Egypt: Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Muslim Brotherhood leader, will run for president

A leader in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, has announced his plans to run for president of Egypt, igniting concerns over the influence of Islamists on Egypt's new government. The move comes despite an agreement by the Muslim Brotherhood to not field a candidate.

Aboul Fotouh, the head of the Arab Doctors' Union and a member of the organization's legislative Shura Council, is considered a moderate leader within the Brotherhood, reports the Wall Street Journal. He has come out in favor of a stronger relationship with the West and supports the rights of women and religious minorities.

However, his announcement to run for presidency shifts a break with the Brotherhood's leadership. The group had promised not to put up a candidate in the presidential election over fears that the Islamists would yield too strong an influence.

He said he would run as an independent, and the Muslim Brotherhood officials said they will not support his candidacy. 

“He is a sophisticated, cultured man with well-thought out ideas,” Ibrahim al-Hodeibi, an analyst who follows the group, told the Financial Times. “But he will find it difficult to gain votes from Brotherhood backers. They [the leaders] will make a big effort to ensure that he does not get much support. There is a current within the group which does not like his views, which they consider too liberal.”

Aboul Fotouh's candidacy is likely to create concern among Christians and seculars in Egypt of the influence of Islamists on politics.

The editor-in-chief of a local Coptic newspaper called Al Watani told the Wall Street Journal that Christians, who make up 10 percent of Egypt's population, would not support any candidate with an Islamist background.

Sectarian riots between Christians and Muslims killed 15 people earlier in the week.

The Brotherhood is likely to have the largest bloc in the next parliament, giving it enormous political weight, the Financial Times states.