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Voting Begins in Egypt's Historic Elections

Egyptians got their first taste of democracy Monday since Mubarak's resignation.

Egyptians lined up outside voting stations in Cairo on Monday to take place in the country's first parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak resigned in February.

The election's results will be a key indicator showing whether the country is on a track towards Islamism or secularism. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group, is expected to turn out in strong numbers at the polls.

"The Muslim Brotherhood are the people who have stood by us when times were difficult," said Ragya El-Said. "We have a lot of confidence in them."

Minority groups such as Christians, Pious Muslims, secularists and liberals went out to vote Monday to try and reduce the scope of the Muslim Brotherhood's power in parliament.

"We are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood," said Iris Nawar at a polling station outside of Cairo. "But we lived for 30 years under Mubarak, we will live with them, too."

People lined up and waited for hours for their chance to vote after decades of rigged voting. Under Mubarak's administration, turnout was often in the single digits due to bribery, ballot-box stuffing or police intimidation.

"It's a bit chaotic because we've never seen this many people vote," 34-year-old Cairo resident Tokya Youssef said. "No one cared this much before."

Monday's elections will continue Tuesday, a part of the first of three rounds which will decide 498 seats in parliament's lower chamber. The next two rounds of voting will take place in December and January. Voting for the 390 members of the upper house of parliament will last until March.

Some people fear voting will be rigged, since each round of voting will be done over a two day span with ballot boxes remaining at polling locations overnight. Others believe the elections will be all for not because of the lingering military rule in Egypt.

"So they'll elect a parliament, but they won't give it any power or let it write the Constitution," said protester Ibrahim Hassan. "So what's the point?"

Despite doubts of a legitimate election process, many remained positive in their first chance to vote in decades.

"This is my life, it's my baby's life," 38-yaer-old mother Sanaa El-Hawary said. "It's my country and this is the only hope we have now."

Officials braced for anticipated outbreaks of violence, but so far no threats have materialized. Egypt is currently under military rule, which has resulted in protests in which demonstraters demand the military relenquish control to civilians.

"I have hope this time," said 50-year-old government employeee Amal Fathy. "I may not live long enough to see change, but my grandchildren will."



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