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Lamees El-sadek Headshot

Egypt Continues to Make History: Continued Engaged Citizenship to Carry Her Revolution

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The 48.3 percent of Egyptians who voted for presidential nominee and former Air Force Commander Ahmed Shafiq are certainly disappointed with Shafiq's election loss, but 100 percent of Egyptians should have fierce pride for what the world witnessed on June 24, 2012.

In only 16 months, Egyptians ousted 30 year president Hosni Mubarak through eighteen days of remarkably organized, responsible uprisings of civil resistance, transitioned into a military council run government, hosted presidential elections narrowed to two campaigns that have been applauded by heads of state worldwide, and in three days, Egypt will transition into civilian rule and seat her first democratically elected president in the nation's 7,000-year civilization.

Indeed, there were tense relations between the two candidates' parties throughout the campaign, as were accusations of voting fraud. But the fact all complaints were reviewed by Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission has renewed Egyptians' faith in the democratic process.

Creating history didn't end with the pyramids; Egyptians have demonstrated that with fair opportunities, they can continue to build world wonders.

51.7 percent of voters elected Dr. Mohammed Morsi, former chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, as Egypt's fifth president and tens of thousands of Morsi supporters have packed Tahrir Square in jubilation over his presidential win.

Similarly, there is deep disappointment by those who supported Shafiq's narrowly missed chance in office. With the Brotherhood's tumultuous history in Egypt and the region, one can respect why Shafiq supporters may be apprehensive about Egypt's future under a Muslim Brotherhood associated president. I understand as I, myself, was a Shafiq supporter.

However, a fatalistic attitude regarding a Morsi led government must be immediately discarded.

What kind of people would we be if we returned subservient to tyrant rule, believing that Egypt is once again out of the people's hand? That we have returned to the late Mubarak regime, by different name. That simply because you did not vote for the winning candidate, your rights as a minority will not be protected. What would this mentality make us?

It would make us many things, but certainly not an Egyptian people.

In his first speech as president-elect, Morsi pledged to serve as president for all Egyptians, calling for unity regardless of religion, gender, class, occupation, and affiliation. In another post-election interview with CNN news correspondent Christiane Amanpour, Morsi's policy adviser, Ahmed Deif, promised qualified Christian and female vice-presidents would be appointed to reinforce Morsi's national priority of inclusiveness.

Morsi has given his word, and although by a slim winning margin of 3.4 percent, the voters' final word is in favor of Morsi. We can no longer partisan ourselves as Shafiq and Morsi supporter, nor can we lament in hypothetical scenarios regarding Egypt's future.

Currently, I am in Cairo working with an Egyptian NGO and this morning I asked one of our patients if she's happy with our first democratic choice for president. She responded, "my daughter, it's not important who sits in that chair. I have four children, my family's entire income is 700 Egyptian pounds, and my health care costs alone are 1,000 Egyptian pounds. We're not done yet. Democracy is what happens next."

As we proceed through this revolutionary transition, I trust Egyptians to remember that the goal of January 25, 2011 was not to elect a new president. The goal was to command a dignified life for all Egyptians, regardless of class, religion, or gender. The goal was to garner basic, fair, equitable access to healthcare, education, employment, and civil liberties for all. The goal was to use the notorious ingenuity of the Egyptian people to emerge as a worldwide power in innovation, trade, and ideas, as her people and the world deserve. The goal for the Mother of All Civilizations remains to move towards days where not one of her children is faced with uncivilized treatment.

As a unified population, we must stand hand in hand, pressuring elected officials to ensure these rights not only for us, but also for our neighbor. Throughout every one of the 18 days of uprising, the minority protected the majority, the majority protected the minority. Man stood by woman, Muslim by Coptic, secular by religious, the surgeon by the garbage collector, the uneducated by the educated, the rich by the poor.

846 Egyptians died during the 18-day uprising. 846 Egyptians became martyrs -- so that the stranger on his left would have a chance to live. Thousands more were beaten, blinded, politically imprisoned, drug across streets, raped, and injured. In their name, we must not tire and we must, we must, we must carry the mission of January 25 forward.

Citizens -- all citizens, regardless of who they elected -- must, ourselves, be critical of and police our leaders, holding them accountable to the promises they made to protect Egypt's sons and daughters. Frustration or anger with any injustice should not be privatized in homes, as it was during the former regime, but must be brought into public eye. Immediately.

Less than 24 hours after Morsi's election win was announced, a group of Egyptian youth --including those who elected him -- revealed a website, the Morsi meter, to monitor whether Morsi follows through on his campaign promises for the first 100 days. This is the type of vigilant citizenship and civil political participation that should be protected as we walk forward.

Frustration with results or how votes were informed must not override the fact Egyptians have remembered their worth and power, successfully reaching a civilian-lead political and human rights milestone that has earned the admiration of even the most admired of Western democracies.

Two quotations come to mind as I reflect on Egypt's future. As Egypt's Coptic Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, may he rest in peace, globally notorious for his religious tolerance and focus on national unity, noted, "Egypt is not the country that we live in; but the country that lives in us."

Egypt is for every one of us and as Egyptian Revolutionary Wael Gonheim stated, it's imperative we never forget that "the power of the people is greater than the people in power."

From perspective as both Egyptian and American citizen, I recognize Egypt may consider herself a developing nation, but the rest of the world sees her audacity and civil brilliance as the best of developed.

Misr, Egypt, by the many names by which you are known: congratulations, congratulations, congratulations. Over and over again. May you continue to be guided with courage, engaged citizenship, and wisdom in leadership towards the four values chanted throughout the revolution. May you share rights of bread, freedom, dignity, and social justice. InshaAllah.

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