Despair in Tahrir Square: "We don’t trust the military or the Muslim Brotherhood"

 
Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets Monday night following the announcement of the official results of the presidential election's first round. In the capital, but also in several other cities across the country, demonstrators vented their anger at having to choose between a member of the former regime and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
In Cairo, several thousand people gathered in Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the Egyptian revolution. Not far from there, the office of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq was set on fire by a mob. Shafiq, who briefly served as prime minister under Hosni Mubarak before he was deposed, came in second place during the first round of the election; he will face the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, in a run-off vote on June 16 and 17. Like Mubarak, Shafiq formerly served as an Air Force officer and has close ties to Egypt's powerful military. Shafiq’s campaign blamed his office's attack on supporters of leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who came in third.
 
Protests were also held in the cities of Alexandria, Suez and Port Said. Many young, secular Egyptians who led the Egyptian revolution are bitterly disappointed in the election’s results. While some of them say that they’ll regretfully vote for Morsi rather than vote for Shafiq, who represents the old regime, others say they won’t vote at all.
 
Cairo's Tahrir Square at 9:30 p.m. on Monday evening. 
 
Ahmed Shafiq's office, located near Tahrir Square, was attacked late Monday night. A garage adjoining the building was set on fire. Video published on YouTube by Omar Salem.
Contributors

“Protesters didn't go to Tahrir Square to support any candidate, but rather to denounce the results and ask for them to be re-examined”

Yehia el Gammal is a blogger who took part in the Egyptian revolution. He lives in Cairo.
 
As soon as I heard the official election results, I headed to Tahrir Square to protest. There were only a couple hundred people at first, but by evening it grew to thousands. It really reminded me of the early days of the revolution – there were lots of young people, and they all said that they were not there to support any candidate, but rather to denounce the results and ask for them to be re-examined. There are allegations – which still have to be confirmed – that thousands of soldiers voted, when the law forbids them to do so; this needs to be investigated. Unfortunately, as the electoral commission was handpicked by Egypt's military rulers, I have doubts as to whether this will happen. [The commission brushed aside allegations of fraud on Monday.]
 
“After Shafiq’s office was attacked, a group of thugs moved in to attack us in Tahrir Square, apparently in retribution”
 
During the evening, we heard the news that Shafiq’s office had been attacked. Shortly afterwards, a group of thugs moved in to attack us in Tahrir Square, apparently in retribution. The crowd panicked and many people started running; it almost turned into a stampede. I heard that some people had been injured, but the thugs left and we stayed on, and continued chanting late into the night.
 
Most people protesting were simply angry that Ahmed Shafiq was allowed to run at all – that he was somehow able to circumvent the law that bans people who served under Mubarak’s regime from holding public office. We don’t want to go back to the way things were before the revolution, which is where Shafiq would lead us.
 
“This is a real slap in the face after everything we’ve been through. But change is slow”
 
I think Shafiq attracted a part of the population because he promises stability and security. The past year has been difficult – there have been violent clashes every couple of months. So the desire for calm is understandable. But reverting to the old regime is not the way to reach lasting peace. The problem with this election was that there was no really strong secular, non-military candidate – the candidates who appealed to those of us took part in the revolution should have banded together, instead of splitting up the vote.
 
Protesters were chanting not only against Shafiq but also against his rival, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. We chanted, “We don’t trust the military or the Brotherhood.” We can’t imagine – we refuse to imagine – either of them ruling our country. It’s a real slap in the face after everything we’ve been through. But change is slow – and this is a reminder that the revolution is ongoing.
 
  
A protest also followed the announcement of the election's results in the city of Alexandria on Monday evening. 
 
Protesters tearing down a Morsi poster in Alexandria.
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