With just days to go before the country's first post-revolution presidential election runoff, many Egyptians are still uncertain who to vote for after being left with an unpalatable choice between the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak's later premier Ahmed Shafiq.
Competition between the candidates has been fierce and much of the campaigning appears to be drawing on voters' fears. Shafiq's campaign has attempted to scare voters the spectre of a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated religious state, whilst Morsi's camp has played up fears of a military state dominated by figures from the former regime.
A look at the website of both campaign teams reveals a mixture of facts and rumours that range from the genuine to the outright ridiculous.
Ahram Online reviews the latest rumours circulating on the internet and in the streets of Cairo.
Rumours about Ahmed Shafiq
- Shafiq's wife is related to Hosni Mubarak
- His sister is married to a member of the Mubarak family
- He refused to let his daughter marry Gamal Mubarak
- The villa that his campaign team uses as a main office is owned by Ahmed Ezz, a business tycoon and former head of Mubarak's National Democratic Party, who is in prison for corruption
- Suzanne Mubarak said she would support Shafiq
- He was involved in corruption and illegal deals related to Cairo International Airport and Egypt Air
- He was the victim of an assassination attempt
- He would remove Quranic verses from the school syllabus
- He gets drunk or high before doing TV interviews
Rumours about Mohamed Morsi
- If Morsi was elected, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide would be the de facto president
- He would make all women wear the veil and ban them from working
- He would force men to dress traditionally and grow beards
- He would impose segregation in the workplace
- He would ban taxis
- He would bring an end to the tourism business and ban tourists from entering Egypt
- He would ban swimming in the sea and beach tourism
- He would ban cinema, music, theatre and all forms of arts
- He would only provide job opportunities to members of the Brotherhood and their relatives
- The Suez Canal would be rented or sold to Qatar
- He would sell the Sinai, and in another version rent it to Palestinians, or open the borders with Palestine and allow Palestinian immigration to Egypt
- He would establish an Islamic caliphate with Jerusalem as its capital
- He would form a street militia to arrest, torture and kill his opponents
Rumours about both Shafiq and Morsi
- They both have American citizenship
- Boycotting is in their favour
- Each camp is setting the other’s offices on fire
- They buy votes
There are endless rumours about Morsi, more than about Shafiq, which some say is because Shafiq’s campaign is behind them or because the former regime is working against Morsi.
How do rumours affect people's decisions? Ahram Online takes to the streets
“I voted for Shafiq in the first round, but won’t vote for him again. He is a liar. He said those who killed protesters were from the Brotherhood, but we all know that they were Mubarak’s thugs. This lie showed that he is undoubtedly feloul (remnant of the old regime),” said Ayman Abdel-Karim, assistant cashier at a supermarket.
Abdel-Karim, who has three daughters and earns LE400 (almost $70 a month), lives in the impoverished district of Meet Oqba. He became visibly angry when he described how Ahmed Shafiq allegedly "rented a billboard in one of the buildings in my neighbourhood. Guess how much it cost for just two weeks? LE 800,000. Is this fair? Whose money is this?"
Abdel-Karim will boycott the runoff together with his family, but his colleagues Shady Hassan and Ahmed Riad will both vote for Mohammed Morsi.
"We definitely don’t want Shafiq because he is a killer like Mubarak. He is also a thief. He is involved in money laundering and took LE20 billion or so when doing the airport project. So we will vote for Dr Mohamed Morsi,” said Riad.
Hassan added that the Brotherhood was better than Shafiq but the problem was that "all the thieves in the country will grow beards to guarantee their protection, and the Brotherhood will grow like a monster."
Across the street from the supermarket was a busy franchise cafe in the upscale neighbourhood of Mohandiseen. Most of the staff there voted for the Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi in the first round and are hoping that the Political Disenfranchisement Law, which will be ruled on by a Cairo court on 14 June, will disqualify Shafiq from the runoff and allow Sabbahi to take his place.
Most of the workers in the supermarket will boycott the runoff, with the exception of Doaa, who will vote for Shafiq because "the Brotherhood will not allow me to work, and I can’t afford to stay at home.”
“Shafiq and Wagdy, the former interior minister, intentionally hid or burnt the evidence that proved the involvement of Hosni Mubarak and Habib El-Adly in killing protesters during the Battle of the Camel. There are also money laundering cases against him. He should be on trial or be in jail, not standing for president,” said Mohamed Hassan.
Yasser Ahmed of Mohammed Morsi’s campaign team says spreading rumours is a sign of incompetence:
“You only resort to spreading rumours when you are sure you cannot win in a fair competition. It shows a lack of respect for Egyptians and insults the mind of the voters. It is so cheap.”
Ahmed denied that Morsi’s campaign fought rumours with rumours. “That’s not one of our methods,” he said firmly.
Shafiq's campaign team was unavailable for comment. However, at his last press conference on 10 June, Shafiq attacked the Brotherhood for spreading false rumours against him and trying to scare voters.
“I will not be scared by the media shows on foreign channels that attack me and support the Brotherhood. Egyptians don’t like other people interfering in their internal affairs,” said Shafiq, possibly in reference to Al Jazeera.
He added that he would “protect the Suez Canal from those who want to sell it, and I will firmly face anyone who wants to take the lands of Sinai.”
Rumours get stronger and funnier every day, but the three camps - Morsi, Shafiq and the boycotters - are waiting patiently for a court order on 14 June that could completely alter the path of Egypt's new democracy.