Egyptian Presidential Hopeful Promises Islamic, Inclusive Future

Egyptian presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, at his home in the Delta Village, Edwa, April 23, 2012
Egyptian presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, at his home in the Delta Village, Edwa, April 23, 2012

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, is among the leading contenders to become the nation's first post-revolution president.

Morsi wasn't the first choice for president of the Islamist group, Muslim Brotherhood. But with its lead candidate disqualified, Morsi has grasped his role as an accidental front-runner with gusto.

Whether working a crowd, or a roomful of politicians, the head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party plays to his audience with seasoned awareness.

To the students at Zagizig University, Morsi encourages questioning and activism. He says even after the election of a new president, even if he's elected, he wants the revolution to continue.  

To supporters in his home village of Edwa, the U.S.-educated engineer stresses his humble, country roots.

He connects with the crowd by pointing out “we weren't born with a gold spoon in our mouths.”  His father, he recalls, toiled and sweated, and would take him to school on the back of donkey. 

The rise of Islmist influence

And wherever he speaks, Morsi makes clear Egypt will be transformed - politically, economically and socially through the principles of Islam.  It is balm for many of the faithful, who relied on the once-banned Brotherhood during the hardships of the old government.

Mohamed Morsi deserves the presidency, supporter Hannan Zakaria says, explaining that, before, she felt she lived in exile.  Now, under him, she says she is living in Egypt.  

This vision of a new Egypt is deeply religious and, often, deeply suspicious of all things foreign - a point Morsi jokingly acknowledges at his home in Edwa.

“This is the origin of the Egyptians, in Delta Nile," he said. "So it's better to talk Arabic. If they hear me they may get angry. You understand the situation, of course.”

Living in 'harmony'

The rise of a nativist, Islamist influence has alarmed some Egyptians - including the nation's minority Coptic Christians.  Morsi's wife, Nagla Ali, insists the two groups can live in harmony.

She says “there are no problems between Muslims and Christians, especially with true Muslims, those enlightened by the true principles of Islam.”

But religious problems may pale next to practical concerns. Morsi's message and credentials are strong - the former opposition legislator was arrested during last year's uprising.  But he carries the burden of the Brotherhood's promise to limit its role in politics. 

Voter Sayed Hosni faults the group for initially promising not to field a presidential candidate.  He calls on the Brotherhood to keep its word.  

Morsi's party already dominates parliament, and that too has put off some, who argue it has done little to improve the lives of average Egyptians.   

Voter Magdi says the economy is at a standstill. He points to his cheap clothing and the bad transportation he endures.  “You want us to elect Morsi and those like him,” he asks.  

The era of accountability has begun for Egypt's best-organized movement.  It's now up to Morsi to bridge the past and the future in what is likely to be Egypt's first, truly contested presidential election.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mike
April 26, 2012 3:54 PM
The Brotherhood probably does not have a copy of the 'Bill of Rights' hanging on their office wall. Their root principals are contrary to those rights, and that is was is so disappointing to many of us. All of the rights we have come to expect in modern cultures will be modified to be consistent with the Brotherhood's wisdom. In other words, one dictatorship gets replaced with another. It appears to me that Spring has become Winter.

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