By Mai Shams El-Din
CAIRO: Former deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Khairat Al-Shater submitted on Thursday the candidacy application for the presidential elections as thousands of supporters gathered to celebrate his candidacy in a scene similar to Salafi candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail’s application showdown a week earlier.
Al-Shater was accompanied by the group’s lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, a group of lawmakers representing the group’s political arm the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and members of his family.
“The entire family is here to show support to Al-Shater. We are trying to support him psychologically and physically to achieve his project,” Al-Shater’s daughter Hafsa and her husband told Daily News Egypt Thursday.
“After the Muslim Brotherhood declared support for him, the family has nothing to do but to offer help and support to him and his renaissance project,” Hafsa’s husband Mostafa Hassan said.
Upon the announcement of Al-Shater’s nomination last Saturday, family members posted numerous statements on their Facebook and Twitter accounts that implied they were not happy with the decision. They said their statements were taken out of context.
On Thursday, Brotherhood members who came to support Al-Shater, mostly youth from across the country, criticized what they called the media bias against the group, urging journalists to present the “real image” of the most dominant Islamist movement that controls almost half of the parliament seats.
Analysts agree that Al-Shater’s nomination will split the Islamist vote, but they were also baffled by the timing and the numerous repercussions of the announcement. Despite the various scenarios and theories, the competition between Al-Shater and the ultraconservative Abu Ismail is evident to all observers, especially with rumors endangering the latter’s qualification.
The youth who crowded outside the Presidential Election Committee office in Heliopolis were comparing their numbers with the thousands who marched and formed human chains from Dokki to the eastside district last Friday as Abu Ismail filed his candidacy application.
The youth chanted “They called us defectors, then who are we? We are the Muslim Brotherhood,” referring to media reports about internal rifts within the group following last Saturday’s announcement.
Until this week, the group had stuck to its promise not to contest the presidential race. Presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh was expelled last year for going against the group’s decision. Members who supported him were expelled.
A press conference was scheduled to take place right after Al-Shater’s submission of the application, but it was cancelled due to the huge crowds of supporters.
“I thank everyone who came to support me for my presidency bid in front of the [PEC] today,” Al-Shater said on his official Facebook page, apologizing to the media for not talking to the present reporters.
“I promise to communicate with journalists soon,” he added.
Al-Shater filed his application accompanied with the endorsements of 30 MPs. The law stipulates the endorsement of a party, 30 MPs or 30,000 citizens.
“For the sake of Egypt and for the sake of the revolution we decided to nominate Al-Shater,” FJP MP Saad El-Hosseiny told reporters Thursday. El-Hosseiny heads the budget and planning committee at the People’s Assembly.
Banner reads, “Mansoura University Students support the nomination of Engineer Khairat Al-Shater as president of Egypt.” (Daily News Egypt Photo/Hassan Ibrahim)