CAIRO, June 14, 2012 (AFP)
CAIRO, June 14, 2012 (AFP)
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi, who faces ex-premier Ahmed Shafiq in a presidential runoff, has pledged that Egypt under his leadership will be inclusive, courting secular and Christian voters.
A retiring individual, bearded and bespectacled, Mursi vows to uphold the goals of the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak and to share power with other parties.
Mursi, who became the Brotherhood’s candidate only after their first choice Khairat al-Shater was disqualified, topped the first round of elections last month with 24.7 percent of the vote against Shafiq’s 23.6 percent.
Many had written off Mursi as an uncharismatic substitute, saying he would be unable to muster widespread support.
But the powerful Islamist movement mobilised its formidable resources and supporters behind Mursi, who was appointed last year as the head of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.
During his final campaign speech, Mursi pledged an inclusive presidential institution that “includes all forces, presidential candidates, women, Salafis and our Coptic brothers.”
He pledged to end “discrimination against any Egyptian based on religion, ethnicity or gender.”
Mursi expressed confidence in winning the landmark poll, believing that Egyptians would not vote for a symbol of the old regime.
“Egyptians will never bring back Mubarak through the window after they kicked him out of the door,” he told reporters.
During his campaign, Mursi offered a fiery stump speech, pledging a presidency that would be based on Islam but would not be a theocracy.
Initially awkward, he appeared to gain confidence as his campaign proceeded, growing comfortable in his new role as a potential president, as he gave interviews and made speeches.
Mursi was born in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya and graduated with an engineering degree from Cairo University in 1975. He received a PhD from the University of Southern California, where he was an assistant professor, in 1982.
He was a member of an anti-Israel group, the Committee to Resist Zionism, but dedicated much of his time to the Muslim Brotherhood, which first fielded him in a parliamentary election in 2000.
In a 2005 election, which gave the Brotherhood one-fifth of the seats in parliament, he kept his seat. But he was soon arrested and jailed for seven months after participating in protests supporting reformist judges.
By the 2010 election, Mursi had become a spokesman for the Islamists and a member of their politburo.
He was jailed again on the morning of January 28, 2011, a day after the Muslim Brotherhood announced it would join the protests that would topple president Mubarak almost two weeks later.
Mursi, and other Brotherhood leaders arrested at the time, served only a few days before being sprung from jail during massive prison breaks across the country.
The Brotherhood believes in establishing an Islamic state gradually and through peaceful means, but Mursi’s focus has been mostly on issues affecting most Egyptians since the revolt, such as the deteriorating economy.
Mursi is married, with five children and three grandchildren.
Picture credit: Reuters