Deep in the underground of Cairo’s metro train systems, Egyptian commuters can be heard engaged in heated political debates on a host of issues that may not have been possible when Hosni Mubarak was in power.
Here, one can find Egyptians talking about the situation post the January 25 revolution and how it has not improved or only resulted in the deaths of 800 people. The subway carriages have become a forum for passengers to speak their minds or vent and express their anger.
Mohammed Roshdi, aged 23, a passenger immediately started a conversation the moment he entered the carriage on Sunday. He and his fellow passengers spoke in low voices as they debated the position of the Muslim Brotherhood in the nation’s politics.
It was only moments later that their debate heated up and their voices grew louder, drowning the subway noise out.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which holds almost half of Egypt’s parliamentary seats, decided to put forward a candidate for the presidency on Sunday, having vowed never to nominate a member for the top spot.
Some passengers believe the Muslim Brotherhood plans to instigate an Islamic and autocratic form of government; others argue otherwise.
“People give vent to their daily concerns, it is normal; Egyptians are used to doing this. People are under pressure, because of the social and political problems. People are suffering from 50-years of oppression,” said journalist Abdel Moez al-Shaer.
Around four million passengers are estimated to take the Cairo metro system every day.
“Everyone has certain thoughts and opinions, everyone is biased in favor of a specific side. One person supports the Muslim Brotherhood, another supports the liberals, while someone else wants the secularists,” said Egyptian commuter Mahmoud Gamal.
Egypt is set to hold its first free presidential election in six decades this June, amidst an ongoing stand-off between Islamic groups and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
As presidential elections approach, debates continue to grow in Cairo’s underground.