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Postcards from Egypt: This is the president we want

On the eve of the final round of Egypt's presidential elections, Ahram Online walked through the streets of Cairo to ask ordinary people what they want from the next president

Ahram Online, Friday 15 Jun 2012
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Juice seller Ibrahim Adel dreams of a better life for Egypt's youth (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Views: 2985

In less than 10 days, Egypt will have its first post-revolution president. It will be a historic moment for many Egyptians and a great victory for the Egyptian revolution.

Since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011, much has been said about the next president and what his duties will be towards the Egyptian people. But the most important question is: What do the Egyptian people want in their new president? And what dreams do they have for Egypt’s future? Ahram Online headed out into the streets of Cairo to find out.

Khalifa Mahmoud has been working as a seller of touristic trinkets on Talaat Harb Street for the past 30 years.

khalifa Mahmoud
khalifa Mahmoud (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

“I want a president who will work to make the Egyptian people comfortable and happy. Life has been really hard for us Egyptians during the past few years. Everything is expensive and we are not able to enjoy even the most basic things. The 30 years of Mubarak were 30 years of hell. But our dreams are simple. We don’t want to own cars or have an expensive house or any other luxuries. We just want basic living standards to be improved. I see people owning thousands of pounds while I don’t even have LE20. I’m also selling in this place illegally and the police are constantly coming to remove me and take my wares. All I dream of is a place to sell my products in peace.”

Beshir Mohamed is a 19-year-old juice seller in downtown Cairo. He has a business diploma but was not able to get a job, so he resorted to selling local Egyptian drinks to pedestrians in the street.

Beshir Mohamed
Beshir Mohamed

“I think the most important job of the next president is to bring back security to the country. For the past two years, we’ve really struggled in dealing with the thugs and thieves who are constantly harassing us, especially here in downtown Cairo. I also want a better job. I want to make money to be able to get married and maybe have children some day. Selling juice means that your life will be hard, and now people don’t even want to buy juice anymore because they don’t have any money and want to save what little they have. I am 19 years old and I just want a better future and a better life for myself. I want a president who actually cares about the people, especially the youth.”

Ehab Fathi works as a shisha (waterpipe) man and has two children.

Ehab Fathi
Ehab Fathi

“Of course stability is the most important thing. However, I am really worried about my health. Here in downtown Cairo we took the brunt of the tear gas. Many of my friends who work around this area are suffering from cancer and other health problems and I am really worried about that. We are poor, we don’t have money to pay for healthcare. So I would like the new president to pay attention to public services like health, so that citizens like me don’t have to worry about it. However, I am not really happy with the Brotherhood. I believe that they want to take the country by force and that is not a good sign. That’s why I don’t forsee any stability in the country in the near future.”

Hassan Youssef has been a shoe seller for the past 30 years. He has three children.

Hassan Youssef
Hassan Youssef

“I want a president who has experience, who will not learn how to be president on the job. We have no time for that. Egypt is going through a crisis and we want someone who will fix our problems fast. I make only LE20 per day. I want a new job. I want something stable with a fixed income so I can raise my children. I don’t care what it is. I’ll work as a janitor if I have to as long as it is stable. I want my kids to have a good life. I want to be able to have enough money to help them get married one day. Schools are really expensive and you need money for private lessons and other things. I want the new president to reform the education sector in order to ease the pressure off the parents and to also help create a new educated youth who can move this country forward. That’s all I want in my life; a better future for my sons.”

Ibrahim Adel is a juice seller and is 17 years old.

Ibrahim Adel
Ibrahim Adel

“I’ve been working in this job since I was six years old. My father was a juice seller and I used to go out with him and tour the streets as a young child. It’s a very difficult job, and it means that you have to spend hours in the sun and in the end make no money. I want the new president to be one of us and not be untouchable like Mubarak. I want him to feel what is happening in the street, to feel our pain and not only focus on a small category of Egyptian society and ignore the rest of us. I am proud of my father’s craft. I have no problem if I remain a juice seller for the rest of my life. But I want security. I want to know if I have children I will be able to feed them. I don’t want to live in terror of the future. Another issue is the increasing use of drugs in Egypt. We see it a lot here in downtown Cairo. So many people are taking one form of narcotics or another and it’s growing like a cancer in our society. I think the new president should pay attention to this terrible issue and try and resolve it.”

Mohamed Abdel Aziz is a shisha (water-pipe) boy.

Mohamed Abdel Aziz
Mohamed Abdel Aziz

“To hell with both presidential candidates. I don’t care about either one. What I care about is that the prices in Egypt have soared, that we can no longer afford even the most basic things like vegetables. Another problem is the lack of security. My brothers have been assaulted by thugs and had their money stolen several times and that was in our neighbourhood. We Egyptians are not used to this. Our country has always been safe. All we want is better prices, an improvement in our living standards and the ability to walk in our streets without being mugged. And the president should be humble and understand the problems of the people. I don’t want a new dictator who will ignore us like Mubarak. ”

Sayed Tawfik has a business selling poultry.

SayedTawfik
SayedTawfik

“I want a president who is not a thief who robs the Egyptian people of their money. I want a president who doesn’t lie and say there is bird flu and let his mafia come and take our poultry and sell it to one another, like Mubarak did. I want the new president to insure that Egypt’s stolen money is returned back to the people. I want the new president to get rid of all the remnants of the Mubarak regime so that we can start a new and fresh life without corruption. But it is important that the new president has experience and won’t experiment on us. There is no time for that. We also want a president who is worthy of presenting a nation like Egypt. We can’t have a president wearing a galabeya. I can wear the galabeya because I am a seller, but the president should look presentable. Can the head of the armed forces be wearing a galabeya? No, of course not. The whole world will laugh at us. We want a strong leader who has dignity and who will be able to lead us forward. We also want someone who will respect women’s rights, because Eastern women are already repressed and do not need someone to put more pressure on them.”

Mohamed Ahmed has been a bread seller for 17 years. He has five children.

Mohamed Ahmed
Mohamed Ahmed

“The Egyptian revolution was launched to demand freedom and social justice. But the past two years have been hard and I have not seen the situation get any better. The next president should work to make our lives better, help us get better jobs, and put food on the table. All I want is good education for my children and good healthcare. Whenever I go to the hospital, they make me wait for hours and then they ask me to pay money that I simply don’t have. All this just for basic healthcare. So I would like the new president to improve our healthcare system. I want him to be just and to have the Egyptian people in his heart. We want Egypt to go back to its old glory. It’s impossible to know if the coming president will be good or not, but we have faith in God, we have a lot of faith in God.”

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