Presidential Elections

Sent On: 
Thu, 2014-05-29
Newsletter Number: 

AWR researcher Yosra El-Gendi made overviews of Egyptian media reporting on the presidential elections. Abdelfattah al- Sīsī has won the elections, as expected, with a landslide. Around 93% voted for him. The remaining ballots were either for Hamdin Sabahi or invalid. Al- Sīsī’s opponents claimed that the turn-out is lower than expected or hoped for. This claim is premature since the official figures have not yet been released. The turn-out is of major importance for al- Sīsī to give him the much needed credibility to govern.

Muslim Brothers claim a low turn-out and credit this to their call for a boycott of the elections. I do not believe this to be true. In the previous elections since January 2011 the turn-out was between 35 and 54 per cent; the highest percentage was during the parliamentary elections of December 2011/January 2012, and since then it has only declined in later elections. I have met with many Egyptians who are tired of having to go to the elections so often. Others would not go since they knew that al- Sīsī would anyhow win. Again, others stated that they were in favor of al- Sīsī but did not vote because they would have to vote in their own electoral district while their work was in another part of town. If it would have been possible to vote in another district they would have done so.

Particularly worrisome are reports that Muslim Brotherhood members have been paying residents of  Awlād Sakr in Sharqia 200 EgP if they would not vote. The payment was made after residents handed in their ID card, which prevented them from voting.

In other rural areas Copts were prevented from voting. In rural areas everyone knows one another and since many Coptic leaders have showed sympathy for al- Sīsī, this can be interpreted as an effort to reduce the vote for al-Sīsī. I have heard the same argument, independent from media reporting, from Christians I know in Upper Egypt. This certainly did not happen in all villages, but apparently in some areas it did.

Muhammad Fathī, member of the executive bureau of al- Sīsī’s campaign, was murdered in front of his house. Immediately, the Muslim Brotherhood was accused of this crime. Politically motivated killings have already cost the lives of over 500 policemen, an unknown number of military and a number of judges since July 3, 2013. (For more news see media overviews of May 27 and May 28).

Our previous report presenting Prof. Hassan Wagieh’s views about violence at the Azhar resulted in discussions with Azhar staff with opposing views. This has now been included in the text. The main argument is about whether it was justified for Egyptian security to enter the campus in December 2013 to end demonstrations (this is Prof. Wagieh’s view) or did the security extending their presence on campus add to more violence? This is the position of those who disagreed with Prof. Wagieh. Are Islamist students responsible for much of the violence (Prof. Wagieh) or did Egyptian security send in thugs that created violence in order to discredit the demonstrating students (the position of Wagieh’s opponents). All these arguments have been added to the text which you can find here.

We are pleased that Daily News Egypt liked Weston’s article about the Monastery of St. Dimyana (Demiana) so much that they asked us for republishing in their newspaper. Others, however, commented on my comments on the banner of Metropolitan Bishoy and Field Marshall al-Sīsī just outside the monastery, which I presented as an endorsement of the metropolitan for al-Sīsī. Our researcher Jayson Casper alerted me that the church has been at pains to show that it does not encourage a vote for neither candidates, only to encourage the process of voting. This is certainly the message that I have picked up from the Wednesday evening meeting with Pope Tawadros on May 21 but the banner we saw in Dimyana gave a different indication. For this reason I have asked Jayson Casper to write about this. Read Jayson’s report here. Emigration of Christians from Egypt remain an issue of concern. HRH Prince Charles voiced his concerns in Asharq al-Awsat, May 26, 2024. Read the article here.

Last but not least is the interesting report Farah de Haan made of our meeting with Flemming Weiss Andersen about his experience in investigative journalism. Farah was an intern with us, but per June 1 has been appointed as intern coordinator in succession to Jenna Ferrecchia who has left after having done excellent work with us in the past three years.


Cornelis Hulsman

Editor-in-chief,  Arab-West Report