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Egypt: “Have a Voice” Campaign

As Egypt gears up for its 2011 presidential elections, a group of bloggers have launched a new campaign to make people believe that they can usher in change and make their voices heard through voting.

That's how the Have a Voice campaign started, when Ghada Abdel Aal, Sherif Abdel Aziz, Marianne Ngui Hanna, Enas Lotfy, Hany George and the director Amr Salama worked on a short film to promote the idea, then formed a Facebook group to discuss their message, before moving it over to the blogosphere.

Bothayna, one of the contributors in the campaign, wrote on her blog:

الحملة التي يقوم بها مجموعة من المدونين تطالب بأن يكون لك صوت .. لا يهم لمن ستتوجه بتأييدك وأي تيار سياسي تتبع ولكنها تدعو أن تمتلك الحق ‏في قول رأيك وأن تبادر باستخراج بطاقة انتخابية قبل انتهاء يناير من هذا العام .. وهي حملة تستحق كل تقدير واحترام من القائمين عليها وتستحق أن تتوقف لحظة وتتسائل : لماذا استهين بصوتي ..
The campaign, that's been launched by some bloggers, asking you to have a voice, doesn't really count which party you will vote for. It only calls on you to ask for your right. It asks you to go make your election card before the end of January. This campaign and the people working on it deserve a lot of respect. It also deserves that you think for a minute and ask yourself: Why do I underestimate my voice?
One of the logos used for the campaign, done by Egyptian blogger Tantawi.

One of the banners used for the campaign, done by Egyptian Blogger Tantawi.

Ehssan wrote in a blog post entitled Instead of my immigration visa, I will make my election card, saying:

ولأنه نقسى تكون 2010 بداية فى كل حاجة ومش زى اللى قبلها أجسام مبتورة ناقصها دايما حاجة ، حسيت أن الإنتخابات اللى هتبقى بعد سنة فرصة فى إيد كل واحد أنه يعمل حاجة بدل ما يقضيها تنظير وفزلكة و يرمى كل الخيبة اللى أحنا فيها على شماعة البلد الزفت اللى مش هتنفع وهتبقى الصومال قريب …….
يمكن لو حطينا أمل كبير قوى على الانتخابات نبقى غلطانين لأنه هى مش العصا السحرية اللى هتقلب مصر لسندريلا لكن بدل ما تقضل البلد زى ماهى فى دايرة الشكوى يبقى نبقى عملنا حاجة ممكن نمسح بيه التراب اللى غطى البلد وخنقها ، زى ما كل واحد بيقكر قى تأشيرة يسيب بيها البلد ويهرب من المجارى دى طيب مش قى سكته يطلع بطاقة إنتخابية ويكتب إسم مرشح شايف فيه أنه يقدر يعمل حاجة ..
And because I dream 2010 would be a new start, and not like other years where something is always missing; I felt that the elections that will be after a year is a real chance for us to do something positive, instead of whining about the bad situation we are living.

We don't have to put high hopes on the coming elections, because it isn't the magic stick that will turn Egypt into a Princess. But instead of letting the country stay where it is, and we keep criticizing .. we should do something positive to clean the dust that covered everything in the country and suffocated it. Instead of planning for your immigration, to run away from the current situation.. please do your election card as well, and elect the candidate you feel can do something good.

One of the campaign's founders, Sherif AbdElAziz explained why he decided to carry out this campaign, and how the idea started saying:

اشتغلنا كثير في حملات حقوق من كل نوع واشتغلنا علي الثقافة السائدة وحاولنا نغير فيها ، بس لما يجي وقت الانتخاب مبقاش ينفع الفرجة من بعيد ولا النقد بتاع الكسلانين …المرة دي …لازم انزل الشارع واروح المقر الانتخابي واقول رايي ايه في اي انتخابات جاية ومش كدة كمان ، انا لازم اخد معايا اكبر عدد ممكن واقنع ناس كثيرة قوي

المرة دي بالذات –واحنا لسة شباب – مبقاش ينفع استني الانقاذ من السماء ولا ان الاجيال اللي جاية تصحي وتنام في اللي هيا فيه ..عشان كدة انا اخترت يكون ليا صوت ، وعشان كدة انا شاركت في الفيديو الرائع اللي اخرجه المخرج الصديق عمرو سلامة وعشان كدة لمينا بعضنا – شوية مدونين – ومن خاطرة بدأت عند غادة عبد العال صاحبة مدونة عاوز اتجوز ، تحولت الي فكرة، واخدنا الفكرة ورحنا بيها لعمرو وعمرو اقتنع وبلورها وجاب فكرة الفيديو بشكل جميل ومعبر وشاركت انا وكام مدون ومدونة في التمثيل داخل الفيديو بدون منصرف قرش واحد

We worked a lot on campaigns which were pro Human Rights. We worked also on campaigns to change the surrounding culture. But when it comes to the coming elections, we can't stand still watching from a distance or do some more lazy criticism. This time, we need to go down to the streets and vote! Not only that – but to take the maximum number of people we can convince to go with us too.

