Global media is widely reporting on the televised Egyptian presidential debate held on Thursday and which involved leading candidates Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, supported by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and former Arab League head Amr Moussa. According a report by the Israeli newspaper Ynet, both candidates pledged to review Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel:
05.11.12, 08:18 Egyptian presidential hopefuls Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh traded barbs about their past in a debate that captured the historic moment facing a nation preparing for its first real election for head of state. Viewers tuned in across the Arab world for a spectacle unthinkable before Hosni Mubarak was swept from power by a mass uprising 15 months ago. The election gets under way in two weeks, the climax of an army-led transition to civilian rule. One a veteran diplomat who once served as Mubarak’s foreign minister and the other an Islamist who was jailed by his administration, Abol Fotouh and Moussa have emerged as two of the leading contenders to replace the deposed president. Facing off for more than four hours in a show broadcast on two privately owned television networks, Moussa and Abol Fotouh sought to trip each other up on questions ranging from their perspective on Islamic sharia law to their views on Israel. They repeatedly accused each other of distorting the facts. A former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abol Fotouh portrayed Moussa as a member of the Mubarak government that had corrupted Egypt. ‘There is a rule that says the that one who created the problem cannot solve it,’ said the 60-year old. Moussa, who was head of the Arab League at the time of the uprising, defended his record as Egypt’s foreign minister but added that he had left the post in 2001. ‘The regime that fell, fell with Moussa outside of it,’ said the 75-year old. ‘I say, you too were silent. You used to defend the positions of the Muslim Brotherhood and not Egyptian interests.’ Egyptians are due to vote on May 23 and 24 in the first round of the election that is expected to go to a June run-off between the top two candidates from the field of 13. The first real presidential election in this country of more than 80 million people is being watched across the region as a measure of change brought by last year’s historic uprisings across the Middle East.
Read the rest here.
The GMBDW had already noted last year that Abol-Fotouh was being supported by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, also often described as a moderate, which should have been cause enough to be suspicious of his description as a moderate. Shortly following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he accused the U.S of plan to “enslave the Arab nation”:
‘This war is not a crusade, but Islam is definitely a target, not as a religion, but as a strong catalyst for resistance and struggle,’ said Abdel-Moneim Abul- Fotouh, a leading member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and deputy secretary-general of the Arab Doctors’ Federation. ‘Islam is perceived as the strongest obstacle to US plans to enslave the Arab nation,’ he added.
In 2006, he continued along the same lines advising support for “a Hezbollah-Iranian agenda than an ”American-Zionist” one”:
Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a member of its guidance office, said that the United States had invaded Iraq to divide Muslims and that it was better to support a Hezbollah-Iranian agenda than an ”American-Zionist” one. ”Which one is more dangerous to the Muslim world?” he said in an interview, before attacking ”the regimes who tremble before Iran. They are weak and tattered regimes who don’t acknowledge the will of their people.” When pressed, though, a vague ambivalence emerges. ”Iran would be at the end of our list of enemies, even though it’s not an enemy,” he said. ”Let’s combat the American danger on the region before we ‘compete’ with Iran.”
In October 2006, U.S. media reported that Abul-Fotouh was one of two Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders denied U.S. visas to speak an a conference at NYU: (See Note below)
Two Egyptian-born Islamic leaders, scheduled to speak yesterday at a New York University Law School forum on the controversial Muslim Brotherhood, were not granted visas, according to the Department of Homeland Security and the panel organizer. Kamal Helbawy, 80, the founder of the Muslim Association of Britain, was forced to leave an American Airlines jet bound for New York on Wednesday, minutes before it was to depart Heathrow Airport in London. A DHS spokeswoman said Helbawy was “inadmissible” but would not elaborate. Helbawy was to replace Abdel Monem Abul ElFotouh, 56, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood who had been announced as a speaker at the NYU conference two weeks ago but never received his visa in Egypt….ElFotouh is believed to have led a radical resurgence of the group in the 1970s, although today he is regarded by many watchdogs as a moderate. He was also among 62 group leaders sentenced to five years in prison in Egypt in 1995 for their alleged role in a failed coup.
(Note: “NYU IN ISLAM FUROR – NO VISAS FOR SPEAKERS” The New York Post October 20, 2006)
Eric Trager, writing in the New Republic, posted an excellent analysis on both the extremist positions of Abol Fotouh as well as the incessant description of him as “moderate” by leading U.S. media.