Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Meditation through participation

I voted, and I feel good because of it.

I've been pretty vocal against the call to boycott today's referundum, but I never dared to call on people to go and vote. Because although I'm strongly against the boycott, I know that the result of today's referundum is well known in advance, and tomorrow's headline news in the local papers were already written yesterday.

Ofcourse its useless to go vote as long as only a minority --whom are mostly pro the regime (for all the different reasons)-- are the only ones to go, regardless if the referundum environment is fair and clean or not. So today, those who boycotted the referundum lost, and those who went and said No to the new constitution amendment text lost.

I've been feeling very silly all day for my insistence to go vote, until I actually voted.

In the morning, most of my colleagues at work were making jokes about the referundum. During a conference call, there was a disagreement and someone suggested that we should make our own referundum to come up with a decision. Another one responded that Ahmed is boycotting the referundum, so its not a good idea.

During a rare conversation I was having with my religious colleague, I asked him why he's boycotting the elections. "Is it because you just don't care, like most of us, or are you following the boycott of one of the opposition movements? You know Mahdy Akef [the Muslim Brotherhood leader] called on the Muslim Brothers to go and vote No." He responded with the usual boycott argument and that the Muslim Brotherhood provided conflicting statements regarding the boycott.

My company had decided that all employees would have a shorter day today to be able to go participate in the referundum (you can sure tell that our senior executives are not Egyptian). Most employees took off early to enjoy the rest of the day with their families. A few line managers however decided that there is work to do, and no one questioned what the priorities are (working or voting). I however, decided to leave at 4.30 instead of 3.30, and I still got that look, "you're not seriuos are you, you're not leaving us here and leaving!". Well, I still left, and avoided an argument of whether 'going to vote' (not the referundum itself) was more important than delaying the work, or not.

I went to a school in my area, asked them if they had a polling station, and they directed me to another near by school. While I was asking, I was wondering what they must be thinking of this stupid guy who's going to vote. They were however very helpful in directing me to the other school. I went to the other school, which had a small sign indicating that there is a polling station inside, and a big sign supporting the amendment text to the constitution, with a big Yes, to it, and to President Mubarak as well. Inside, a bunch of folks/administrators who belong to the school and to the Ministry of Interior were hanging around, and some were in uniform. Feeling that I'm doing something wrong, I shyly asked where the poll station was, and they kindly directed me to the third floor. "Do you have an election card?", "No" I said, "Just my National ID". "No problem, just tell them upstairs to use the daftar elwafedeen".

Upstairs, two government employees (didn't look like judges) handed me the ballot card, and I handed them my National ID. I asked them if many people came to vote today. They said, "Yeah, sure. Some said Yes, some said No, and some invalidated their vote to prove their existance. You can do whatever you want." I thought this was a secret ballot, but never mind. They were nice, and their answer was confident. They didn't have executive orders to act in a certain way, because the executives are confident enough in the results.

I asked them how to mark my ballot card, marked the card, thanked them, and left. On my way out, four classy persons were going in the school, so I nodded to them in support.

I was feeling silly all day for wanting to go vote and for insisting to go. I kept having that inner voice telling me, "you shouldn't leave your colleagues at work for that silly vote. You probably have to be registered and have an election card to be able to vote, so better go home. If you don't find the polling station in this school, then just go home and enjoy the rest of the day. The school seems to be closed, just go home." But for some silly reason, I was stubborn until I marked that useless ballot card, and boy did I feel good about it.

Of the few people I talked to today about the referundum, only one person went to vote. Most don't care, some were boycotting, some were busy with more important stuff. I called a couple of friends on my way there, one said "cool I'll come, but pick me up and let's go together", but I was short in time, so I unfortunately dropped him. The other said "I'll take a nap, and let's go out tonight". I called a friend involved with Kefaya after I finished voting to confirm his boycott, and to tell me that today's demonstration by Kefaya turned violent, protestors were beaten and girls were sexually harrased (I hope the two girls I know there weren't violated by those thugs). I talked to my dad who hasn't voted in years to tell him that I just voted, and he was astonished wondering where did I do it and if I needed an election card.

I was feeling so fine until right this moment after writing that last paragraph. Shit. There's no hope in this country.

UPDATE: A friend of mine just told me he saw one of the girls I know in the Kefaya demonstration on TV holding a banner and shouting slogans.


zoss said...

without hope, there would be no hope. so keep it alive.

you did yourself and your country proud. good for you. it'll amount to something someday.

everything sounds like a cliche.. dammit.. but i'll keep em so you get the idea..

Alaa said...

we're getting conflicting reports on voting with your national ID, but the thing about automatic registration is confirmed, its for the new raqam qawmy thing.

Mohamed said...

I had no problems at all voting with my National ID (rakam qawmy), and it seemed pretty normal and routine. They didn't check if I'm registered or not. Orientalism however says they wouldn't let him.

I could've easily gone to more than one polling station to vote using my ID, no problems. They took my info in a book, and that's it, nothing else to indicate I voted. The upcoming parliamentary elections is a different story though.

(My salutation to your protest today man.)

Nafeesa from Kafr Aboutisht said...

Have you ever wonder, why is it boycottt and not girlcott? Is it because girls attend every thing?

Just wondering....

Orientalism said...

Mo, lucky lucky lucky! I Still dont know why the guy wouldnt let me

SoundWinds said...

Good Question Nafeesa from Kafr Aboutisht! I've always wondered that too.

Anonymous said...

Have a question. If the majority of the people voted No, and it was publicly announced that the result was NO, what would happen afterwards? Would they have another round of modification, or would we be stuck with the old one?

Mohamed said...

A No vote means you're against the amendment and the constitution remains as is (which is why those who boycott are saying that neither votes yes/no helps). I happen to think that if alot of people showed up to say No, the regime would've been compelled to take the amendments through parliament again for another go.

The result of the referundum is a Yes however --before they count the ballots. They won this round.

MoonLightShadow said...

Lucky you!

Wished I was able to go. But an inner feeling prevented me from going. Though I was very much enthusiastic about it and I went to the police office the day before the referundum to ask about my voting card and the possiblity of using the national ID instead.

Tell you the truth. That visit to the police office disappointed me. I felt people there know nothing, they were giving me that weird look, ask if I’m asking about something that doesn’t exist. But still till that moment, I was planning to go.

Watching the Egyptian TV on the referundum day made me stuck at home! They were pretty sure that it’s gonna be ‘Yes’. I even read couple of days before in one of the newspapers that they expect that the percentage of ‘Yes’ isn’t going to be less than 90% !!

I thought why bother myself, and exert an effort in doing something which I feel has no meaning. Add to that, I was niether going to say Yes, nor No.

Anyways, I regret it now not going.

Eman M said...

Mohammed, you should be proud that you participated in this.
You know? You shouldn't have had all these cofused feelings you had before voting, you were already doing the right thing.
I really wanted to go, but I couldn't unfortunately.

Mohammed, let's always seek for the hope, don't let disappointments fill our air, i admit that it is really yet disappoinintg, but let's pray for the better ensha'Allah.