2011 revolution as she looked on to the tens of thousands of people in Tahrir Square. They were all waiting for the official announcement of who would become Egypt’s next president—a moment that they never thought possible just 16 months ago. She listened to Farouk Sultan, chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court, deliver his speech through her red Samsung phone, its antennae stretched all the way out. Sultan's voice cracked through her speaker. "Khalas," she said. Sultan’s speech had dragged on for more than 45 minutes, and the people of Egypt had waited long enough.
"I really hope for Shafiq," Badrawy said. "I really hope." But finally, after an hour of waiting, Sultan announced the news everyone had been waiting for.
Mohamed Morsi would become the next president of Egypt.
Cheers erupted from the crowd as the results were read. Those who were sitting in local cafés watching Sultan’s speech ran to join the celebration. Men and women embraced each other, yelling “Allahu akbar.” Grown men wept, and some, even in the middle of the chaos, kneeled on the ground and prayed.
With that, Badrawy let out an angry sigh, and slammed her phone shut. Morsi won the presidency, but she said if there is one thing that she has learned over the past year and a half, it is that nothing in Egyptian politics is ever certain.
Morsi, who is the first Islamist elected as head of state, won with 13,230,131 votes against Shafiq’s 12,347,380. Polls officially closed the night of June 17 and initial results pointed to Morsi as the clear leader.
The Muslim Brotherhood announced him as the winner with 13.2 million votes and Shafiq with 12.3 million votes. But the Shafiq campaign, though they did not provide any clear evidence at first, also claimed victory, leaving the country at a standstill.
Dina Zakaria, a Morsi-campaign media representative and member of the foreign-relations committee, said the campaign asked Shafiq officials to release their documents but never heard back from them.
“They told us, ‘No, your results are wrong,’ and then we inquired about their documents. They hesitated, and then they refused,” she said. Zakaria also said that the Morsi campaign was alerted to the commission’s decision to take more time to review the results last week, but said she did not know of the process used to make the final decision.
“We were watching the television like everyone else,” she said.
The electoral commission had originally planned on releasing the final vote tallies earlier this week, but as each day passed, the announcement was further delayed. Officials from the group said they needed more time to review the reasons behind the discrepancy. Some feared the delay meant that the military was going to announce Shafiq as the winner, even though he had not won a majority of the votes.
Accounts surfaced earlier in the week that deals were being brokered between the Security of Armed Forces (SCAF) and Morsi. But campaign officials said Sunday that that was not true. Saad El-Husseini, a member of the executive bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said that there were no compromises made between the Muslim Brotherhood and SCAF in regard to parliament.
“We will continue to push,” he said.
The president-elect is just one of few certainties in the country’s political equation. The country still needs to draft a constitution and elect a new parliament (the previously elected body was dissolved by the military June 14). The military junta has said previously that it would hand over power June 30, but that promise seems less and less likely as they regained several powers last week—including the right to arrest civilians. Morsi supporters have vowed to stay in Tahrir Square until he is granted full power. The Egyptian Health Ministry said Monday that one person was killed and 62 people were injured in Sunday’s demonstrations.
But Morsi has already begun to make his mark. According to several sources, he moved into his new office Monday and held his first meetings regarding the formation of his team of advisers.
The White House issued a statement congratulating Morsi on his win, but encouraged the new president to grant Egyptians rights no matter their religious affiliation.
“We believe in the importance of the new Egyptian government upholding universal values, and respecting the rights of all Egyptian citizens—including women and religious minorities such as Coptic Christians,” the statement read. “Millions of Egyptians voted in the election, and President-elect Morsi and the new Egyptian government have both the legitimacy and responsibility of representing a diverse and courageous citizenry.”
Morsi addressed the nation just hours after the official announcement, and affirmed his plan to act as a figurehead for the entire country, not just those loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“I will be a president for all Egyptians: Muslims, Christians, the elderly, children, women, men, farmers, teachers, workers, those who work in the private and public sectors, and the merchants,” Morsi said in his address.
But still, there are many Egyptians like Badrawy, a Muslim, who fear that Egypt will become an Islamic-fascist state with Morsi as president. Others, including many revolutionaries and activists, fear that their efforts did not leave the country with an adequate leader.
“After one month, people will realize that we are not monsters,” Sameh El-Essawy, media coordinator for the Morsi campaign, said. “We are just normal Egyptians.”