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It takes a courageous woman to run for president in Egypt: first female hopeful

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Egyptian activist and presidential hopeful Bothaina Kamel said it takes a lot of courage for a woman to decide to run for Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential elections.

“I guess that is why I am the only woman who decided to go through this experience,” she told Al Arabiya’s Noqtat Nezam (Point of Order) on Friday.

Kamel added that throughout the revolution she has encountered many brave women who faced bullets and tear gas, yet they might have thought that the time is not yet ripe for them to take part in politics.

Kamel attributed her decision not to join any party to the stagnation of the political scene in Egypt before the revolution.

“This is did not get a lot better after the revolution and I didn’t find a party I wanted to join and preferred to run as an independent.”

Kamel admitted that the dominance of Islamists, who scored a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections, will make her job much harder, but added that she has already started opening channels with all political powers.

“Among those powers, I contacted the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and several of its members said they do not have a problem with me running for president, but in any case I am not their candidate.”

Kamel added that Egypt is predominantly Muslim, yet all religions promote the same values like justice, equality, and benevolence.

“I like what one MP said about rights taking precedence over the application of strict Islamic laws.”

The call for a civil state, Kamel pointed out, is not against Islamic principles because, she argued, Islam does not promote the establishment of a religious state in the first place.

Kamel criticized the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SACF) and the Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Aboul Naga for their stance on the illegal funding of NGOs.

“This was all fabricated. The authorities gave those NGOs permission to monitor the elections two months ago, so how come they do this when they consider their presence in the country illegal?”

Kamel said her political platform basically focuses on fighting poverty and corruption.

“In addition to this, I am planning to expose all those involved in corruption whether before or after the revolution.”

Regarding her foreign policy, Kamel said she will enhance Egypt’s sovereignty and make sure it is not subordinate to any foreign power, yet stressed that she supports openness to the whole world.

“I believe in flexible diplomacy and in not putting all the eggs in one basket.”

Kamel explained that she is against only focusing on strengthening ties with the Arab world and stressed the importance of Africa.

“As for Israel, Egypt already has established relations with it but the former regime gave up on many of its rights in its relationship with Israel.”

However, Kamel said she is still skeptical about holding the presidential elections.

“I don’t know if the elections will take place to start with. SCAF head Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi said that all scenarios are possible. I do not trust the military and I consider their presence illegitimate.”


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)