November 22, 2017

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  • Detained activists released

    The scorching heat didn't deter women from lining up to cast their vote at Almaza School.

    BY SAFAA ABDOUN

    Cairo: Reports of the arrest of activists and journalists marred the first day of Egypt’s contentious presidential election runoff pitting ex-regime icon Ahmed Shafik against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.

    According to Mahmoud Afify, official spokesman of the April 6 Youth Movement, 30 members of the group were arrested near polling stations in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Minya and Beheira but were released by the prosecutor several hours later.

    “They were standing in front of the polling stations carrying the pictures of the martyrs to remind people of those who gave up their lives for Egypt,” said Afify.

    April 6 has officially endorsed Morsi in the runoff, believing that Shafik is responsible for killing protesters during the 18-day uprising in January 2011.

    Furthermore, a member of Al Jazeera Mubasher’s crew, Abdel Rahman Abdel Ghaffar, was also arrested from in front of the Labor University in Nasr City.

    Abdel Ghaffar was interviewing the deputy Cairo governor when one of the university professors allegedly attacked him. The two were taken into police custody then to the prosecution office, according to a statement by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), before they were eventually released.

    Translator Marwa Nassar was also arrested from in front of a polling station in Sayeda Zeinab when one of Shafik’s supporters accused her of directing voters to vote for Morsi, according to AFTE. She was there translating for a Finnish journalist.

    Nassar was referred to the Sayeda Zeinab prosecution where she was still being interrogated at time of publishing.

    There was a generally low turn-out on the first day of runoffs which several activist groups have pledged to boycott.

    Yet representatives of the boycott campaign were nowhere to be seen near voting stations around Cairo, as they had publicly planned to do so over the past two weeks.

    One of the campaign organizers, Nazly Hussein, had previously told The Egypt Monocle that after making the rounds at the polls all day, the boycott campaign will march to Tahrir Square at 5 pm, which did not happen.

    None of the campaign members was available for comment.

    Voting stations were relatively empty around noon. “There were more people in the morning but now because of the heat there is no one,” a military officer at Al Orman School in Mohandiseen said on condition of anonymity.

    “We saw the same trend in the first round, people showed up in the morning and after sunset as the weather is better,” he said.

    However, in Heliopolis, which voted Shafik in round one, the scorching heat didn’t deter women from lining up to cast their vote at Almaza School.

    Carrying umbrellas and wearing hats the queue of women wound around the school wall.

    “Who cares about the heat when it comes to the welfare of my country?” said 58-year-old Ferial Atef. –The Egypt Monocle

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