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Another Islamist candidate in the race is Abdel-Moneim Abol-Fotouh, a longtime Brotherhood member from its reformist wing who was booted out of the organization last year when he announced he would run for president. His campaign has drawn support from young, reform-members of the Brotherhood.
El-Shater has held multiple meetings with Salafis trying to win support and pressure Abu Ismail to drop out, said Salafi cleric Amin el-Ansari, who is close to Abu Ismail’s campaign.
Some Salafis do see an appeal in el-Shater because the Brotherhoods’ more disciplined organization could be more likely to bring results, el-Ansari said.
"This is reassuring to the clerics and to the voters," he said. "The Muslim Brotherhood members are like cogs in a machine and like soldiers who wouldn’t violate the decisions of their leadership."
So far, however, Abu Ismail is staying in the race.
In a meeting in the Mediterranean city and Salafi stronghold Alexandria, Abu Ismail was asked to withdraw. He refused, replying, "the one who created sedition is the one who should put it down," in reference to el-Shater’s nomination, according to his aide Gamal Saber.
Saber also threatened that unless the Al-Nour party, the Salafi’s main political arm, endorses Abu Ismail, hundreds of young party members would break away.
Abu Ismail faces a possible hitch. Opponents are demanding an investigation into reports that his mother holds American citizenship. If true, it would disqualify him from the race, since the rule bar any candidate with a foreign parent. Abu Ismail has insisted his mother is not a U.S. citizen.
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