Screenshot of "Instead of voting" hashtag
By Omnia Talal
In a comic twist, away from the frenzied debates between the boycotting and voting camps, Egypt's virtual activists started an #instead_of_voting hashtag, where users made hilarious suggestions on what to do instead of going to the polls to mark the first of two days of voting for Egypt's next parliament.
It became the most trending hashtag on Twitter for Egyptian social media users, with some 7000 tweets sharing value propostions within hours of starting the hashtag.
In a jab at the recent hike in food prices, one twitter user suggested planting tomatos to sell for EGP 10 or beans for EGP 14. Another suggested dancing, while a third proposed beating ourselves up over the depreciation of the Egyptian pound.
The Central Bank of Egypt depreciated the pound Sunday for the second time in four days, which is now changing hands at 8.03 pounds to the dollar in the official market and around 8.40 in the black market.
Egyptians both inside and outside the country went to the polls to elect members of the House of Representatives in the first phase of two phases of voting in 14 out of 27 provinces.
Over 27.4 eligible voters in the first phase cast their votes in 103 polling stations to choose 568 representatives.
Judging by conversations taking place on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the small youth turnout today according to statistics announced by the Supreme Electoral Commission, young Egyptians have become apathetic about the whole process.
Journalist Amr Badr sarcastically quipped in a Facebook post: "Don't boycott or else the Salafis will take over parliament. What's the alternative? Vote and let the National Democratic Party take over."
Former members of the now-defunct National Democratic Party, which dominated political life under the ousted President Mubarak, are fiercely contesting the current elections, facing below average competition from the ultra-concervative Salafis. The Salafis have been used by the pro-voting camp to counter calls for a boycott.
However, Badr told Aswat Masriya in a phone interview that boycotting is the only choice. "It is a clear stand against all public policies." He believes that the next the House of Representatives will be a rubberstamp parliament who's role is to approve laws issued by the regime in the past two years and to ammend the constitution in order to strip parliament from its powers over the executive.
Scriptwriter, Bassem Sharaf, agrees, believing that there is no point in participating in elections.
"I have a reached a level of political awareness... like most people I have become so mature to the point of apathy. I don't understand why people still believe in elections," he said.
He said that most youth are furstrated with the political reality, which "failed to address our problems and is going from bad to worse."
Sharaf was a member of the committee that put forth proposals for Egypt's constitution, which passed in a public referendum in 2014.
"After seeing that there is no respect for the constitution or its articles, I decided to stay away. There is no hope ... things will stay the same," he said.