Their country, not ours’: Egypt’s young turn their backs on El-Sisi


Main roads in an upmarket district of New Cairo were clogged with traffic as Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s supporters took to the streets to celebrate the incumbent’s landslide win in Egypt’s presidential elections.

The results were hardly surprising since El-Sisi faced no real opposition from a little-known politician, Musa Mustafa Musa — himself an ardent El-Sisi supporter.

But the president’s enthusiasts still saw reasons to celebrate after the former defense minister won a second term with 97 percent of the valid votes on Monday.

“We were totally confident our president would secure a comfortable win, but this does not mean there are not enough reasons to celebrate such a great victory,” said Michael Hanna, a 34-year-old supporter of El-Sisi, as he joined the celebrations on Road 90, a major thoroughfare in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement district.

“We have now ensured our stability for four more years and are giving El-Sisi a mandate to continue his plans,” he said, referring to the president’s mega-projects that include the building of a new administrative capital east of Cairo.

The 40 percent poll turnout, a large number of spoiled ballots, and a crackdown by authorities on possible rivals and the media failed to dampen enthusiasm among his ardent supporters.

Paralyzing traffic in many parts of Egypt, El-Sisi followers honked vehicle horns, lit fireworks, danced, waved the country’s flags and sang patriotic songs. Tanoura dancers in some parts performed the famous Egyptian folklore dance.

Makeshift stages were set up in main squares to accommodate as many supporters as possible. Television satellite channels dedicated their night talk shows to images of ecstatic supporters.

“Those who said no and those who said yes, those who went to the polls and those who didn’t, all people deserve a good service.
This is a day of victory, happiness and security; a day that we should all celebrate,” said Amr Adib, a prominent talk show host.

But many other young people were subdued or indifferent, with the inevitable result rubbing salt into their wounds seven years after they poured into Tahrir square en masse to demand change.

Their protests at the time culminated in the downfall of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, but hopes for a better future have been dampened by what they see as growing authoritarian rule under El-Sisi.

“Do you believe these celebrations were real? They were all staged to show that the president is very popular,” Karim Nagy, a 29-year-old engineer, told Arab News.

“Even if they are real, this makes no difference. This country is now theirs, not ours.”

Many disgruntled youths preferred to mourn the death of Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, a prominent writer who died on Monday at the age of 55.

“Have you seen the huge grief on social media after Tawfik passed away? For us, this was more important than celebrating El-Sisi’s victory after a predetermined election,” Nagy sa

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