Thursday, December 15, 2011

Parliamentary Surprises

People have been voting in Giza
the past two days in the parliamentary elections. My neighbours went to a school in Abu Sir to vote as they did in the referendum, but in much larger numbers. My grooms asked for time off to vote and I told them that they absolutely had time off to do so. Later in the afternoon, I sat and we chatted about the voting process. I've read all sorts of comments on the voting results, which seem very much to favour the Islamic parties. So many people find this worrying as they are concerned that the Islamic parties might not be friendly to tourism, might insist on women wearing hijab, might not be friendly to other nationalities and so on. Personally, I feel that this is a momentous new experience for Egyptians and that we really have almost no idea what the results mean to most people. I suspect that we are going to have to just wait and see.

My grooms and gardeners were happy to talk about who they'd voted for and why. When they said that many of them had voted for Salafi's I don't mind saying that I was somewhat surprised. These guys don't seem like Salafi people, really. But when I asked them why the Salafi's or the Brotherhood, their answer surprised me. They pointed out that both parties, having been outlawed during Mubarak's years, had been unable to rack up a history of illegal political activities as had the old NDP. They were, in essence, political novices and as such deserved a chance to try to make things better. I asked about the worries that people have about the Islamic parties affecting our country's main industry, tourism, something that is the basis for our work as well. "Well, if they don't do a good job, then we can vote to get rid of them" was the response. So their votes for the Islamic parties were more a way of avoiding voting for any felool (remnants of the old regime) than they were a vote for the Islamic principles of the parties.

Things in Egypt are seriously not what they seem on the surface.

copyright 2011 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani