In media coverage, on the Web and in tea houses and coffee shops across the Middle East, Egypt’s historic presidential elections were greeted with high hopes as well as apprehension. Residents of Cairo vote in Egypt’s first free presidential election. WSJ’s Charles Levinson reports. The sentiments underscored the deep divisions in the region and cast doubt on the initial euphoria of the Arab Spring, when uprisings toppled longtime leaders in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen but spiraled into war in Syria and a standoff in Bahrain. For activists in Libya, Egypt’s neighbor to the west, as well as in Bahrain and Syria, a smooth election and political transition in the Arab world’s most populous state would be a welcome boost.
But an election that could further embolden Islamists in a Sunni Muslim-dominated nation could be further cause for alarm for many Shiite Muslims and minorities in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, where sectarian tensions have reached boiling points. “Bahrain isn’t an exception, and we will do the same soon,” read a message on Thursday on the Twitter account of a Bahraini activist who goes by the nickname Abu Saber, congratulating Egyptians for their first free election in decades.
The Arab world’s most-watched television stations, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya and Qatar-based al-Jazeera, mobilized extensive resources to cover the Egyptian vote with live reports from anchors and correspondents as well as commentary, analysis and features broadcast on the airwaves and streamed on the Internet. For the first time in months, news from Egypt topped those channels’ coverage of the continuing conflict in Syria. On its website, al-Jazeera offered an interactive surveythat allowed Egyptians and non-Egyptians to see how their choice from the 13 contenders for the presidency stacked up against their own views on issues affecting Egypt’s future.
Full Article: Egypt Vote Watched With Hope, and Fears – WSJ.com.