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Whilst the Egyptian people continue artistically expressing themselves, the Egyptian government is busy painting over the walls of history in and around Tahrir square that document the uprising.

Photo credits to Angry Egyptian

It’ been 16 months since the start of the Egyptian uprising on January 25 2011 followed by the exhilaration of the removal of President Hosni Mubarak by the thousands who gathered every day in Tahrir Square. Since then hundreds have been killed, beaten, sexually abused, detained and tortured under the interim military government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF">.

In the move towards democracy, parliamentary elections were held between November 2011 and January 2012 and for the first time in the country’s history, presidential elections took place on May 23rd. For many of those who took part in the January 25th uprising, the announcement that Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood or former prime minister under Mubarak, Ahmed Shafik will be the next president has been shocking. Blogger Gigi Ibrahim "The Angry Egyptian" expressed this in her Twitter timeline:

“We are fucked” #EgyElections

“We have to be very careful predicting the future, Shafiq & Morsi will be a disaster, anything else we can handle unless it’s Mousa & Shafiq”

But it is doubtful, at least at this moment, whether there will be ‘anything else’ in an election she described as ‘the Egyptian Circus’ and “The Festival of Fools”. But rather than walk in despair many Egyptians have taken to humour through cartoons and song to express their frustration.

“During the Egyptian Circus represented as “The First Democratic Presidential Election in the Arab Word,” which is untrue by the way, the first was in Mauritania in 2008, you will encounter the funniest and most creative ways people have used to expose the flool (figures from the Mubarak regime) candidates in attempt to prevent them from being “elected.” As many people have zero hope in this fake-democracy packaged in a ballot box, Egyptian people have always resorted to humor to make a point in a time of desperate need for counter-media.”

"Morsy as a spare tyre" by Angry Egyptian. Whilst the Egyptian people continue artistically expressing themselves, the Egyptian government is busy painting over the walls of history in and around Tahrir square that document the uprising. Writing on Al Jazeera’s website, Murtaza Hussain remembers some of the artists arrested and shot on the “Street of Life” - Mohammed Mahmoud Street, the scene of much of the violence against the people.

Photo credits Al Jazeera“Since the first days of the revolution Egyptians have found their democratic voice through impromptu street art in Cairo and beyond. Denunciations of the corrupt military dictatorship as well as illustrations of their own aspirations for freedom and self-determination have taken graphic form on city walls from Cairo to Alexandria to Suez. This week's effort by the SCAF to destroy the most prominent and visceral of these displays was not the first attempt to wipe out revolutionary street art. In other urban centres across Egypt, graffiti murals have been defaced and destroyed and their creators imprisoned.”

Egyptian journalist, Sara Khorshid, asks how democratic is it to vote in an election with no constitution in place so no one knows the constitutional powers or role of the president. She comments on the perpetual “ vicious circle of sophistry and uncertainty” created by a half finished hazy constitution and the possibility that the military rulers will not cede completely to a civilian government.

“Even after a permanent constitution gets eventually drafted and the president's authorities get revealed, a civilian ruler is not expected to fully exercise his legitimate powers – not as long as SCAF is still in session and the Armed Forces are not accountable to the people, not subdued to elected civilian officials and institutions. A Wall Street Journal report published on May 18 predicts what SCAF has already hinted to several times over the past year: that it will not relinquish its upper hand over foreign policy, which includes Egyptian relations with the United States, the provider of an annual military assistance to Egypt. The Army is also expected to seek to protect its budget from public scrutiny and parliamentary accountability. Because democracy essentially entails the subservience of the military to civilian authority, Egypt is not a democracy yet.”

There have been accusations from within Egypt of election fraud. In an interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous, of ‘Egypt Reports ’, the head of the observer team, President Carter spoke of his exclusion from many of the processes but stated overall he was happy with the election process. However this is not the view of everyone. Wael Eskandar of ‘Notes From the Underground’ points to various reports on voter fraud such as dead people being amongst the voters, army and police conscripts on voter lists, and in one case the same name appeared 50 times on a voting register. These comments were echoed by a number of tweeters on their own personal observations at voter stations. In another post, Eskandar insists the elections were “Free and Unfair” criticising what he sees as a false democracy and voters making choices on based on fear and crazy logic. He explains

“The odds were stacked against democracy from the start. Democracy has been mistaken for majority rule. It is apparently necessary to point out that they are different. Rule of the majority gives the majority the license to commit immoral acts that disrespect human rights and minority rights, but democracy does not. Real democracy should not allow the election of people who will transform rule into a dictatorship.

