Egyptians demand the #right2vote

The Occupy Wall Street movement gained a global perspective on Oct. 8, when Egyptian protesters took to the streets in their #right2vote campaign to participate from abroad in their homeland’s elections. Activists from all over the world tweeted from their respective protest locations, using the hashtag #right2vote.

The two dozen Egyptian demonstrators were calling on the ruling military council in their home country to allow absentee voting. Their march from Zuccotti Park to Washington Square Park was part of a larger global protest that spanned from Cairo and London to Madrid and Hong Kong.

Until earlier this year, Egypt was one of roughly 100 countries and territories that either did not allow or made no provisions for external voting.

In April, the Egyptian Cabinet approved an electronic voting system to be used for those voting abroad. Then, two months later, a minister was quoted as saying Egyptians living abroad would not be allowed to vote.

Many expatriates think the country’s ruling military council is dragging its feet in putting the final stamp of approval on the matter.

Dalia Abusharr, who left Egypt over 25 years ago, believes the military council’s lack of action means the council wants to sideline the roughly nine million Egyptian expatriates and keep them from having their say.

“The men that are in power, they are not wanting our voices to be heard. They are doing this because they know we want freedom, we want democracy, and we want a secular Egypt,” said Abusharr.

Ahmed Fathy left Egypt over two decades ago. He said he felt privileged to see the revolution occur, but now wants a hand in taking care of the unfinished business left behind in the wake of the former regime.

“We want to have a say in the way our native country are being shaped at this critical moment. We don’t want it to be left to extremist groups, but we want to have a say in how we are going to bring the future generations, in the new constitution, who will be ruling Egypt to establish the change we have all been yearning for,” Fathi said.

Cheers and applause greeted the protesters at Zuccotti Park as they chanted,
“From Cairo to Wall Street, the people’s voices can’t be beat.”

Many from the Occupy Wall Street movement stopped and thanked Egyptians for paving the way for protests in America. One man said, “Revolt like an Egyptian” as he walked past the group.

On Oct. 9, one day after the global protests, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Egyptians living abroad would be able to vote in upcoming national elections via the Internet, at an Egyptian Embassy or through judicial commissions that will be sent to countries with large Egyptian communities.

The plan still needs approval from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Abusharr says that no matter what the military council says, she will do everything in her power to vote.

“I’m going to fight every way legally, through the consulate, through Congress through any means that we can do to be able to vote. Because we still are part of Egypt.”

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