Wednesday 27 June, 2012
Just arrived Cairo. And yes, we know for sure that Morsi has been declared the victor with a margin of 51.7% – compared to Shafiq’s 48.3%.
Such a close race. And such division in and amongst Egyptians and yet a sense of hope and excitement that has not been felt since perhaps the Egyptian deposition of the colonial Brits in 1952.
I actually felt that I was already in Egypt when I boarded the Lufthansa flight in Munich that brought us to Cairo. Before the plane took off I could hear people on my left and right and behind me discussing the political situation in Egypt with great passion and knowledge. Nearly everyone was engaged in conversation with their fellow Egyptians, all strangers to each other until this moment. The air was electric.
A young Egyptian logistics worker from Norway, a middle aged Egyptian business woman living in Germany, a retired elderly Egyptian man living in Nice, France, a religious man and his three children returning from vacation and another religious (yet secular politically) couple beside me. Everyone was discussing the current situation. Did they vote? Who did the vote for? Why didn’t they vote. Every paradigm was represented. Another Egyptian woman living in the US walked down the aisle and asked if she could join our discussion.
Yes, indeed, things have changed in Egypt. Even the plane ride to Egypt was dynamic. People are excited. They are engaged. There is a sense that they have some control.
Morsi’s acceptance speech was a hot topic. Everyone agreed that he said fantastic things. He said he would choose a Vice President that will be either Coptic or a woman, that his cabinet will be represent all Egyptians, that he will promote a moderate Islam. Morsi spoke of the wealth of Egypt, the human, natural, touristic and political resources. He spoke about Egypt’s need to become independent and lessen its ties to the West, especially the US. We all agreed that this was good news, but a few could believe his words. How could he change over night? How could this man they saw as religiously fundamental really live up to such promises. Who is he really? Where does he really stand?
I suggested that we really don’t know yet. His words have changed from before the election (pandering towards the stricter religious segments of society) and now flipping a bit to the other side. Words are words, but deeds speak much louder. We will wait and see and all of Egypt will be ready to tell Morsi what they think and need and expect. And they will all want something different.
And thats what we call democracy! Viva la revolution! As an American, I am amazed and full of respect for the Egyptian people who are making this democratic change. It will take time for sure, but already there is huge change, people are engaged!