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Fact Sheets: Egyptian Presidential Elections - Hazem Salah Abu Ismail

(Updated June 2012)

Hazem Salah Abu Ismail is a lawyer by trade, a noted television preacher in Egypt, and a politician with the Salafi Islamist party.

Abu Ismail, 50, has called for implementing a strict version of Islamic law, similar to Saudi Arabia, with segregation of the sexes and enforcement of public morality. He also gained popular support through his denunciations of the military rule following the January 2011 revolution which unseated President Hosni Mubarak. Abu Ismail is an outspoken critic of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel and looks at Iran as a successful model of Islamic independence from the United States.

Abu Ismail was considered a front-runner in the May 2012 presidential elections but, on April 5, the Egyptian Interior Ministry announced it had documents proving his mother, Nawal Abdel-Aziz, obtained American citizenship, a fact which would break the electoral laws and disquality Abu Ismail from running. On April 11, the Cairo Administrative Court said authorities did not have enough evidence to prove Ismail's mother was a US citizen, thus paving the way for his reentry into the race. However, a few days later, the Supreme Presidential Election Committee still disqualified Ismail's candidacy on the basis that his mother did in fact briefly hold American citizenship.

Below is a sampling of his views on certain important issues:
Changing the Government | Relations with Israel | Islamic Society | Egyptian Foreign Relations

On Changing the Government in Egypt

- "We welcome democracy, as long as it does not run counter to our Lord. For us, democracy is sacred and held in high esteem, which cannot be violated, as long as it does not transgress religious prohibitions, as long as it is not against Allah."
(Al-Mihwar TV, November 2011)

- "[The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruling Egypt] is done with. I tell them that they have no choice but to get on a plane and be gone immediately. There is absolutely no other option."
(Al-Mihwar TV, November 2011)

- "A civil state in three senses: The people elect the ruler, the people hold the ruler accountable, and the people depose the ruler if he loses his legitimacy."
(CBC TV, September 2011)

On Relations with Israel

- "We used to say that we would throw [Israel] into the sea and that we would fight and enter Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The result was that they crushed our country so hard that the Sinai was completely occupied twice in 11 years. What a catastrophe!"
(MEMRI TV, November 2011)

- "If not for the Gulf of Aqaba, the Jews would suffocate and die, because this is the only artery through which they can export goods ... If the Egyptians were to sit along the coastline - I am talking about civilians, not the military ... the Israeli economy would die on the spot because any ship passing through would be in danger."
(MEMRI TV, November 2011)

- "I am an enemy of the Camp David Accord and the peace agreement ... but the moment [I become] a statesman who runs the country ... I do not intend to implement my political desires. I intend to prepare the country to make the decision."
(CBC TV, September 2011)

- "I am opposed to Camp David, opposed to the peace agreement, opposed to exporting gas [to Israel], it's not just me, it's all Egyptians. Nobody wants Israel to get anything."
(CBC TV, September 2011)

- "I do want to wage war ... war, or even economic confrontation, is very unlikely. I will not fight them and I will be the best person for the US and Israel."
(CBC TV, September 2011)

- "Do you know what the word "Pepsi" means? ... P stands for "pay," E stands for "every," the third letter stands for "Penny" ... Pay it to "Saving," I - "Israel." In other words, pay every small coin you recieve in order to save Israel ... When you pay [to buy Pepsi], you are saving Israel ... Not just Pepsi, but Coca-Cola and all of them."
(Al-Nas TV, February 2009)

On Islamic Society

- "We will not shut down the beaches but we shall not permit disgraceful nudity which currently exists on Egyptian beaches ... at the end of the day when I believe in Allah, I cannot ... allow my daughter, my son, my brother, my sister, or my wife to see theses disgraceful sites."
(CBC TV, September 2011)

- "Allah obligates [women] to wear [the hijab] ... When I become president of this country ... I say only things that Allah says."
(CBC TV, September 2011)

- "Islamic law has instated a punishment for thieves - whoever steals has his hand chopped off ... due to Islamic law, during the [first] 100 years of Islam, there were only four cases of theft ... This goes not only for theft, but also for usury and for adultery ... In countries where promiscuity prevails ... you've seen how AIDS has spread ... the entire world is ablaze with the AIDS disease ... The only exception is the Islamic region."
(Al-Risala TV, September 2008)

On Egyptian Foreign Relations

- "[We have] ideological disagreements with Iran, and we cannot tolerate their faith ... Nevertheless, you see how Iran is making America's head spin even though [the UN] issued a report accusing Iran of making a nuclear bomb."
(MEMRI TV, November 2011)