Egyptians began voting on Saturday in a run-off presidential election that offers them a stark choice between a conservative Islamist and a former top military officer who was the last prime minister of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
It is a novelty for ordinary Egyptians, who are choosing their leader for the first time in a history that stretches back to the pharaohs. Polling stations opened to 50 million eligible voters for the first of two days of voting at 8 am (0600 GMT).
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Speaking to Ynet ahead of the second and decisive round of Egypt's presidential election, Egyptians say they believe that the country's peace treaty with Israel will be maintained regardless of the winner.
The tense battle pits Islamist candidate Mohammad Morsi against secular candidate Ahmad Shafiq, associated with Egypt's previous regime. With many Egyptians fearing an Islamist takeover, while others concerned about a return to the old regime.
Heavily secured polling station (Photo: Reuters)
Muhammad, a 20-year-old student from Cairo, told Ynet that he intends to vote for Morsi, as he did in the first round, believing the Islamist candidate will mark Egypt's salvation.
Morsi hinted in the past that although he opposes normalization with Israel, he has no intention to annul the peace treaty, and Muhammad says he believes him: "We won't be fighting Israel and will maintain the Camp-David Accord while recognizing a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders…we'll be securing the border with Israel properly."
Voter leaving polling station in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt under Morsi and the Islamic Brotherhood's leadership will not turn into a religious state like Iran, Muhammad said. "We'll be a civil society with an Islamic source of authority."
Issra, a local journalist, says she also intends to vote for Morsi, noting that foreign policy will not be a factor when she casts her ballot. "Ties with Israel are not my top priority," she said, further reinforcing the feeling among many Egyptians that ties with the Jewish state will not be affected.
Meanwhile, Shafiq supporters believe that he is the right man in the right place. Ibrahim from Port Said says that a win by the secular candidate will not change Egypt's relations with Israel, while the 20-year-old Shadi from northern Egypt credits the secular candidate for being the only one who agreed to head the government at the end of the Mubarak era.
Mohammad, 20, from Cairo, sums up by saying that he supports Shafiq not because he likes him, but rather, because of his opponent. "As opposed to Shafiq, the Islamic Brotherhood only cares about high-ranking posts and about taking the reins of power," he says.
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