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Abu-Ismail, El-Shater supporters stress unity, downplay differences

Partisans of Salafist, Brotherhood presidential contenders make rare display of unity following reports of friction between rival Islamist camps

Ahram Online, Wednesday 11 Apr 2012
Hazem Abu Ismail
Supporters of Egyptian Salafi presidential candidate, Hazem Abu Ismail (Photo: AP)
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In an effort to downplay any friction between Islamist presidential frontrunners Hazem Abu-Ismail and Khairat El-Shater, supporters of the two men on Wednesday repeated the chant "Hazem and Khairat are one hand" at a rally in front of Egypt's State Council.

The move followed news reports – which were later denied by El-Shater's campaign – that clashes had erupted between the two candidates' supporters at El-Shater's first presidential campaign rally at Cairo's Al-Azhar University on Tuesday.

Supporters of El-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, and those of Abu-Ismail, the Salafist candidate, converged on Wednesday in front of Egypt's State Council, which was expected to issue a verdict in a court case filed by the latter.

The Salafist presidential hopeful has demanded that Egypt's interior ministry produce evidence that his mother had held US citizenship before her death. Egypt's interior and foreign ministries, along with the US State Department, have claimed that Abu-Ismail's late mother had acquired US citizenship in 2006.

If the allegations are proven, Abu-Ismail would be disqualified from Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential contest, slated for next month. According to the rules governing presidential elections, Egyptians are barred from entering the race if they – or their parents – hold foreign citizenship.

Last week, thousands of Abu-Ismail supporters staged demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square and in front of the State Council building in support of the Salafist preacher's presidential candidacy.

El-Shater campaigners, for their part, denied that any clashes had taken place at Tuesday's rally, despite attempts by those they described as "state security agents" to instigate violence.


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