Especially this time – while we are still young- we can not wait for a miracle, or that the new generations will wake up one day to find everything suddenly changed. That's why I chose to have a voice. That's why I took part in the marvelous video by my friend director Amr Salama. That's why we -some bloggers- gathered around a thought that Ghada AbdElAal suggested, and translated it into an idea. We took the idea and went to Amr, and Amr transformed it into this video that explains it beautifully. I took part in this video, along with other bloggers by acting, and without a single penny.

Another blogger, Azmiralda, wrote her reasons why she is supporting this campaign saying:

مش عايزه احس فى وقت من الاوقات ان انا كنت جزء و لو بسيط فى انى ضيعت فرصة ابنى او بنتى فى انه يعيش حياة احسن او مختلفة ، مش بيسمع تفس الكلام و بنفس الطريقة لبقية عمره و مفش حاجة بتحصل، ممكن زى ما بيتقال انه مفيش فايدة بس على الاقل عرفت انى عملت اللى عليا و بعدين ياااااا عااااااالم ما يمكن واحد من التمانين مليون تكون نيته كويسة حبتين و ربنا يكرمنا على ايده يعنى
I don't want to feel one day that I was part of the reasons why I didn't give my son or daughter a chance to live a better life. I don't want him/her to listen to the same talk we hear all their lives, and nothing happens.
Even if, nothing would happen, but at least I have to feel that I've done my part. And then won't 80 million people do something? and God would stand beside them?

Nesreen did a quick comparison between the Egyptian and Iranian elections saying:

حين كُنا نُتابع أنتفاضة المُعارضة الإيرانية التي لم تهدأ حتى اللحظة، كنت أتعجب من فرط حماسهم و أندفاعهم و ثقتهم في “حسين موسوي” و حقه في الفوز، و أتحسر على أنتخاباتنا العقيمة التي لم تترك في النفس ذكرى و لا في الوطن أثراً و لا في التاريخ حرفاً، و كأنها لم تحدث من الأصل

يتلاشى بعض العجب حين أعلم أن نسبة عدد الناخبين المسجلين في إيران مُختلف عليه إما 59.6 مليونا أو 57 مليونا من إجمالي عدد السكان البالغ نحو سبعين مليون

ليس هناك حتى داعٍ لوضع أرقام عدد الناخبين المسجلين في مصر و نسبته مقابل إجمالي عدد السكان

I was astonished, while following the Iranian opposition revolt, by their enthusiasm and faith in Mir Hossein Mousavi and his right to win; and I pity our elections that didn't leave a memory in our minds, or effect in our country, or a letter in history. As if it didn't happen.
Part of my astonishment faded away when I knew that there are either  59.6 million or 57 million registered voters out of their 70 million over all population.
I think there is no need to put the numbers of registered voters in Egypt compared to the over all population number.

Amr Ezz EL Deen stressed to his readers than time flies and the due date is coming near:

خلي بالك.. آخر ميعاد لاستخراج بطاقة انتخابية هو يوم 31 يناير 2010.. يعني فاضل شهر من دلوقتي.. شد حيلك وبلاش تكسل وتقول لسه بدري.. روح من دلوقتي وخد معاك اللي تقدر عليه من أصحابك وأهلك ومعارفك..
مصر تستاهل كل خير.. وجه دورنا عشان نغيرها بجد..
Beware that the due date to have your election card is the 31st of January 2010. Only one month left. So stop being lazy and don't say there is a lot of time. Go now, and take with you as much as you can from friends and acquaintances. Egypt deserves everything good. It's our turn now to change!

Ahmad Shokeir wrote an informative post, and concluded it saying:

مقولة ماذا سيفعل صوتي وأنا أعلم أنه سيتم تزويره أو إغفاله ، مقولة أصبحت سخيفة ومملة وعفا عليها الزمن ولاتصلح مع شعوب تريد أن تعيش حياة حرة … إذا تنازلت عن حقك في التصويت وتركت صوتك فلا تحزن عندما يعبث به آخر ويستخدمه كما يحلو له ، إفعلها ياسيدي وإذهب وإعطي صوتك وعندما تعطي صوتك وغيرك كذلك سيتغير الشكل وسيصعُب الوضع على المزوّرين>
The saying that “What will my vote do when I know it will be fraud or neglected?” became very silly and boring and doesn't count for nations which wish to live freely. If you don't ask for your right in voting, and gave up your voice.. then don't be sad when someone else plays with it and uses it the way they like. Just go and give your vote, and when you do, others will do too. This way the whole picture will be changed and will be difficult to be corrupted.

Other bloggers share similar posts like Mohamed [Ar], who is a medical student, Esraa [Ar], Self [Ar], Cema [Ar], Shams EL Deen [Ar] and Hisham [Ar]. Lamada [Ar] also wrote her memories with election fraud, yet asked people to be persistent and respond positively with the campaign.

The rest of contributing posts are updated around the clock here.

And the campaign's Facebook group can be found here.

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