Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in Egypt’s presidential election.
Election officials declared Morsi the nation’s first freely elected president on Sunday, marking a major milestone in the Arab world’s tumultuous democratic transition.
Having won just over 51% of the vote, Mr. Morsi narrowly managed to beat the former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. The results dissipated mounting fears that a win for Shafiq might have spelled the end of the Arab Spring and caused violent protests to erupt. The outcome has also given hope to many Syrian’s still fighting for democracy in their own country. Syria’s opposition said that Cairo was again a “source of hope” for people “facing a repressive war of annihilation.”
In his televised address yesterday, Morsi paid tribute to the protesters killed in last year's uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak saying without the "blood of the martyrs" he would not have been elected.
"The revolution goes on, carries on until all the objectives of the revolution are achieved and together we will complete this march. The people have been patient long enough," he said.
Congratulations for Morsi Amid Concerns
On Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama called Mohammed Morsi to congratulate him and pledge to "support Egypt's transition to democracy and stand by the Egyptian people as they fulfill the promise of the revolution." The White House also issued a statement encouraging Morsi "to take steps at this historic time to advance national unity by reaching out to all parties and constituencies," including respecting the rights of women and religious minorities.
Many secular Egyptians have voiced concern about having an Islamist ruler in a country that has, for a long time, had a moderate and secular pro-American government. In addition, some Womens’ Rights advocates are wary given Mr. Morsi’s often divisive figure within the Muslim Brotherhood. A few years ago, Morsi was one of the architects of a draft policy which formally opposed the right of women to be president, however, the draft was never adopted. In an attempt to quell these concerns, Morsi promised to “protect the rights of women and children,” as well as Christians and Muslims alike.
Morsi also repeated his respect for international treaties saying he will “preserve all national and international agreements,” in a subtle gesture to Israel which has been concerned about its 1979 peace deal with Egypt. Although in the past, Morsi has referred to Israel’s leaders as “vampires”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “respects the results” and “looks forward to continuing cooperation.”
Report: Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi urges 'unity' in first speech as Egypt's president-elect(CNN, 24 June, 2012)
Report: Islamist Wins Egyptian Vote (Wall St Journal, 24 June, 2012)
Report: Egypt election results fill Tahrir Square with joy (LA Times, 24 June, 2012)
Report: Egypt's president-elect Mursi calls for national unity (BBC, 25 June, 2012)
Report: Egypt's Islamist president begins building government (Reuters, 25 June, 2012)