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A voter checks her name at a polling station in Cairo (photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

Egyptians Boycott Elections or Choose Between Islamist or 'Mubarak Lite'

Common Dreams staff

Egypt's electoral crisis continues in Egypt today as voters head to polls in the latest round of presidential elections with some voters boycotting the process refusing to take part in what they see as an undemocratic election that leaves them with no real change.

The Independent reports that some Egyptians who support a boycott of the election "argue that the run-off represents a Hobson's choice between the Islamism of Mr Morsi and a retrenchment of the old regime" by candidate Shafik.

"We didn't have a revolution to topple a regime that made us live in poverty and didn't treat us like human beings so we can bring it back," school teacher Mohammed Mustafa told the Associated Press as he waited to vote in Cairo.

"We lost this country for 30 years, and we are not ready to lose it again," he added. "I have no doubt there will be fraud. If there is, I will return to the street to win back my dignity because I won't live as a slave anymore."

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Associated Press: Egypt votes to choose successor to Hosni Mubarak

CAIRO — Faced with a choice between Hosni Mubarak's ex-prime minister and an Islamist candidate, Egyptians entered their latest round of elections in an atmosphere of suspicion, resignation and worry, voting in a presidential runoff that will mean the difference between installing a remnant of the old regime and bringing Islam into government.

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Juan Cole writes today on Informed Comment:
Egypt: An Election within a Coup within a Coup

Ahmad Shafiq is a man of the Hosni Mubarak regime. He is pro-American, committed to good relations with Israel, and warns that the Muslim fundamentalists want to drag Egypt back into the Middle Ages. Although he promises ‘freedom of expression and of the internet’ if elected, he also pledges to curb public protests and to impose law and order. He is close to the real power behind the throne, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. He is, in short, a ‘Mubarak lite.’

In contrast, Muhammad Mursi, 60, an engineering Ph.D. trained at the University of Southern California who claims to have worked on a NASA project as an assistant professor, is committed to the imposition of a literalist interpretation of Islamic canon law on Egypt. He was a member of parliament 2000-2005, and was spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood bloc. His supporters say his loss of the seat in a run-off in 2005 was engineered by the Mubarak government. He was jailed more than once under Mubarak, and one of his sons was arrested last February and badly beaten by the military, leaving him with broken bones. His supporters maintain that he would therefore never arbitrarily jail anyone else. While he says he respects popular sovereignty and admits that there is no such thing as ‘Islamic democracy,’ only ‘democracy’– his vision of making a rigid interpretation of medieval Islamic law the law of the land in Egypt disturbs liberals and leftists. He says he is committed to the peace treaty with Israel, as long as the Israelis observe it. But he was a member in Sharqiya Province of the ‘Committee for Resistance to Zionism,’ has called the Israeli leadership ‘vampires,’ and his party supports the fundamentalist Hamas party that rules the Gaza Strip. Mursi would likely have cool relations with the US and Israel.

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Khalid Abdalla: Revolution is the only way to save Egypt

This time as millions go to vote, millions of others will not vote – boycotting or spoiling their ballots. They will do so, not because they don't believe in democracy, but because they refuse to choose a lesser evil, and in turn be complicit in a political process that has been used to prevent change and not to bring it.

Far from disenfranchising themselves, they will be laying their bet on the only movement that has forced the army to bend and cornered the Muslim Brotherhood into decisions that have destroyed their popularity – the revolutionary movement.

Whatever sweet perfumed words Shafiq or Morsi use to cajole voters into missteps of conscience, for the vast majority that did not vote for them in the first round of elections, there is no hiding the rankness of either's alliances or political ideologies. Egypt's revolution can only believe there is no fork in the road, and that where it walks the future follows.

No one can pretend that the result of the presidential elections will not hurt. But listen carefully to the cries of doom that will be heartfelt and you will hear the strongest resolve to refuse the status quo. It will hit the streets soon enough and more likely than not more people will be die. While killing its citizens, the regime will claim that it is protecting democracy and upholding the rule of law.

Only when you hear that the Egyptian people have stopped believing that what they do has the power to change their country will you know the revolution has been lost and the deep state has won. Until then, anything can happen.

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