Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail returns to join Friday prayers in Tahrir

Ahram Online, Monday 7 May 2012

Following a long absence from public view, former Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail is to join mass prayers in Tahrir Square Friday; campaign manager condemns attack on protesters in Abbasiya

Hazem Salah Abou Ismail
Former presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail

Disqualified Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail has called on all Egyptians to converge in Tahrir Square on Friday for mass prayers.

"If God wills and if my health allows it, I am expected to be in the square and I will join them in their prayers," stated Abu-Ismail on Sunday.

This announcement comes after what some Egyptians criticised as his long absence from public life following his elimination from the presidential race on decision of the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC) on 17 April.

Abu-Ismail has been forbidden from appearing on Egyptian state television, according to his campaign. Abu-Ismail's campaign accused SPEC of standing in the way of his appearance. The presidential elections body denied the claims.     

His disqualification, which was the spark lighting the sit-in at the Ministry of Defence in Abbasiya that escalated into bloody clashes that have resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen protesters and the injury of hundreds, led many to criticise Abu-Ismail's absence from the crisis his supporters created.

In a related incident, the head of the "Must Be Hazem" campaign, Sheikh Gamal Saber, announced that "Even if Hazem's sons have wronged, there is no justification for their killings," referring to the Abbasiya protesters.

Further commenting on Abu-Ismail's absence, Saber stressed, "Sheikh Hazem does not lie; his illness is the real reason for his apparent absence."

Saber criticised the media's role in covering the Abbasiya clashes and pinning the blame on Abu-Ismail supporters for having sparked the clashes.

"The tone that is being used against the Salafists is unacceptable by society because Islamists are a major force in our society and there is no reason why there should not be any interaction with them," he said.

Saber also made sure to point out the need to continue the struggle against SPEC and to amend Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration of March 2011 that affords the body supreme authority in any decision it makes.

Article 28 has been the main point of contention for Abu-Ismail supporters against the SPEC, pushing them to stage a sit-in in Tahrir Square on 20 April before moving to the Ministry of Defence near Abbasiya.   

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