An international law professor at the American University in Cairo, an Islamist thinker and a veteran diplomat, Abdullah El-Ashaal is a longtime staunch critic of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Born in 1945 in Harbit Village in Sharqiya Governorate in the eastern Nile Delta, El-Ashaal held several high-profile diplomatic posts, including ambassador to Burundi and deputy foreign minister.
El-Ashaal earned PhDs and academic certificates from Egyptian and overseas universities in the fields of political science and international law; and has written dozens of books published in many languages.
In 2010, a year before the January 25 Revolution, El-Ashaal announced his desire to run for the presidency. At the time, however, he was believed to be simply trying to blow the whistle on Article 76 of the 1971 constitution, which was seen at the time by critics as paving the way for Mubarak’s son Gamal to run for president without competition from other candidates.
El-Ashaal was also deeply critical of Mubarak’s foreign policy, especially Egypt’s relations with Israel, which he argued had an abysmal effect on the Palestinian cause.
He stresses that, should he win, Israel would have to realise that Mubarak’s regime would never be resurrected.
After the January 25 Revolution, El-Ashaal announced the foundation of the Free Egypt Party and reiterated his intention to run for president. He decided to step aside in support of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Khairat El-Shater, but backtracked on his decision when El-Shater was disqualified from the presidential race for legal reasons in April 2012.
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