Presidential Bid of Former Mubarak Man Divides Egypt's Revolution

Islamists call Omar Suleiman's candidacy 'absurd' and an 'insult,' while leaders of the country's revolutionary movement see a possible secular hope amid a religious field.

Omar Suleiman, who was former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's head of intelligence, and who announced his presidential bid on Sunday, said Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood threatened to kill him if he went through with his candidacy

In an interview with Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar, former President Hosni Mubarak's one-time vice president said that he had recieved dozens of text messages, some of which included death threats.

Omar Suleiman - AP - 8.4.2012

Suleiman added that his aides also passed on threts, the source of which they identified as members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Salesman's candidacy, which was announced on Sunday, has drawn fire both from Muslim Brotherhood officials as well as from leaders of the secular protest movement.

The Muslim Brotherhood's former leader Mohammed Mahdi Akef said on Monday that Suleiman's bid was a "irrevocable absurdity," while the movement's presidential candidate, Khairat el-Shater, described the candidcay of the former top Mubarak official as "an insult to the Egyptian revolution."

Abd el-Munam Abu al-Fatua, another religious presidential hopeful, who winthdrew from the Muslim Brotherhood in order to compete in the upcoming race, blamed Suleiman on Sunday of turning "Egypt into an Israeli treasure."

In an attempt to delegitimize Suleiman's candidacy, websites with links to the religious movements in Egypt released reports on Sunday of his alleged favorable ties with Israel; of Israel's reported satisfaction from his candidacy; and of the intention of Egypt's Coptic Christians to support the former Mubarak official.

However, the secular movements are divided on Suleiman. On one hand, those against his presidential bid say he represents the old regime and that "his place is in prison, not in a campaign." However, on the other hand, Suleiman seems to represent form many seculars a hope against a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of all key positions.

Suleiman's candidacy could hurt Amr Mussa's chances to win the elections, since until now he was seen as the one representing the liberal-secular stream against the main religious candidates.

At the same time, however, Mussa is also targeted by some in the secular movement, for several reasons: since he served as Mubarak's one-time foreign minister; his daughter was married to Ashraf Marwan, considered to be the most important spy Israel infiltrated into Egypt; and since he gained his tenure as UN secretary general thanks to massive support from Mubarak.

The attacks on Suleiman were to be expected, and were also reminders of why he changed his mind regarding offering his candidacy three times. However, despite his own denials, it seems that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is the one which finally pressured him into making the move, thus relaying the message that the army did not intend to let the Muslim Brotherhood take over the political arena.