On Oct. 24, Mostafa Abdelrahman stepped out of his home in al-Arish, the sandswept capital of Egypt’s North Sinai province. Within seconds, two men pulled up on a motorcycle and shot him dead. His campaign for parliament was over. The same day, five other candidates pulled out of the race. Abdelrahman’s death highlights the dangers of holding elections in a region where the Egyptian military is fighting militants affiliated to Islamic State who have killed hundreds of soldiers and police in the past two years. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi presents the vote as the last step towards restoring democracy, two years after he ousted Egypt’s first freely-elected president, Islamist Mohamed Mursi.
The fighting in North Sinai, a strategically important stretch of desert bordering Israel, Gaza and the international shipping lane of the Suez Canal, intensified soon after Mursi’s downfall.
With candidates pulling out, some after receiving death threats from militants, and voters saying they do not feel safe enough to vote, those still running believe the election on Nov. 22-23 is likely to have a measly turnout in North Sinai.