Tensions have been steadily mounting in Egypt, providing an atmosphere akin to a tinderbox of opinions and accusations, but just who is holding the match, and what might spark it, is impossible to pinpoint with so many hot button issues, and polarising figures, consuming the minds of the Egyptian public.
It could most easily be attributed to the withheld elections results. Promises of definite verdicts are dangled tantalisingly in front of the public then whipped away for ‘further examination.’ A dangerous move, when compared to a similar environment of rumour and election result delays that fuelled the Kenyan election disaster of 2007, which left more than 1,000 Kenyans dead after riots erupted.
The tensions could similarly be attributed to frustration at the opaque nature and mishandling of the elections. Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi showed his audacity by giving a 4am press conference some days ago where he declared himself winner. The Shafiq campaign responded days later with a denial of Morsi’s numbers and a claim that Shafiq had pulled ahead with 51 percent.
“I am so confident that Shafiq is ahead,” says Reem Nour, 37, a Shafiq supporter and managing director at a prominent advertising firm. “Morsi got up at 4am to declare his victory because he’s scared, so he’s drumming up support. Shafiq is so calm and not rushed because he knows whatever Morsi does, people will catch him and Shafiq will still win.”
But perhaps the tensions lay at the feet of state media, which portrays elections –an entirely normal and never-clean affair- so sensationally that its soap-opera like qualities is retold in such a polarizing manner that the Egyptian public is engrossed in innuendos and misnomers.
There is no shortage of evidence regarding the sensationalism of Egyptian state television. The Mubarak debacle killed the ex-President off and brought him back so many times that toward the end, people did not care one way or another whether the man lived or died. The term ‘clinically dead’ was tossed around casually without anyone understanding what it truly meant, leading people to think his condition was more serious.
Tahrir Square, is also an epicentre of all tension in Egypt, with thousands upon thousands of Morsi supporters entrenched in the square, waiting for a decision that would either turn the square into the world’s victory party or quite possibly a bloodbath. Morsi’s supporters are cynical and apprehensive, believing the military council wants nothing more than to imprison all of Egypt’s Islamists in one fell Nasseresque stroke.
“The Military Council wants to retain a presence in the governing authority. They don’t want to give up power. They don’t want to go back to their bases and to just go and protect the borders. They don’t want to serve the nation, to serve Egypt,” says Mohamed Fouda, a Morsi supporter.
To its credit, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces has promised it will hand over power on the June 30- albeit a tenuous, shifting promise that has in no way bolstered by the constitutional amendment it recently issued that stripped the president-elect of power and left it in the hands SCAF.
“It’s nothing new for the authorities or military to lie. They have raised the Egyptian people on lies. They have taught us lies, and turned everything in Egypt into a lie,” says Ali Madany, another Morsi supporter.