He’s on the move again. Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fotouh has finished one interview in a suite at the Movenpick hotel outside Cairo and now he’s squeezing his six-foot frame into a Volkswagen Passat to get to the next thing. A candidate for president, Abou el-Fotouh can’t afford billboard signs or television spots. His campaign doesn’t even have money for polling. So, alongside his rallies and speeches, the 60-year-old Islamist is doing as many radio and television interviews as he can fit into a day. “They don’t cost money and they give him a lot of exposure,” explains his media chief.
For this one, he spends two hours in a cramped radio studio with co-hosts of a pop-music station. It’s not what you would expect from a guy with a prayer welt on his forehead. The music played in the interludes is western and loud. The hosts, both women, are wearing tight-fitting clothes and high heels. But Abou el-Fotouh manages to connect. “I’m a Libra,” he tells them in his introduction, a point he slips in between details about his former membership in the Moslem Brotherhood and his jail sentences during the reign of the previous regime. When one of the hosts identifies herself as a Christian and asks why her community has had to endure second-class status in Egypt, he sounds a decidedly liberal note. “Nations rise only if there is justice. Otherwise there will be no development.”
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