JPost correspondent: ‘I felt a personal boycott in Cairo’
Eliezer Sherman on his impressions as a journalist from Israel in Egypt during election time.
Ahmed Shafiq supporters shout slogans Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Following his return from Cairo, The Jerusalem Post’s correspondent, Eliezer Sherman, shares his experiences of being on the ground during the first round of the presidential elections.
According to Sherman, there was a feeling that democracy had prevailed, but coupled with that was the feeling that people in the Egyptian capital did not understand how to utilize their newfound freedom. The atmosphere was a mixture of tension on the one hand, and excitement on the other.
Sherman reported on the total disintegration of security apparatus and the ensuing sense of lawlessness in the country. However, a marked change from ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime was that at least now people were not afraid to talk about it openly. “Now they have the freedom to say ‘‘this isn’t working,’” said Sherman.
So how did Sherman handle being an journalist from Israel in Egypt during such an unstable time? “Paranoia was there,” said Sherman, “For a lot of Jews in Egypt it’s an issue of how you want to present yourself.” The reporter had tried to contact old friends with whom he had become acquainted years ago when he was a resident of the city, but the friends refused to return his calls. “It was the first time I had ever felt a personal boycott against me.”
Sherman asserted that the electoral party with the highest level of mobilization differed in the urban and rural areas. Whereas in Cairo, the camp around the Nasserite socialist Hamdeen Sabahi had the strongest footing, the same was not true outside the city. According to Sherman, Sabahi appeals to the younger, more liberal residents of Cairo, including many who were eager to overthrow the previous regime. Sherman acknowledged that Cairo and Alexandria are bubbles and that outside of the big cities, the Muslim Brotherhood, represented by its candidate Mohamed Morsi , has a lot more power. In those areas, the MB was able to mobilize socially rather than politically and today they are reaping the rewards.