CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s two presidential candidates intensified their media attacks against each other on Saturday, threatening to further inflame tensions in the lead-up to the vote next weekend which has been marred by violence.
The poll on June 16-17 is between Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister of ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi.
It has angered and confused many Egyptians who say they did not stage a revolt to replace Mubarak with an Islamist or a former member of his regime.
Several of Shafik’s campaign offices have been attacked, and protesters have hit the streets to demonstrate against both candidates.
Liberal newspaper Al-Dostour on Saturday ran a full-page-advertisement for Shafik called “SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats”.
The unpaid advertisement, which consisted of a big table divided between the two candidates, was a clear attack on Mursi.
Shafik’s weaknesses were listed as: “His being counted in the former regime and seen as not the best one to govern Egypt, but the best for the time being.”
Mursi’s were: “Does not deserve to rule Egypt and is linked to the Brotherhood group that the people gave their trust six months ago and got nothing in return.”
In conclusion, the table said: “Close your eyes and imagine the shape of the world with Mursi, imagine your mother, sister, wife and daughter, imagine yourself as a second-class moderate Muslim or a third-class Christian, who would you vote for?”
The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper had a big smiling picture of Mursi on the front page of its Saturday issue, with him quoted as saying: “Mubarak’s regime and his gang have a degree in ill-manners.”
The paper ran inside a two-page interview with Mursi, in which the Brotherhood candidate called himself “the son of the revolution” and pledged to protect Egyptians’ rights.
Shafik and Mursi got the most number of votes out of 13 candidates in last month’s first-round poll but many Egyptians remain worried about the fate of freedoms and democracy under both rules.
Concerns about Shafik, a former air force commander, lie in his links to Mubarak and the military and whether he has the mentality and desire to change Egypt from autocratic to democratic rule.
As for Mursi, there are worries rose over his party’s vagueness on how public freedoms and the rights of women and Christians will be dealt with if Islamic laws are enforced.
The Brotherhood won most seats in a parliamentary vote six months ago but has since then failed to offer any solution to the people’s main demands for higher incomes and social justice.
Egypt has been ruled by the army since the toppling of Mubarak in February 2011. Hundreds of Egyptians were killed during the uprising.
Mubarak and his former interior minister were both sentenced to life in prison last week for their role in the killing of protesters.
In a press conference on June 3, Shafik launched a fierce attack on the Brotherhood and Mursi and said he would not permit them to take the Egyptian people and women back to “the dark ages”.
Mursi responded by holding a conference on women the next day in which he promised their rights would be protected under his rule.
Reporting and Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Pravin Char