In Egypt’s Islamist heartland, voters voice doubts about Muslim Brotherhood

Voters in the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo are impatient with the Muslim Brotherhood‘s lack of accomplishments during their short tenure in parliament.

Egyptian men wait outside a polling center to cast their votes in Imbaba neighborhood in Giza, Egypt, Wednesday, May 23. More than 15 months since the uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak from power, Egyptians streamed to polling stations Wednesday to freely choose a president for the first time in generations.
(Ahmed Ali/AP)

By Kristen Chick, Correspondent  posted May 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm EDT


In 1992, Imbaba was a hotbed of Islamic militancy. Militants effectively took control of the Cairo neighborhood and pronounced it an Islamic emirate. The  military had to send thousands of troops in to bring the area back under control.

Today, the military is in Imbaba for another reason—overseeing voting for Egypt’s first president since the uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak from power. The two-day election will determine whether an Islamist will be the next president of Egypt. One possibility is Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of Egypt’s most organized political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Imbaba, a chaotic and mostly poor area, is home to 500,000 registered voters and would seem an ideal place  for the Muslim Brotherhood to win votes. In December parliamentary elections, about 70 percent of the district that includes Imbaba voted for Islamist parties – either the FJP or the ultraconservative Nour Party.

But many voters on Thursday said they were steering clear of the Brotherhood’s candidate, citing disillusionment with the party’s performance in parliament, or an aversion to the organization’s attempt to dominate the legislative and executive branches of government. Many said they would cast their votes for a leftist or the candidate most closely associated with Mubarak’s regime. Even if Mr. Morsi carries the area’s votes, the discontent is a sign of the risk the Brotherhood has taken in reaching for so much, so soon.

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