CAIRO — After a lifetime of being told who will rule them, Egyptians dove enthusiastically into the uncertainty of the Arab world's first competitive presidential race Wednesday, wrestling with a polarizing choice between secularists rooted in Hosni Mubarak's old autocracy and Islamists hoping to infuse the state with religion.
Waiting in long lines, voters were palpably excited at the chance to decide their country's path in the vote, the fruit of last year's stunning popular revolt that overthew Mubarak after 29 years in power.
Still, the choices raised worries among many about whether real democracy will emerge. The final result, likely to come after a runoff next month, will only open a new chapter of political struggle.
Medhat Ibrahim, 58, who suffers from cancer, had tears in his eyes. “I might die in a matter of months, so I came for my children, so they can live,” he said, as he waited to vote in a poor Cairo district. “We want to live better, like human beings.”
He later came out flashing a finger stained with the blue ink used to prevent multiple voting. “Mubarak's policies gave me cancer,” he said, referring to the decline in health care. “Now I got my revenge.”
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