Skip to main content

Rant: On voting in Egypt

Voting in the Egyptian Parliamentary elections has become a very complicated issue.

Beginning with about 50 parties, with daily additions and subtractions from the rolls, continuing with the three-month process of electing those parties to office across provinces, combined with continuing violence in Egyptian cities, at a lull now, result in an unstable mixture of emotion, politics. international concern and personal stories.

A clash of voices and jokes about teargas and mustard gas being used to subdue protesters, calls to boycott the elections, Egyptians abroad having to vote until Saturday getting notice of it today, Islamist losing in popularity, the appointment of a new Prime Minister by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (or SCAF, for those tired of writing about them), the formation of a National Salvation Government.

We remember January as we take to the streets in Berlin, in more than one way. It's cold and our toes are freezing off as we stand in front of the Egyptian Embassy and run into familiar faces that represent the microcosm of the Egyptian Society Abroad, and some unexpected arrivals. As I arrive, a fight has broken out between two people, the causes of which, even though unclear, resulted in spitting on faces, an act that is very derogatory to say the least. Somehow an apology is promised and not delivered, which results in a near report to the police.

Apologies delivered the situation seems appeased. We find something out that evening: The doors of the Egyptian Embassy are open to those who ring.

A day later, OMRAS gets a reply from the Ambassador to a letter we sent to him about the rights of Egyptians abroad in these elections. In fact, after it came to light that a sizable number of the expat community wanted to vote in Berlin, the embassy opened its doors 24 hours to allow the largest possible amount to vote. Some confusion ensued over registration, why you had to state your address (again) and how to vote in a foreign constituency if you were not there at the time of the vote. By mail, it turns out.

After a demo on Saturday, in the cold in front of the Foreign Office, with about fifty other Egyptians, we find that the demographics of Tahrir can be recreated in Berlin. The liberals, those representing political Islam, the middle, the media-savvy youth were all present. From chants to testimonial videos, songs of bilady, jokes, some photographs. The Egyptian flag omnipresent on about 50 square metres of Berlin territory. The pain was palpable as the people screamed their hearts out. So was the unity for a cause that finally came to light that day.

As the wall of the German Foreign office is not supposed to be the recipient of those outcries, we recorded some video statements to be able to send them out and post them online. I'll post more about those as they come.
Here is the Arabic version of the video:
Meanwhile, the electionnaire is being used and used, hopefully helping some people with their indecision. As I write this, close to 90 000 persons have used it, proving that, if anything, it is a tool that has found an audience that appreciates it. Some minor improvements have gone online, hopefully aiding and simplifying the process.

As to the elections themselves, here is a link why Egyptians, wherever they are, should not boycott those elections. And here is one why you should.

They're happening tomorrow and from my point of view, there is no reason not to vote. I'm not going to go into the details of the should & should nots of this election as I cannot participate in it and thus am keeping my opinions to myself, unless asked directly.

Tomorrow will, once again, be a new day in Egypt.


Popular posts from this blog

IGAF: Lying on Camera // Astounding Armaments

Nizar Qabbani wrote his epic poem "When Will They Announce the Death of Arabs" in 1994.

He was living in London at the time, far from his native Syria, watching the world he had grown up in and represented as a diplomat from afar. America had launched operation Desert Storm- a storm that lasts to this day- two years prior, and marked 1993 with the launch of 23 cruise missiles on Iraq. Qabbani will die of a heart attack in 1998.

In 18 stanzas, he explores the wishes and dreams he once carried, describes, however tribes and nations at war, that believe that secret services (like a cold, or a headache) are part of some heavenly order. He bemoans that the idea of the "Arab Nation" (possibly derived from the Pan-Arabist ideology that was crystallised during the Nasser years) has never come into being. He has been trying to draw a picture all his life, but his crayons have been taken away. He has watched wars- on TV, he has tried to imagine the idea of a peaceful Arab unio…

In Taheyya we Trust - How an Egyptian bellydancer found her posthumous stage in Berlin

“You should have winked at her,” Aida said dismissively, as if such a possibility had been imaginable for someone as timid as I was. Tahia Carioca was the most stunning and long-lived of the Arab world’s Eastern dancers (belly-dancers, as they are called today).
Edward Said, Farewell to Taheyya

My story with Taheyya begins in the summer of 2016, at Bulbuls Caféin Görlitzer Str. in Berlin. It ends two blocks down on Wiener Str 17. 

Bulbuls is a café and art space around my corner that I have grown to like to sit in and drink smoothies (1). He had commissiond us- a crew of Syrian and Egyptian artists, as well as myself, to paint the walls inside the café. El Tenneen (the Dragon) is the one who ended up drawing Sheikh Imam, with the help of Salam Alhassan (known as Salahef/ Turtles) and Sulafa Hijazis (whom we call El Hayya/The Snake’s) beamers’ illumination. The Sheikh sits happily in the place to this day and Crew El-Zoo was born.

Tenneen had the advantage of knowing immediately what he wa…

Two minutes: Addiction is Life is Yellow.

Addiction is a much-maligned, muddy word. Until (ca.) the 18th century, it connoted tendency and drive, rather than (self-) affliction. Opium changed that- reportedly. 
Lives described as addiction: to the approval and company of peers, to power and its accumulation, to enjoyment and personal satisfaction (to some people, this may be suffering) and to basics such as air, food, water… and possibly even living. When framed this way, and defined in reference to this word, life suddenly becomes a selfish pursuit in which the living will do anything to get their fix, devoted addicts all. 
On that note: Marylin Manson - I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me. 
Also: Addiction is apparently yellow.