Profile: Egyptian presidential frontrunner Mohamed Mursi
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – With reports that he is leading the polls in the Egyptian presidential election – whose votes are being counted today – and a shoe-in for one of the spots at an expected presidential run-off set to take place in June; Asharq Al-Awsat takes a look at Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Dr. Mohamed Mursi.
Mohamed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, is candidate no. 13 on the list of Egyptian presidential candidates, whilst his symbol is the scale. Mursi has found himself pushed to the forefront after initially being viewed as a “backup” candidate, after the Egyptian presidential election committee banned the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater from competing in the elections.
Dr. Mohamed Mursi was born in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate in northern Egypt in 1951. He was raised in a small village; his father was a farmer whilst his mother was a homemaker. Mursi obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Engineering from Cairo University, before obtaining a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Southern California. Mursi also served as a private in the Egyptian Armed Forces in the chemical warfare department of the 2nd Infantry Division between 1975 and 1976.
He first became ideologically affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood in 1977, officially joining the organization in late 1979. He has been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Political Bureau since its establishment in 1992, later joining the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau. Mursi headed the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc from 2000 until 2005, when he lost his seat.
Dr. Mohamed Mursi participated in the establishment of the Egyptian Movement for Change, also called the Kefaya Movement,, in 2004. In addition to this, he worked with former International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] director Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei in establishing the National Front for Change in 2010. Mursi was also involved in the establishment of the Democratic Alliance for Egypt – a coalition of over 40 political parties and movements – formed in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
During the rule of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Mursi was subject to extreme pressure by the Egyptian government. He was placed on trial several times, along with other Muslim Brotherhood leaders; whilst the Muslim Brotherhood organization in Egypt was officially outlawed. During the 2005 elections, he lost his parliamentary seat – running as an independent – to a candidate representing the now dissolved ruling National Democratic Party.
He was arrested in 2006 in front of the North Cairo district court for participating in a mass demonstration denouncing the referral of two judges, namely Mahmoud Makki and Hisham al-Bastawisi, to the qualifications committee for their stances against election-rigging during the 2005 parliamentary elections. He was released after seven months imprisonment and placed under house arrest.
Mursi was also arrested during the Egyptian revolution, being detained on the morning of the so-called “Day of Rage” on 28 January, 2011, along with 34 other senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders, in order to prevent them from participating in the protests. The Muslim Brotherhood figures were liberated from prison just two days later on 30 January by the Egyptian protesters, after the police withdrew from the streets.
On 30 April, 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council took the decision to nominate Mursi as leader of the Freedom and Justice Party. According to this resolution, Mursi resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau, but remains a member of the Shura Council, which is made up of some 110 senior Muslim Brotherhood figures.
Mursi led the Freedom and Justice party to a parliamentary election victory, winning 47 percent of all seats in Egypt’s lower house of parliament. He was also put forward as a presidential candidate to serve as an “alternative” to Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat al-Shater, however after al-Shater was excluded from the elections, Egypt’s Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood supporters have rallied around the Freedom and Justice party leader.
The Muslim Brotherhood has stressed that it has a vision to advance all sectors of Egypt, and that its presidential candidate, Mohamed Mursi, is capable of implementing this vision and securing the future of the country. However Mursi has faced criticism and even mockery from some sections of society, particularly for his role as a “backup” candidate for Khairat al-Shater. Mursi has strongly rejected such criticism, stressing that he views himself as a statesman rather than a sheikh, although many are extremely concerned about his pledge to implement Islamic Sharia law in Egypt. In fact it appears that having only one official candidate in the field has strengthened the Muslim Brotherhood’s position at the presidential elections, and on the day after the presidential elections the Muslim Brotherhood have claimed that Mursi is leading the polls. It is extremely unlikely that any single presidential candidate will win the required 50 percent of the vote to secure the presidency, and early indications are that Mursi will face off for the Egyptian presidency with either Dignity Party leader Hamdeen Sabbahi or former PM Ahmed Shafiq in a presidential run-off vote scheduled for next month.
Name: Mohamed Mohamed Mursi Issa al-Ayyat
Alias: Mohamed Mursi.
Date of birth: 8 August 1951
Place of birth: Al-Sharqiyah.
Family: Married with five children, and three grandchildren.
Academic qualification: B.Sc. and M.Sc. Engineering from Cairo University, Ph.D. Engineering from the University of Southern California.
Occupation: Leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood Group.
Electoral symbol and number: The scales, No. 13.
Campaign motto: Renaissance comes through the will of the people.
Principal features of his Political Manifesto:
- Implementing Islamic Sharia Law.
- Building a strong political system, restructuring the Egyptian state in depth, transforming it into a state of institutions which have specific powers that are respected and not transgressed.
- Speedy and comprehensive transformation of the economy.
- Establishing a society based on knowledge and production
- Implementing 100 national projects, each worth more than 1 billion dollars.
- Strengthening and enabling civil society and its institutions in order to secure democracy, and preserve popular vitality.
- Strengthening national security; bringing the security apparatus under control and restructuring the Police Authority to ensure that it is an institution whose sole duty is protecting internal security.