Shafiq says ‘secretive’ Brotherhood will lead Egypt to ‘dark ages’

Egyptian presidential runoff candidate Ahmed Shafiq attacked the Muslim Brotherhood, saying the group was exploiting religion for electoral purposes. (Reuters)

Egypt’s presidential candidate and former Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, on Sunday slammed his rival Mohamed Mursi as the representative of a “secretive group” that seeks to lead Egypt back to “dark ages,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Shafiq, who shocked many spectators when he came second in the first round of the presidential elections late May - as he was an integral part of the toppled government of President Hosni Mubarak - vowed that the next government should be civilian-led.

He urged Egyptians “to choose for Egypt a president who will make it a country for all, not a state for one faction.”

The former air force commander, who will face Mursi in a presidential run-off later this month, said Egypt under his leadership would respect human rights.

“No one will be detained for their opinion... Security services will be committed to the law and to human rights standards,” Shafiq told a news conference.

“I represent a secular state... the Brotherhood represents a sectarian state.”

“I represent progress and light, they represent backwardness and darkness,” he said.

Shafiq said he would strive for a “modern, civil, fair state” while the Muslim Brotherhood will “take it to the dark ages.”

Shafiq gained support as a candidate in the country’s first post-revolt presidential election thanks to a strong law-and-order campaign in a country where many crave stability.

But the ex-air force commander, who served as the last prime minister under ousted president Mubarak, is reviled by activists who spearheaded the 2011 revolt.
Before his press conference, Shafiq’s offices were attacked early Sunday in two provincial towns, a security services official said.

Shafiq’s campaign headquarters in Cairo had already been attacked on Monday.

Footage posted on Al-Ahram website showed young men destroying and burning Shafiq’s pictures and banners and others chanting: “Fayoum says Ahmed Shafiq is feloul (an Arabic word used to refer to remnant of an ousted political regime).”

The latest attacks came after thousands of angry protesters across Egypt took to the streets on Saturday after ousted Mubarak and his security chief were given life in prison over the deaths of protesters in 2011 but six police chiefs were acquitted.

A group of protesters invaded the headquarters of Shafiq’s campaign in Fayyoum south of Cairo before setting fire to the building, the security official said.
Premises in Hurghada on the Red Sea were pillaged and the windows smashed.

The official said the blaze in Fayyoum had been brought under control and calm had returned around the buildings in both towns.

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