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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 07:28 AM


Ex-Brotherhood moderate pins presidential hopes on drawing both religious, liberal vote

Article by: AYA BATRAWY , Associated Press
Updated: April 13, 2012 - 2:10 AM

CAIRO - It was a simple gesture: About a decade ago, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, took a pen as a present to Egypt's most famous novelist and Nobel laureate on his 92nd birthday.

It was also a gesture of defiance. The Brotherhood shunned the late novelist Naguib Mahfouz, whose secular writings were considered blasphemous by hard-liners. The move fueled Abolfotoh's reputation as a moderate reformer in a fundamentalist group that opponents fear aims to create religious rule in Egypt.

Now Abolfotoh, who was thrown out of the Brotherhood last year, is banking on that reputation as he runs to become Egypt's president. He is angling to be one of the few candidates with crossover appeal for both religious conservatives and liberals.

His hope is that there is a middle ground in a deeply divided race. On one side are Islamists, particularly Khairat el-Shater, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, who can draw from the large religious vote. On the other are figures from the former regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, symbolized by former intelligence chief and vice president Omar Suleiman. They are looking for support from Egyptians worried over rising Islamist power.


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