Lawyer Mortada Mansour says he will run for Egypt's presidency

Ahram Online , Sunday 6 Apr 2014

Former lawyer says his campaign involves jailing striking workers, bringing stability, amending Camp David accords, standing up to Qatar and allowing atheists to practice beliefs in the 'bathroom' only

Mortada Mansour
Egyptian presidential candidate hopeful and lawyer Mortada Mansour (Photo: Reuters)

Outspoken and controversial lawyer Mortada Mansour announced on Sunday that he would run in Egypt's upcoming presidential elections, becoming the third candidate after former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and leftist political figure Hamdeen Sabahi.

In a press conference held to announce his candidacy, Mansour said he was running in order to restore "order" to Egypt.

"Egypt is currently in a dark tunnel, we need to restore the state of order and law," he said.

Concerning his electoral program, Mansour promised to end all strikes and protests in the country.

"There is no time for protests and for people to close factories for a whole year. Those people belong in jail," he said.

In addition to three years of political turmoil, Egypt has also seen widespread strikes from public sector employees in recent months.

The lawyer also called for the country's constitution to be amended:

"The constitution turned the president from a dictator to a weak figure that shares power with the prime minister. The president should have full powers."

Mansour also said he would want the Camp David accords with Israel to be amended as well.

"Already Israel should respect itself and stop sending us drugs and spies," he said, referring to recent allegations of Egyptians gathering information on national security for Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, as well as claims of drug trafficking between Egypt and Israel.

"The army should be fully deployed in Sinai without any restrictions," he said. According to the Camp David accords, Egypt's army can only be deployed in certain areas of the Sinai Peninsula.

Despite expressing his full respect to the people of Qatar, the candidate attacked the Qatari royal family and the Doha-based Al-Jazeera news network, both of whom he accused of attempting to destroy Egypt.

"It is unacceptable that a country the size of a lion, like Egypt, be threatened by a country the size of an ant, like Qatar," he said.

Mansour – whose son Amir is married to a relative of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – also took aim at Libya's 2011 uprising, which he said was "not a revolution."

He blamed Qatar's royal family for Libya's current unrest – "Egyptians, whether Muslims or Christians, being slaughtered, the Libyan prime minister being kidnapped," he said.

Mansour was one of several figures from the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak who was accused of orchestrating the Battle of the Camel, when pro-Mubarak thugs rode camels and horses into Tahrir Square on 2 February, at the height of the 2011 revolution, and attacked protesters, killing 11 and injuring several hundred.

He and 24 other Mubarak-era figures were acquitted in 2012 on charges of inciting the violence.

In his speech on Sunday, Mansour made it clear that although Mubarak's era was full of corruption, he still felt the former air force commander was a "hero" for his role in the 1973 war against Israel.

As for personal and religious freedoms, Mansour said he was a supporter of freedom in choosing beliefs, but only those in the three Abrahamic faiths – Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

"I do not accept having Baha'is or atheists in Egypt," he said. "If you want to be an atheist, then do it in your bathroom."

Similarly, he said that although he believed in freedom of expression in the arts, he was in favour of strict censorship on films and other art forms to prevent thuggery and sexual harassment in society.

The former lawyer once sued prominent Egyptian filmmaker Raafat El-Mihi for allegedly insulting the country's judiciary in his 1984 black comedy Al-Avokato (The Attorney).

Mansour – who was elected head of the Zamalek sports club for the third time on 28 March – has been a controversial figure in Egyptian society since the 1990s, with a resume full of controversial lawsuits as well as public statements.

He hosted his own television program on Al-Fareen sattelite channel where he slammed many figures of the January 25 revolution. The channel was closed shortly after, only to resume again. 

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