Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi won the presidency in Egypt, beating opponent Ahmed Shafik in the country's closely watched election. Shafik was the last prime minister to have served under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Officials were prepared for violent protests if Shafik won, threatening to use deadly force against anyone attacking government buildings. While these were Egypt's first democratic elections, citizens were concerned that a win for Shafik would mean a regression to politics as usual before the anti-Mubarak revolution.

Morsi's win inspired mass celebrations in Tahrir Square, where the protests against Mubarak took place. While the Council on Foreign Relations' Isobel Coleman says that Morsi "openly endorses a strict Islamic vision," the new President was quick to stress Egypt's democratic choice over his religious convictions.

There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy. There is democracy only. ... The people are the source of authority.

This month, Egypt's constitutional court dissolved the lower house of parliament and transfered authority to the military council, leading many to question how much authority President Morsi will actually have.

Still, reformers see Morsi's win as a significant and essential step in the right direction. Menofiya University law professor Mohamed Mahsoob tweeted—

The revolution will succeed, even if the newly elected president is below expectations because we will have the right to change him. But the revolution will not succeed if we have a president from the old regime that we toppled because he will working on seizing it back (and) reversing the accomplishments.

In the wake of Shafik's defeat, Egypt has avoided immediate riots and lengthier protests. The Muslim Brotherhood had promised to stage an open-ended sit-in at Tahrir Square if the results of the election had not gone in their favor.

[Image via AP]