Egyptians living in Fayoum plan to boycott the upcoming May election. They see Abdel Fatah al-Sissi winning as a foregone conclusion. Fayoum lies along a muddy section on the Nile’s west bank. Sixty-four miles southwest of Cairo, the city has few paved roads for its 316,000 residents. It is a place where Egyptian farmers bring their vegetables into town and local fishermen sell their latest catch from the nearby Nile.
In 2011, euphoria swept Fayoum’s citizens. After 29 years of direct rule by President Hosni Mubarak, his government fell in a revolution. The temporary government promised Egyptians would vote the nation’s first open democratic election.
After the overthrow of Mubarak and the 2012 elections, Fayoum’s residents and local farmers debated politics without the fear of government harassment. People spoke about their desires for an Islamic government. They attended rallies and kindled the hope democracy could work in Egypt.
Reda Saad, a local shopkeeper, said he waited for hours to cast his vote for Mohammad Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He remembered the day of the 2012 election as being very hot. Despite the weather, he stood in line with hundreds of other Egyptians eager to cast his vote.
When Morsi won the election, the people of Fayoum celebrated. For a while, it seemed the trust Egyptians placed in democracy had allowed the people to elect the candidate of their choice. Fayoum with its conservative poor were the electorate that formed the basis for Morsi’s victory.
The people of Fayoum found their belief in democracy were dashed in 2013 when the Egyptian military ousted President Morsi. Millions of people like Saad who voted for Morsi have now become frustrated with the entire concept of democracy.
There is no use voting for someone lacking close ties and the support from the military. For Saad, the election of Sissi, a former military chief who overthrew President Morsi, is a foregone conclusion. Sissi has the backing of the army. With the backing of the army, Saad believes Sissi will win the election. Egypt will return to the same status quo it had with Mubarak. Saad lacks the same enthusiasm he had in 2012. He currently plans on sitting out the upcoming election.
Far too many people living in Fayoum share Saad’s sentiment. People such as Sayed Eid, a vender who sells fuul sandwiches that are made of crushed beans for 10 cents apiece, summed up the attitude of many residents in believing the upcoming of Sissi will be rigged in his favor. Like Saad, Eid does not plan on voting in the upcoming election.
The trust in democracy has faded. Too many Egyptian residents in Fayoum plan to boycott the upcoming election. Civil protests have recently left two killed. Further protests on the scale of those in Cairo will only bring severe repercussions by the government.
Apathy now dominates a large portion of Fayoum’s residents. They prefer going on with their lives convinced the election of Sissi is a foregone conclusion. Protests only bring about government retaliations. Egyptians living in Fayoum would rather boycott the upcoming election than participate in something they deem as a farce.
By Brian T. Yates