This former Muslim Brother leader has real chances to win. He is surprisingly supported by islamists and liberals alike.
Many pro-revolution voters think he is the smartest pick, since, among the candidates who have real chances to be elected, he is the only one to be neither a “felool” (“remnant” of Mubarak regime), like Amr Moussa, nor a really conservative islamist, like Morsi.
Even before starting campaigning, he held liberal views. For example, he said women or Copts should be able to be elected president of the State. He wants to separate “men of religion” from politics, although he stops short from calling for complete separation of religion from State. Some people say that “confronting Sadat in the late 1970s (as a result he was imprisoned), conspiring against Mubarak in the late 1990s (as a result spent six years in jail) and defying the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011 (as a result was fired from the group) reflect an independent streak “.
Now, he advocates a strong presidential system for Egypt, at least until a variety of strong political parties can be established.
He portrays himself as the best candidate to bridge the gap between secular liberals and Islamists.
As a leader in the militant Islamist student movements of the 1970s, he confronted Sadat in a famous a televised debate about the former president’s crackdown on popular politics and Islamists. He was one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s point men for aiding the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
He was arrested and imprisoned on and off through the 1980s and 1990s.
In the televised (historical, a first in Egypt) debate with Amr Moussa, the other frontrunner, he got asked about this period of his life. Moussa asked him about his involvement as a founder of the Gamaa Islamiya, a group that was responsible for the deaths of tens of Egyptians. Aboul-Futoh said he was proud of forming the Islamic movement in the seventies, which was a peaceful movement that did not shed blood. If some left and committed violence, they didn’t truly belong to the Islamic movement.
Aboul Fotouh then was part of the Guidance Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood from 1987 to 2009, when he got expelled, probably for his liberal views. Then he was even suspended from the group in May 2011 after announcing his intention to run for president. Some people argue that he disagreed with the Brotherhood was not due to ideological differences but to his aspirations to become Egypt’s president.
He is also the Secretary-General of the Arab Medical Union. He is a doctor and born in 1951.