Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Egyptian presidential candidate: “The whole world should convert to Islam. Now.”


Osama Shaltut claims to descend from the Prophet Mohammed and the centrepiece of his campaign for the Egyptian presidency is a promise to convert the entire world to Islam.

The 66-year-old leader of the Solidarity Party, who wears a broad smile and a neatly-trimmed beard, does not like wasting time.

"Why wait?" he asks. "The whole world should convert to Islam. Now."

Shaltut, the only Islamist candidate in Egypt's September 7 presidential election, nevertheless knows he will have to wait before he can unseat President Hosni Mubarak, who is widely expected to be re-elected.

When he introduces himself, Shaltut requests he be addressed as "Sharif" due to his holy ancestry or "Doctor" owing to his PhD in accounting.

His programme, he says, is threefold.

"First, let's gather the leaders of all religions. Then, let's apply their principles and assess the results... Finally, let's proclaim the victory of Islam."

But Shaltut admits such a process "would take around 10 years", so he advocates a universal conversion to Islam to speed things up and "for the good of humanity".

Egypt is a 90% Muslim country where radical views are widespread and, to convince recalcitrant voters, Shaltut has also launched a mass SMS campaign, using mobile phone text messaging to spread his views.

Egypt releases senior member of Muslim Brotherhood


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