- Middle East/North Africa
“The Muslim Brotherhood is the old [Hosni Mubarak] regime,” said presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq in a press conference held Sunday in a luxurious hotel in Cairo's Fifth Settlement.
“With the 2005 elections, the Brotherhood made deals with the old regime allowing them 88 seats in Parliament,” he added.
In his fiery statement, Shafiq mainly had negative things to say about his opponent, Mohamed Morsy, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, who will oppose him in the runoff election slated for 16 and 17 June.
Shafiq started by directing his speech toward expatriate voters, who began casting their ballots for round two yesterday. He urged them to pursue their constitutional right to vote.
“Choose a country with Cairo as its capital,” Shafiq said, “not in Palestine.” His charge implied that the Egyptian state is not a priority for Islamists.
He went on to say: “Some people want Palestine to be our capital. The Palestinian cause is in our hearts but our capital will remain Cairo and from our capital we will strive to help Palestine become an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
“Choose me as I defend Egyptian security; defending Sinai which others will let slip from our hands,” he repeated several times.“Defend the Suez Canal, which others want to give to foreigners.”
Commenting directly on his election adversary, he said: “My history is a clear one which everyone knows about, while my opponent has a vague history not many people know about.”
Shafiq spoke of his position on Saturday’s life sentence verdict for ousted President Hosni Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, and the innocence of six top security officials, saying: “There is no reason to use this issue for election purposes,” subtly accusing the Brotherhood's electoral machine of abusing the verdict to its benefit.
He then stated his acceptance of the decision and reiterated his promise to ensure the martyrs of the revolution get their rights, “as opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, who asked them to accept the compensation and let go of their rights.
“The days of political imprisonment are gone,” he said. “Rest assured your sons and daughters are safe enough to express their opinions, even if theirs oppose mine.”
He then thanked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for discontinuing the state of emergency, which ended last week.
He also declared that he has asked his lawyer to drop the case against those suspected of setting his Dokki headquarters on fire last week. He said his headquarters in Nasr City, Beheira, Fayoum and Beni Suef were also attacked, and thanked police for their efforts in protecting his and Morsy’s headquarters.
Prominent activists Alaa Abd El Fattah and Mona Seif were interrogated for their involvement in the attack on Saturday.
Shafiq also addressed the Coptic community, saying: “The Brotherhood accuses our Coptic brothers of treason and tries to stop them from practicing their given right to vote. How do you expect them to believe you when you speak kindly to them in press conferences and threaten them in their homes and stores?”
Many Christians voted for Shafiq in the first round of the election, a decision that many revolutionary forces have held against them.
In the final minutes of his speech, Shafiq targeted specific groups like farmers and taxi drivers. He promised to relieve farmers of their debts and ensure their crop returns are fair and balanced.
“For the first time I say this: We shall cancel all the white taxis’ debts,” he promised.
“I am sure that as soon as I am elected all international investments that are halted now will return,” he assured voters. “Housing investments, agricultural investments, industrial investments and tourism will return to as they were, and better,” he said, targeting an issue that could bring him a substantial amount of votes.
“The production cycle will return, something the Brotherhood doesn’t show interest in as much as it puts effort into protesting and spreading lies and rumors,” Shafiq said.
Shortly before wrapping up, Shafiq bashed the Brotherhood again, reminding the group of its earlier promise not to field a candidate in the presidential election.
Shafiq started and ended his speech with the same verse from the Quran: “Act for God, and his Prophet, and the believers will see your actions.”