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In Pictures
In pictures: Aboul Fotouh rallies support
The "moderate Islamist" candidate promises Egypt a civil democracy if elected, but some liberals doubt his authenticity.
Last Modified: 22 May 2012 11:13

Cairo, Egypt - The man who could be this country's first democratically elected president sat on a stage in Cairo's upmarket Zamalek district last night, waiting patiently.

As a stream of speakers sang his praises, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh smiled and waved occasionally to the crowd. Days before the voting begins, he seemed calm.

A grey-haired, bespectacled doctor and a former high-ranking member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Aboul Fotouh is running perhaps the first "big tent" movement in recent Egyptian political history. He has seemingly, and improbably, united hardline Salafis and progressive tech geeks, reportedly promising Islamic law to one and a civil state to the other.

As the hours elapsed and the speakers came and went, his brand became clear: first a Tahrir Square revolutionary, then a Muslim scholar, then a liberal actress, then an Islamist politician. Wael Ghonim, the former Google executive arrested during the revolution, was preceded at the podium by Emad Abdel Ghafour, the leader of Egypt's most powerful Salafi political party.

Each looked out into the crowd of several thousand, the jib camera swinging out to broadcast beaming faces, and spoke of a united Egypt that saw no difference between rural southerners and urbane northerners, Christian minorities and Muslim majorities.

Among the people, women in conservative black abaya and niqab and bushy bearded men strolled the dusty grounds of the Gezira Club past hipsters in black-rimmed glasses and graffiti-splashed t-shirts. Eager volunteers in the bright orange gear of the campaign waved flags and rushed about, and in the excitement of the moment, everything seemed to be working.

But can it hold?

When Aboul Fotouh finally spoke, he praised the revolution's "martyrs" and outlined his plan for a "civil, democratic state," what he called masr wasatiyya ["moderate Egypt"]. But secular-minded liberals have begun to doubt his authenticity. Their concerns were not allayed when Aboul Fotouh received a broad Salafist endorsement.

The Nour Party and its Salafi allies, who won roughly a quarter of seats in parliament, seem sure about who they're supporting - after the party officially endorsed Aboul Fotouh late last month.

"I think the liberals, they don’t mind implementing the Islamic sharia," said Ali Shaheen, a 23-year-old student at Al Azhar University, the world’s leading seat of Sunni theology, who stood watching in the back of the crowd. "Abdel Moneim talks about the Islamic sharia very clearly, it’s not just about the punishments, the hudud, like the press talks about, sharia intends justice."

Outside, as Aboul Fotouh finished, four young men who had travelled by bus from El Arish, in the northern Sinai Peninsula, joked and popped roasted seeds into their mouths. Ayoub Ibrahim enumerated his support for Aboul Fotouh: he's Islamic, politically unaffiliated, more popular than the others - and participated in the revolution.

Nearby, two women in niqab waiting for a taxi with their daughter offered some hope to Egypt's anxious liberals. Though supporters of the Nour Party, they said Aboul Fotouh’s religious inclination wasn't their top priority.

"The most important thing is social justice, that no one is above the law and that he restores security," Manal Farouk said. "The interpretation of Islam is not a problem. Hosni [Mubarak] is a Muslim and he screwed us - and there is no democracy with the Muslim Brotherhood."

With additional reporting by Nagham Osman.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
A few hundred youth from the Masrena organisation meet near the Cairo opera to march to the Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh rally at the Gazira club in Zamalek. 


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
Masrena was co-founded by Google executive and activist Wael Ghonim. The group has endorsed Aboul Fotouh for president.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
A young boy leading chants at the rally, which saw speakers from a wide spectrum of polticial opinion endorse Aboul Fotouh.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
Preparing balloons before the main event helped inflate hopes among Aboul Fotouh supporters.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
Supporters of Aboul Fotouh ready themselves for the rally, as the sun sets in Cairo.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
A group of event organisers enthusiastically prepare themselves at the Aboul Fotouh event; the landmark Cairo Tower is seen in the background.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
A sheikh in the audience watches as speakers introduce Aboul Fotouh.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
The crowd chanted "Ghonim" as Wael Ghonim gave his backing to Aboul Fotouh.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
Emad Abdel Ghaffour, head of the Salafist al-Nour party, gives his backing to Aboul Fotouh.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
A supporter carries a cutout of a horse, which is the symbol that will represent Aboul Fotouh on the election ballot next week.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
Young men listening to the speakers.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
A young volunteer stands amid the crowd of thousands.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
After more than two and a half hours of introductions, Aboul Fotouh finally took to the podium to address supporters.


Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel
The Gazira club was so crowded, some had to watch Aboul Fotouh's speech on television near the back of the crowd.


Words by Evan Hill. Photos by Matthew Cassel.

