Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1194, (24-30 April 2014)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1194, (24-30 April 2014)

Ahram Weekly

When dreams come true

Presidential elections candidate Mortada Mansour has decided to withdraw from his electoral bid, writes Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

The newly-elected chairman of the Zamalek Sporting Club, Mortada Mansour, also a candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections, announced at a press conference on Saturday that he would not be running in the upcoming elections, scheduled for 26 and 27 May.

Mansour said it was a dream that had prompted him to make the decision. He viewed the dream as “a sign from God” that victory belonged to former army chief Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the frontrunner in the elections.

“I dreamed that I was on a bus heading to Fum Al-Khaleeg [a district in Old Cairo],” Mansour told the press conference. “Two army generals were sitting next to me… ‘We are going to Old Cairo, not Heliopolis,’ they said. I felt they in some way symbolised Al-Sisi.”

Mansour did not clarify why the dream was a sign leading him to step down, but he said he would be supporting Al-Sisi in the elections.

This is not the first time that Mansour has entered a presidential race. He had a go in 2012 as member of the Masr Al-Qawmi (Egypt National) Party, but the elections committee ruled him out.

Earlier in 2011, Mansour said he did not “have the right to run” for the presidency because he was “ill-tempered” on the Wahed Men Al-Nas (One of the People) TV programme.

“I say to Field-Marshal Al-Sisi, I personally support you,” he concluded.

According to Egypt’s new constitution, each candidate must secure at least 25,000 endorsements, with at least 1,000 coming from different governorates. Mansour retreated from his presidential candidacy less than a week after it had begun, claiming that his withdrawal was not related to his inability to collect the required endorsements.

While the dream was the main factor behind his withdrawal, he said, ironically it was also a dream of Al-Sisi’s that led the Field Marshal to run for the presidency. In a recording leaked last year, Al-Sisi said he had had a dream in which he had learned that it was his destiny to lead Egypt.

Mansour went on to slam presidential elections candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, currently the only other candidate running against Al-Sisi, by criticising his political stances, especially his calling for the cancellation of the protests law and for a reduction in activist Ahmed Doma’s prison sentence.

Mansour also accused Sabahi of having been affiliated with the regime of ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. “I won’t vote for someone claiming to be the revolution’s candidate who would put an end to the remnants of the Mubarak-era ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), when at the same time he has received LE4 million from NDP businessmen,” Mansour said.

Mansour was himself one of several figures from the era of Mubarak who were accused of orchestrating the “Battle of the Camel,” when pro-Mubarak thugs rode camels and horses into Tahrir Square on 2 February 2011, at the height of the revolution, and attacked protesters, killing 11 and injuring several hundreds.

Mansour and 24 other Mubarak-era figures, including the former speaker of the People’s Assembly Fathi Sorour, were acquitted of charges against them in 2012.

Mansour also hosted his own television programme on the Al-Faraeen satellite channel last year in which he slammed figures from the 25 January Revolution.

Ahmed Makhlouf, coordinator of Mansour’s presidential campaign, denied rumours saying that Mansour had bowed to pressure from Zamalek members, calling upon him to withdraw from the presidential race.

Mansour had earlier announced that in the light of pressure imposed by Zamalek Sporting Club members and staff he would pray for guidance and would disclose his decision on Saturday in a press conference

 The former judge was elected head of the Sporting Club for the third time on 28 March. He ran in four parliamentary elections in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2012, but only won a seat in the 2000 elections. In 2012, he lost to an opponent from the Muslim Brotherhood.

He has been a controversial figure for decades due to his taking on controversial lawsuits in his work as a lawyer. In December, he filed a lawsuit calling for the return of the security forces to university campuses after student protests ended in clashes with the security forces.

He is notorious for his divisive public statements and controversial disputes with high-profile media and political figures.

In his speech announcing his presidential bid last week, Mansour said he would ban social media Websites if they posed a threat to national security were he to be elected president.

“If I thought Twitter and Facebook could lead to the fall of the state, then yes [I would ban them],” he said during an interview on the privately-owned Al-Hayat TV channel.

In addition, he said he would end protests, sit-ins and strikes by suspending them for a year if he became president, in order to help the country get back on its feet on the economic and political levels. “There is no time for protests. Those who stage work stoppages will go to jail,” he said.

As for personal and religious freedoms, Mansour said in his speech last week that he was a supporter of the freedom to choose belief, but that this freedom should be restricted to the three Abrahamic faiths — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

“I do not accept having Bahaais or atheists in Egypt,” he said. “If you want to be an atheist, then do it somewhere else.”

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