Sufi leaders to pick presidential favorite

Sufi leaders will convene Saturday to set standards for the selection a presidential candidate they will endorse, Sheikh Mohamed Alaa Eddin Abul Azayem, chairman of the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Tuesday.

Abul Azayem said Sufi leaders have agreed to commit to the majority’s selection to avoid splitting votes. He said extremist and secularist candidates as well as those linked to the regime of toppled President Hosni Mubarak will be automatically excluded.

He said they have already ruled out five presidential hopefuls based on the wishes of the sect’s members: Islamic preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, the Brotherhood's recently declared candidate Khairat al-Shater, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.

Essam Mohey, secretary general of the Sufi-oriented Egyptian Liberation Party, said his party has reached a consensus on backing Ghad al-Thawra Party Chairman Ayman Nour, disregarding the selection by the Sufi council and other Sufi political parties.

Mohey said the party has prepared a proposal of a presidential team with Nour and other candidates who would serve as deputies and advisers, and added that the list will be touted within the Sufi community.

Sufi Muslims are distinguished for mystical religious practices that the more conservative Salafis consider against Islamic teachings. After the January 2011 uprising forced Mubarak to resign, Sufis made their first foray into politics by establishing parties to counter the growing influence of Salafi groups that were also beginning to engage in the political arena.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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