Salafists rally for ex-Brotherhood presidential candidate Abul-Fotouh

Ahram Online, Saturday 19 May 2012

Salafist groups who have announced their endorsement of the renegade Muslim Brotherhood figure for president, instead of the official Brotherhood candidate, hold thousands-strong rallies Friday

Salafist leader Abdel-Moneim El-Shahat (Photo: Ahram)

Two major Salafist groups held rallies for presidential candidate and ex-Muslim Brotherhood figure, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, in the cities of Damanhour and Al-Wadi Al-Gedid Friday.

Damanhour rally
Salafist Al-Nour party, which officially endorses Abul-Fotouh, organised a rally in Damanhour, Beheira, in the highly populated Delta area, on Friday afternoon to promote their preferred candidate. Members of the liberal Al-Ghad party, Kefaya movement and a major Salafist umbrella group, the Salafist Call, participated in the rally.

"Abul-Fotouh is the best ship captain for the country at the present stage, because he represents national alignment, as well as having a firm, Islamic point of reference. Abul-Fotouh's interpretation of the Islamic sharia may differ from ours [Salafists], but his belief in the freedoms upheld by sharia has the Liberals favouring him," said Abdel-Moneim El-Shahat, official spokesman of the Salafist Call and hard-line Salafist preacher from the rally, attended by around 5000 Damanhour citizens.

Al-Wadi Al-Gedid rally
Salafist Al-Nour Party MPs and leaders of Al-Jamaa Al-Salafiya also held a rally in the governorate of Al-Wadi Al-Gedid (New Valley), a large, southwestern governorate with the largest Egyptian border with Libya and Sudan. The New Valley governorate has the third lowest population of all Egypt, since it is mostly Western Desert. Organisers announced it is the first of more rallies to be held in Al-Wadi Al-Gedid in support of Abul-Fotouh.

Salafist parties Al-Nour and Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party, as well as other ultra-conservative Salafist groups, the Salafist Call and Al-Jamaa Al-Salafiya have announced their official endorsement of Abul-Fotouh, the renegade ex-Muslim Brotherhood figure and moderate Islamist presidential candidate.

Al-Nour, the second majority holder in parliament, in conjunction with the more well-established Salafist groups, have chosen to endorse Abul-Fotouh and not the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi. Many surmise that whereas Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood had aligned at one moment in time, the Salafist choice to turn their back on Morsi and support a candidate that was expelled from the Brotherhood - Abul-Fotouh - signals a rift between the two Islamist groups.

Presidential elections will be held on 23/24 May. If no one candidate attains more than 50 per cent of the vote, runoffs will be conducted on 16/17 June.

Egypt's first post-Mubarak elected president will be named on 21 June.

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