A prominent Islamist candidate for the Egyptian presidency was attacked by armed men overnight and was in an intensive care unit in hospital suffering from brain concussion, aides and police said on Friday, underscoring an increase in crime a year after a country wide uprising.
Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, 60, was on his way home from a campaign event in the city of Munufeya when three armed men wearing masks and carrying machineguns stopped him.
“They beat him on the head repeatedly, took the car and ran,” said campaign team member Ahmed Osama.
“He is now in the intensive care unit and conscious,” said Osama.
The attack occurred two weeks before candidates register to run in the presidential election that Egypt is holding under plans by the ruling military council to hand over power to a new head of state at the end of June.
Abul Fotouh, a former senior member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement, is considered one of the more popular candidates in the election, which is set to take place by the end of June.
He was expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood, which emerged as the biggest single party in a parliamentary election, when he defied its decision not to put up a presidential candidate.
Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, one of the most widely respected Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world, has described Abul Fotouh as the “leading candidate” in a field including former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, a liberal and former foreign minister.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s decision not to field its own presidential candidate is part of an effort to ease concerns at home and abroad about Islamist domination of Egypt after an uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak from 30 years of power last February.
The military council has ruled Egypt since then.
Police have reported a spike in crime after an uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak one year ago, and which also targeted police stations across the country.
Drivers in particular complain of an increase in carjackings on Cairo’s ring road.