In Egypt Vote, Families Debate on Generation Lines
Arwa el-Hussein, a 20-year-old pharmacy student, has been quarreling with her father for weeks, trying to get him not to back Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister for president.
“This is a betrayal of the revolution,” she says of support for Ahmed Shafiq, a veteran of the regime that last year’s uprising sought to topple. “I get depressed when I think about it.”
Egypt’s landmark election for a new leader, in which voting took place for a second day Thursday, has brought out a generation gap in many families around the country, with elders looking to old, known faces and their children yearning for something new.
The result is a lot of squabbles and shifting alliances around dining room tables and in front of living room TVs showing endless candidate interviews. El-Hussein said she managed to sway her mother to “vote for the revolution,” but her father successfully won one of her brothers over to the Shafiq side.
Her mother, Omayma, is now hard-core against any Mubarak regime candidate, branded by many as “feloul,” or “remnants.”
“We will have a second revolution if the feloul win,” mom declared.
For the young, a new face is a way to pay a debt to the revolution and bring a change in the entrenched ways of Mubarak’s autocracy. Without last year’s uprising, they argue, Mubarak would never have ceded the power he had held for 29 years and the doors never would have opened for the first real competitive presidential election in Egyptian history.
Many of their parents, however, crave stability after 15 months of painful transition since Mubarak’s fall, with street violence, collapsed security, a battered economy, surging food prices and rising crime rates.
The thrill of the unknown adds an edge to the debates: This race is wide open.