Jailed Muslim Brotherhood leader seeks Egypt presidency
A jailed leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood will challenge Egyptian Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the upcoming September election, his lawyer said Saturday, but the powerful Islamist group said it had not endorsed the challenger.
Essam el-Erian, in his 50s, and three other leaders of the banned Islamist group were arrested with 200 others Friday during nationwide protests for political reform.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which calls for implementation of Islamic law in Egypt, was set up in 1928 and banned since 1954. It renounced violence in the 1970s, and the state tolerates some of it activities but has frequently imprisoned its leaders. Fifteen Brotherhood members have seats in parliament, elected as independents and forming the largest opposition bloc.
As it has thrown its weight in protests alongside more secular reform movements, the Brotherhood has sought to emphasize its nationalist credentials.
"El-Erian told his interrogators that he will stand as a candidate in the presidential election," said his lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqssoud, who was present while state security officers questioned the detained leader.
Deputy Brotherhood leader Mohammed Seyed Habib confirmed that el-Erian had announced his intentions, but he denied the group had nominated a presidential candidate.
"We haven't decided yet if we will have a candidate," said Habib, who added that el-Erian, a doctor, had announced his candidacy without consulting with the group's leadership. "That was perhaps a personal decision."
If el-Erian does indeed challenge Mubarak, he would have to do so as an independent since the Brotherhood has been outlawed as a political party since 1954.
El-Erian spent five years in jail during the 1990s after being charged with belonging to a banned group trying to change the regime in Egypt to an Islamic state.