A movement to boycott this week’s runoff presidential election is gaining momentum, threatening Egypt’s restive transition to democracy and revealing a sharpening disdain by voters over the choice between a conservative Islamist and a holdover from the old guard. That dilemma highlights the polarizing struggle between political Islam and the secular police state. The state has handily won this battle since the 1950s. But the country’s first free presidential election shows Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi in a tight race with Ahmed Shafik, a remnant of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s government. Between their camps lies a chasm of disaffected Egyptians demanding adherence to the ideals that have spurred uprisings across the Arab world since early last year. These voters — representing a slight majority of those who cast ballots in the first round last month — are liberals, socialists, moderate Islamists and others who fear a landmark moment for democracy is being lost to established, unimaginative voices. “It does not make sense to choose between two wrongs,” Mona Ammar, a protester on Tahrir Square, said of Morsi and Shafik. “If Shafik wins we will rise against him, but it could even be more dangerous if Morsi wins because he will try and use religion to placate and stall the people.”
Such sentiment lays bare divisions rising from a revolution that for a tantalizing moment promised unity. But from that day 16 months ago when Mubarak relinquished power, fissures deepened and young progressive activists failed to inspire a political renaissance. The nation has turned spiritless and bitter; there is concern that the election on Saturday and Sunday will ignite fresh unrest. The boycott is loosely organized around activist and revolutionary groups that have watched their relevance ebb. Once-prominent organizations like April 6 despise Shafik as a symbol of the repressive past but they also criticize Morsi as anathema to their desire for sweeping change.
Full Article: Egypt election boycott gains momentum – latimes.com.