KAFR EL-MESELHA, Egypt -- In the birthplace of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, where his pristine picture once hung over the bridge that welcomes visitors and residents know the Mubarak family by name, Shedya Abdel Aziz bravely announced Thursday that she had voted for someone other than Mubaraks branded heir apparent, Ahmed Shafik, in this weeks presidential election.
Anyone who voted for Shafik is filthy! He is a crook just like Mubarak! she yelled at a group of neighbors talking about the vote, which took place nationwide Wednesday and Thursday. Go to hell, you and him! Mohammed Abu Abdullah, 45, yelled back to her, referring to Shafik.
In many ways, Kafr el-Meselha is like every other Egyptian community, wrestling with its feelings toward a revolution that has left them both free to live and imprisoned by the hardened life that comes with moving from autocracy to democracy. Like much of Egypt, it, too, has oscillated between calls for change and demands for stability.
But this educated, verdant agricultural town, which sits on a branch of the Nile River, also confronts one more complication: How much pride it should take that a former president was born here and whether those feelings will be welcome in the new Egypt.
With balloting over in Egypts two-day presidential election, Egyptians everywhere were waiting for what that new Egypt might look like. Counting began as soon as the polls closed Thursday night. The country's election commission said Friday that official results would not be released until Tuesday, but unofficial results were poring in from across the country.
With slightly more than half the vote tabulated, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohammed Morsi, was leading, with Arab nationalist Hamdeen Sabahi and Shafik battling to be No. 2. But few results were in from Cairo or Alexandria, which together account for 25 percent of the vote, and the finishing order was still unsettled in the early afternoon Friday. Former Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa, and Islamist moderate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh appeared to be out of the running.
The shifting mood of voters was on display here, too, a town about 50 miles north of Cairo that sits in the only governorate that has produced two of Egypts presidents. Anwar Sadat was born a few miles away, but his relationship with his roots was far clearer. He visited often, sometimes inviting dignitaries. Mubarak didnt talk to his family here, let alone visit. Perhaps that makes the decision of what Mubarak means to Kafr el-Meselha more difficult for those that remain here.
Fifteen months ago, when Mubarak was forced to resign, the residents were shocked into silence. Just a few weeks ago, speaking up to defend Mubaraks regime was difficult. The Muslim Brotherhood swept through and promised Islamic-based change in Parliament, residents said. At that time, Kafr el-Mehelha welcomed the Islamists and seemingly shunned its past ties.
But the nations disillusionment with both the Brotherhood and the revolution amid rampant unemployment and rising crime nationwide suddenly opened the door here for those who want to say they support the old regime and the stability that came with it. Mubarak was a victim of his familys grabs for power, particularly his wife, Suzanne, and son Gamal, supporters argue.
To be sure, the feeling is not universal. Younger voters, including Mubaraks relatives who still live here, said they voted for Sabahi, who espouses the philosophy of the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, calling him the only untainted candidate in the race who can bring real reforms to Egypt.