So back to elections. Everyone is picking someone for different reasons. This is what happens when people are deprived of choice all their lives. I’m not just talking about elections. I mean the entire culture of Egypt does not allow for more than one correct answer. School exams do not accept differing views over what is the correct answer just like Mubarak was always the right answer.”

He quotes one Coptic woman as an example of votes based on fear. She admitted to voting for Shafiq even though he was a poor speaker, held Mubarak as his role model, wouldn't support the revolutionaries but was honest. In a post, “Dont Blame the Copts” Blogger, Mahmoud Salem "Rantings of a SandMonkey" also refers to the Coptic fear of the Muslim Brotherhood which has led a large majority - he suggests as high as 85% - voting for Shafiq. Salem’s concern is centered on a “dangerous new rhetoric .. rising within the ranks of the revolutionaries” which accuses the Christian Coptic community of being traitors to the revolution.

“The blame game started immediately, and despite revolutionary infighting between the supporters of various revolutionary candidates that never quite made it, they all seem to agree on one point: The Copts (also insert: The Church) have screwed the revolution over with their voting choice. It goes without saying that this rhetoric is very immature and dangerous for the Coptic population, and will lead to further polarization amidst the revolutionary ranks, and that they are better suited to finding out why that happened and try to court that vote, instead of entrenching that belief further. In reality, their choice of vote, while unfortunate, is very logical and should not be blamed for it, and to paint them as traitors after being the population that suffered the most after this revolution is nothing short of latent sectarianism and ignoring the facts.”

Salem provides a detailed account of the Coptic contribution to the revolution and goes a long way in explaining their positioning at this point in time. For him blaming the Coptics for Shafiq is like blaming SCAF for hijacking the revolution:

“[B]oth are attempts to deflect personal responsibility and deny the simple truth that had the revolutionaries united behind one leader or presidential candidate, they would’ve easily won this election and been in the run-off already, with the Coptic vote firmly behind them. But no, it’s not our fault that we chose shitty candidates and ignored their plight for over a year, it’s their fault for picking the least of all evils to them.”

It seems the ‘revolutionaries’ are having a hard time right now. KarmaMole is in “AWE” over the revolutionaries who are shocked by Shafik’s 25% vote pointing out that the regime regularly gave Mubarak 99% so why the surprise? After all Shafik has the support of SCAF?

“We all know the cases filed against his campaign alleging CSF and Police were given multiple ID's to vote for him, we also know that he violated 'electoral silence' BLATANTLY by publishing ads after the silence was imposed.......We also know that his campaign spent FAR more than the 10 million LE he was allowed to spend. We also have Jimmy Carter, who said yesterday in his lecture at the Opera that:

1. They faced more restrictions on their monitoring than they had in over 90 other elections over the last 20 years all around the world, and...

2. That the SPEC in Egypt has more power than similar committees have ANYWHERE in the WORLD, and ...”

Finally, Issandr el Amrani who edits The Arabist asks why Egyptians should accept the elections. Dismissing the PEC [Presidential Elections Commission"> as untrustworthy and lacking creditability, he points to the real issue which leaves the ‘revolutionaries’ somewhat out in the cold - but remember they have been there before!

“[T]o what extent will the political leaders that supposedly represent the protestors will push the delegitimization of the elections, and how the Muslim Brotherhood (which has alleged fraud but not filed any complaints, perhaps afraid to lose its spot on the runoff) will position itself between the protest movement and the state.

The revolutionaries were right that no constitution should be written, and no election held, under the rule of generals who served Hosni Mubarak. They didn't care about the current interim constitution because it itself has little legitimacy, and the transition has been so mangled as to barely make sense anymore. They never received much backing from political leaders, however (including Aboul Fotouh and Sabbahi until now, since they have rejected the PEC's ruling), unless you count Mohamed ElBaradei's boycott of the election and rejection of the transition process (but he too only half-heartedly called on the generals to step down).”

Meanwhile, The Alliance of Egypt’s Revolutionaries is calling for a demonstrations to:

“[D]eclare the political isolation of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq and demanding the toppling of what it called the "new Mubarak regime”.

Too many people have been killed, detained traumatized, beaten - too much struggle has taken place in the last 16 months for the revolution not to continue. The aim was to transform Egypt - for this, there is still a very long way to go.


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* Sokari Ekine blogs at Blacklooks.
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