Saturday 21 October 2017

Egypt polarised by election result

Protesters shout slogans during a protest against candidate Ahmed Shafiq at Tahrir Square in Cairo. Photo: Reuters
Protesters shout slogans during a protest against candidate Ahmed Shafiq at Tahrir Square in Cairo. Photo: Reuters

Richard Spencer in Cairo

Egypt is facing a presidential run-off vote between the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood and a former leader of the regime, leaving the young liberal activists who overthrew President Hosni Mubarak asking: "What happened to the revolution?"

With provisional results in from most polling stations last night, Mohammed Morsi, the uninspiring and overweight engineering professor dubbed by many as "the Islamists' spare tyre" after being picked as a last-minute stand-in, had a clear lead.

He had been trailing in the opinion polls, but an even bigger surprise was the surge into second place of Ahmed Shafiq, who had his own derisive nickname -- "felloul", or "remnant", a reference to his role as Mr Mubarak's last prime minister.

The result is the most polarising possible for Egypt's post-revolutionary, fractured society, giving voters a clear choice between political Islam and fewer personal freedoms and a return to the perceived stability but frequent brutality of the old regime.

The activists who led the Tahrir Square revolution took their celebrated wit to their favoured social networks in outrage

"Why settle for a lesser evil? I'm cool. My business will thrive," said Hossam Bahgat, the head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and one of the country's best-known human rights activists.

He had supported Abdulmoneim Aboul Fotouh, a "liberal Islamist" once favoured to win, who now seems likely to end up in fourth place.

Amr Moussa, the former Arab League secretary-general long considered the front-runner, did worse, trailing in fifth.

Many liberals were resting their hopes on a strong showing by Hamdeen Sabahi, the left-wing nationalist who last night was still in with an outside chance of pipping Mr Shafiq for the second run-off place. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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