Veiled women in Egypt 370.
(photo credit: Amr Dalsh / Reuters)
CAIRO – Hamdeen Sabahy, the longtime opposition activist who has become the dark
horse in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections, has become the most ubiquitous
face in Cairo.
With elections slated for this Wednesday and Thursday,
Egypt and the Arab world’s largest city has transformed into a heated
battleground for the 13 candidates vying for the country’s first vacant
presidential throne in over three decades.
Still, from the 22-kilometer
stretch of Cairean highway that runs from the Egyptian international airport to
downtown Cairo, the pulsating heart of the city where mass protests drove former
dogged president Hosni Mubarak from power, three faces gleam more than any
The most prevalent of the three is that of leftist-Nasserist
candidate Sabahy, whose posters with the slogan “One of Us” hang from utility
poles and lampposts lining the ring road that circumvents the city, and are
plastered on walls and hug trees providing shade in Cairo’s downtown
Second to Sabahy, placards and larger banners of the
Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Mursi, hang above Cairo’s stuffed
causeways and crosstown tunnels. Underneath an endearing photograph of the 60-
year-old candidate’s face, his slogan reads “Renaissance comes through the will
of the people.” Mursi’s previous slogan, “An Egyptian renaissance with an
Islamic point of reference,” came under fire by the Supreme Presidential
Elections Commission, Egypt’s official electoral body – which banned the use of
Mursi led Egypt’s expatriate vote this past week, AFP
reported, garnering nearly half of the votes that have already been
The fact that he often falls in third place or lower in a number
of Egyptian polls – such as the most recent survey by the Al-Ahram
he landed in third place with only 15 percent of votes – may point to the
unreliability of such polls in a country where ordinary citizens fear revealing
Or perhaps it indicates something about the
political nature of the Egyptians that have chosen to live and work outside
their home country. The largest such group, at 1.5 million people, lives in
The third candidate whose face noticeably lines Cairo’s
Autostrad road is that of Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, who was
disqualified and then requalified for the race by the official electoral
Shafiq is seen as popular with Egyptians that prefer a member
of the old guard, one with military experience, who can put an end to what many
see as a year of chaos resulting from a largely disbanded police force, and a
military being pushed to its limit maintaining order in some of the country’s
more lawless corners.
In addition to those three, an unusual caricature
from Cairo’s three-week campaign season marked the city’s walls in more than one
location: that of Omar Suleiman, a former presidential candidate whose campaign
lasted for only a number of days.
Suleiman, a former Egyptian spy chief,
was disqualified from the race over a lack of necessary signatures for his
His face, stenciled in black onto the walls of a number of
tunnels, was marked by a one-word slogan: President.