Controversial Egyptian lawyer says will run for president

Mortada Mansour announced his presidential bid on Sunday, becoming the country’s third candidate

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Mortada Mansour, a controversial Egyptian lawyer and harsh critic of activists who led Egypt’s 2011 uprising, announced his presidential bid on Sunday, becoming the country’s third candidate.

News of Mansour’s candidacy sparked a wave of reactions on whether the former judge and current head of Egypt’s Zamalek football club holds a real chance to win the elections, widely seen to be in favor of former army general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

"My program in brief is (to make) Egypt strong and recover its prestige and status in the world," Mansour told a press conference, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

Despite a generally-held belief that Sisi would win the upcoming elections, Mansour defended his chances of winning, saying he has supporters on the ground that would back him.

“At least I have millions of Zamalek fans backing me,” he told Al Arabiya News.

Mansour gave his Sunday conference appearance a religious flavor by calling for halt during prayer time.

Moreover, the presidential hopeful stated that if he wins he “will prohibit all what Allah has forbidden,” such as wine, and encourage an interest free Islamic economy.

Speaking to Al Arabiya News, he reiterated his plan to permit only what has been allowed by Islamic principles and refrain from what has been prohibited.

When asked if such restricting moves would interfere with peoples’ personal freedom or affect the country’s economy, Mansour stressed that above all a country should follow God’s will.

“I will not allow anything God has forbidden,” he told Al Arabiya News. “A country seeking prosperity should refrain from what God has prohibited.”

He said individuals can drink and wear what they want, but not in public.

“Those who want to drink wine can drink at their homes, they are free inside their houses, but outside they aren’t.”

Mansour has called for a suspension on protests, sit-ins and strikes for a whole year until Egypt is back on its feet economically and politically.

“We’ve been witnessing many protests in the three years of turmoil,” he told Al Arabiya News.

The presidential candidate went onto say he doesn’t think the halt on protests would affect his public support.

“My eyes are on the people’s benefits. I will not allow protests, strikes and sit-ins until the country recovers. We cannot be receiving aid from Gulf countries but not work.”

Since the 1990s, Mansour had been considered a controversial figure within Egyptian society, known for provocative public statements and a cascade of lawsuits throughout his career.

Mansour previously tried to run in the 2012 presidential election, but lost to now ousted President Mohammad Mursi.

He claims his candidacy was rejected by the electoral committee for unknown reasons.

Mansour is known among Egyptians by his alleged “CD’s” in which he occasionally uses to threaten rival public figures. He claims the CD-ROMs he possesses include crucial documents that could cause trouble if leaked.

In October 2012, Mansour was among 24 people acquitted of organizing the infamous "battle of the camel," a camel-borne assault on protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square during the 2011 revolt which ousted Husni Mubarak.

In remarks on his presidential bid, a number of political activists described Mansour’s move as a “political crime,” saying he has no chance to win whatsoever.

Mina Magdy, from Egypt’s Maspero Youth Coalition, told al-Dostour daily that “Mansour is a controversial figure and is an ex-con, and his candidacy is a political crime for Egyptians and presidency.”

Meanwhile, Amr Ezz, a member in the Nasserite-oriented Egyptian Popular Current, told the newspaper chances of Mansour are “non-existent.”

(additional reporting by AFP)

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