An Egyptian court has approved a hardline Muslim candidate to run in the May Presidential election after it was ruled his mother was not a US citizen. The Salafi politician’s ultra-conservative stance has raised doubts that the elections will achieve the
50-year-old lawyer, Hazem Abu Ismail enjoys significant support particularly among Egypt’s conservative Salafi contingent.
He had previously been disqualified from the presidential race after reports that his mother had received US citizenship. According to the country’s law the parents and wives of all candidates must only have Egyptian citizenship.
The court said on Wednesday that it did not have enough evidence to prove that Abu Ismail’s mother was an American citizen.
Thousands of his supporters had gathered outside the court in Cairo and greeted the ruling with cheers of “God is great!” and “Here is the President!”
Abu Ismail is a Salafist and as such is an advocate of a strict interpretation of the Islamic faith. He will be up against other more moderate candidates like the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat el-Shater and former regime politicians such as former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa.
If he wins the election he says he will implement Sharia law forcing women to cover their heads in public. Although he accepts that women have to work out of economic necessity he emphasizes that “women must not be obliged to work outside the home.”
Between a rock and a hard place
Egypt’s electoral commission is expected to announce the final list of presidential candidates on April 26.
The country’s twelve presidential hopefuls essentially fall into three categories: The revolutionary-minded liberals, ex-regime political figures and the conservative Muslim parties.
According to a poll carried out by state newspaper Al Ahram the current frontrunner is Amr Moussa who served as Foreign Minister under ousted President Mubarak with 30 percent support. While Hazem Abu Ismail occupies second place with the Brotherhood’s representative Khairat el-Shater bringing up the rear with a mere 1.7 percent approval.
The Muslim Brotherhood currently has the majority of seats in the Egyptian parliament and previously said it would not put forward a presidential candidate, not seeking to dominate the new Egypt.
The presence of ex-regime politicians and hardline Muslim candidates in the running has put into question whether the freedom and social justice the revolution sought to achieve will become a reality.
“Today, the revolution is in its transitional period, and it’s not clear whether it will reach its final destination. Its’ goals of freedom, social justice aren’t reached yet,” said lawyer and labour activist Khaled Ali to RT.
The Muslim Brotherhood sent party members to Washington last week in an effort to convince the West that Sharia law is not synonymous with a return to the dark ages. However, there is still widespread skepticism over the sincerity of their campaign.
Dr. Said Sakek a professor from the American University in Cairo emphasized that the brotherhood is an “ideological, totalitarian organization.”
“Imagine the communist party wins in America and says we will not post communism, we respect capitalism. Who’d believe such a thing? They may say something like that, but tactically. But in time, when they become powerful, they will follow their program,” he told RT.