Salafis likely to support Abu Ismail, Awa or Abouel Fotouh for president, leader says

The Salafi movement will likely support Islamists Hazem Abu Ismail, Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh or Mohamed Selim al-Awa for president in the upcoming elections, a party leader told Shabab magazine. 

The movement will make a final decision on which candidate it will back after the nomination process ends in April, movement spokesperson Abdel Moneim al-Shahhat said in an interview with the magazine, which is published by state-owned Al-Ahram.

“We are now examining the platforms of candidates and the one we will most likely support is the one with an Islamist background who satisfies certain conditions. If other candidates announce their nomination in the coming period, we will study their platforms and choose the best,” said the former Nour Party leader.

Asked about the potential of Salafis joining the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood to throw their weight behind one candidate, he said the two groups would meet to discuss potential candidates, adding that they are weighing the pros and cons of each. 

The application process for would-be candidates is scheduled to begin Saturday.

Awa, a lawyer who has written a book on the concept of Islam and governance, is expected to submit his nomination.

Abouel Fotouh, a longtime liberal within the Muslim Brotherhood who has gained support among the pro-revolution crowd, was expelled from the group when he declared his intention to run for president against its orders.

Abu Ismail draws his core support from ultraconservative Salafis, whose Nour Party forms the second-largest bloc in Parliament after the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and its coalition.

London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat quoted Shahhat as saying Islamists are seeking the nomination of Hossam al-Ghiryany, head of the Supreme Judicial Council, or Tareq al-Bishry, former vice president of the State Council, for president.

Ghiryany, founder of the Independence Wave, a group for judicial independence that emerged in 2005, organized several protests for Egyptian judges at the time.

Bishry is an author and intellectual with moderate Islamist orientations who enjoys the respect of Egyptians from across the spectrum.

Mahmoud Ghozlan, official spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood, said it is still too early for the group to say who its supports for the presidency, according to the paper.

Ghozlan said the Brotherhood is trying to persuade some figures to run for the presidency.

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