Tahrir Square - AP - Dec. 23, 2011
Egyptian protesters during a rally at Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. Photo by AP
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A leading Islamist candidate in the Egyptian presidential race got a surprise endorsement yesterday from the best-known activist of last year's revolution.

Abdul Moneim Aboul Foutuh, an Islamist considered one of the three leading candidates for the Egyptian presidency, won the endorsement of Wael Ghanim, a Google manager and charismatic organizer of the January 25, 2011 demonstrations that launched the popular uprising which eventually forced President Hosni Mubarak out of power.

Ghanim, whose oratory made him world-famous during the mass protests, said he was supporting Aboul Foutuh because the candidate best represents all Egyptians and would unite the nation rather than divide it.

The other two leading candidates are Amr Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister, and Mohammed Morsy, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The presidential election is scheduled for May 23 and 24, with a runoff in mid-June if necessary.

Aboul Foutuh has recently received the support of a number of groups and parties, among them Al-Jamiya al-Islamiya, which is one of the country's most radical parties and is considered a terror group. Aboul Foutuh also has the support of the radical Salafi party and the moderate Islamic Al-Wasat party. Aboul Foutuh had previously belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood, but left the movement last year when he decided to run for president, since at the time the Brotherhood had declared it would not run a candidate for president.

Moussa, who launched his campaign yesterday, was the leader in a poll published by Al-Ahram newspaper, with 41 percent support among those surveyed, while Aboul Foutuh was second with 27 percent.