Follow them on Twitter: @evanchill and @justimage


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captions:
A few hundred youth from the Masrena organisation meet near the Cairo opera to march to the Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh rally at the Gazira club in Zamalek. ;*;Masrena was co-founded by Google executive and activist Wael Ghonim. The group has endorsed Aboul Fotouh for president. ;*;A young boy leading chants at the rally, which saw speakers from a wide spectrum of polticial opinion endorse Aboul Fotouh.;*;Preparing balloons before the main event helped inflate hopes among Aboul Fotouh supporters.;*;Supporters of Aboul Fotouh ready themselves for the rally, as the sun sets in Cairo.;*;A group of event organisers enthusiastically prepare themselves at the Aboul Fotouh event; the landmark Cairo Tower is seen in the background.;*;A sheikh in the audience watches as speakers introduce Aboul Fotouh. ;*;The crowd chanted "Ghonim" as Wael Ghonim gave his backing to Aboul Fotouh. ;*;Emad Abdel Ghaffour, head of the Salafist al-Nour party, gives his backing to Aboul Fotouh. ;*;A supporter carries a cutout of a horse, which is the symbol that will represent Aboul Fotouh on the election ballot next week. ;*;Young men listening to the speakers. ;*;A young volunteer stands amid the crowd of thousands.;*;After more than two and a half hours of introductions, Aboul Fotouh finally took to the podium to address supporters. ;*;The Gazira club was so crowded, some had to watch Aboul Fotouh\(***)s speech on television near the back of the crowd. Daylife ID:
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Photographer:
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Image Source:
Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Aboul Fatouh rallyhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rallyen-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Sat, 19 May 2012 09:10:43 GMTSat, 19 May 2012 09:35:15 GMTAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0ep46Et5A18Xi

A few hundred youth from the Masrena organisation meet near the Cairo opera to march to the Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh rally at the Gazira club in Zamalek. 

Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0ep46Et5A18XiAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload Images

A few hundred youth from the Masrena organisation meet near the Cairo opera to march to the Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh rally at the Gazira club in Zamalek. 

Aboul Fotouh rally in Zamalek
Aboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=003E1BL5Ce9RSMasrena was co-founded by Google executive and activist Wael Ghonim. The group has endorsed Aboul Fotouh for president. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=003E1BL5Ce9RSAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesMasrena was co-founded by Google executive and activist Wael Ghonim. The group has endorsed Aboul Fotouh for president. Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0exj6gV13I1aKA young boy leading chants at the Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0exj6gV13I1aKAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA young boy leading chants at the Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0gBVbqDgMS29PSupporters of Aboul Fotouh ready for the rally as the sun sets in Cairo.Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0gBVbqDgMS29PAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesSupporters of Aboul Fotouh ready for the rally as the sun sets in Cairo.Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=005T6JRgv65rVPreparing balloons before the event.Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=005T6JRgv65rVAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesPreparing balloons before the event.Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0awyca5dWp8zBA group of young men rally at the Aboul Fotouh event, Cairo Tower is seen in the background.Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0awyca5dWp8zBAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA group of young men rally at the Aboul Fotouh event, Cairo Tower is seen in the background.Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=06u94SceXOb7AA sheikh in the audience watches as speakers introduce Aboul Fotouh. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=06u94SceXOb7AAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA sheikh in the audience watches as speakers introduce Aboul Fotouh. Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=09HV4yQfZygv6The crowd chanted "Ghonim" as Wael Ghonim gave his backing to Aboul Fotouh. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=09HV4yQfZygv6Al JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe crowd chanted "Ghonim" as Wael Ghonim gave his backing to Aboul Fotouh. Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=06mjcz1bczfGaEmad Abdel Ghaffour head of the Salafist al-Nour party gives his backing to Aboul Fotouh. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=06mjcz1bczfGaAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesEmad Abdel Ghaffour head of the Salafist al-Nour party gives his backing to Aboul Fotouh. Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0c2taXB1tt1PhA supporter carries a cutout of a horse, which is the symbol that will represent Aboul Fotouh on the election ballot next week. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0c2taXB1tt1PhAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA supporter carries a cutout of a horse, which is the symbol that will represent Aboul Fotouh on the election ballot next week. Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0gt21H00EPemcYoung men listening to the speakers. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0gt21H00EPemcAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesYoung men listening to the speakers. Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0fAka2T38E5BWA young volunteer in the crowd.Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0fAka2T38E5BWAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA young volunteer in the crowd.Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0gxP3DD3LO5pmAfter more than two and a half hours of introductions, Aboul Fotouh finally took to the podium to address supporters. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=0gxP3DD3LO5pmAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesAfter more than two and a half hours of introductions, Aboul Fotouh finally took to the podium to address supporters. Aboul Fotouh rally in ZamalekAboul Fotouh rally in Zamalekhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=08y73O43did0CThe Gazira club was crowded and some had to watch Aboul Fotouh's speech on television near the back of the crowd. Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Aboul-Fatouh-rally?image_id=08y73O43did0CAl JazeeraMatthew CasselAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe Gazira club was crowded and some had to watch Aboul Fotouh's speech on television near the back of the crowd. Aboul Fotouh rally in Zamalek


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