The Muslim Brotherhood’s big win in Egypt may in fact cause civil unrest or even civil war. Surprisingly, with the future of the country balanced between two parties with radically opposing views, many voters protested the choices that were available by refusing to vote at all. The two-day election found many polling stations empty as temperatures rose to 40C in Cairo.
The Muslim Brotherhood was claiming victory, saying that their candidate, 60-year-old engineer Mohamed Morsi, had received 51.8% of the vote, while Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak‘s final prime minister and supported by the military, said he had received 52% of the vote.
Estimates of the first day of voting were as low as 15%, and the daily newspaper Al-Shorouk declared “Boycott” as the only victor in the elections. Many of Egypt’s youth protested the available choices by writing in names of comic book heroes, belly dancers or protesters killed in last year’s uprising.
One young musician claimed that the protest would cripple any new government: “Given a choice between eating sh** or eating sh**, most Egyptians have decided they’re not hungry,” he said.
Warnings about the dangers of electing the Muslim Brotherhood abounded; one national news outlet stated that Egyptians should keep out the Brotherhood in order to prevent Egypt from becoming “the next Afghanistan”, and text messages circulated among Egyptians vacationing on the Mediterranean coast saying that if they didn’t vote for Shafiq they might not be able to vacation again.
Friends and family have been divided in a rancorous atmosphere. A Twitter hashtag #CandidateDomesticFights was becoming popular, and a man attempted to divorce his wife in the polling station after she revealed she would be voting for Morsi.
The influential Egyptian blogger Mahmoud Salem (aka Sandmonkey), who hates both leading candidates, wrote:
I have resolved, many months ago, that this revolution is continuing with or without me, and that the clash with the state and the MB is inevitable and coming, and that it won’t stop anytime soon, mainly because the problems that sparked it are real, and no one has attempted to fix them, and they are getting worse by the minute.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been celebrating claims of a Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt’s presidential election, hoping that Egypt will abandon any rapprochement with Israel and will ally with them in attacks on Israel.