Mahmoud Atteya, the coordinator of the Egypt Above All Coalition, said he has launched the Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi for President campaign because he trusts the military leader. Atteya believes Tantawi helped the revolution succeed by protecting it from the oppression of the former Mubarak regime.
Al-Masry Al-Youm sat down for an interview with Atteya, in which he denied any link between his campaign and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and charged other political forces with attempting to distort his efforts.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Why did you launch the Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi for President campaign?
Mahmoud Atteya: Because I and other Egypt Above All Coalition members believe that the military institution and its leaders are the only ones capable of peacefully getting Egypt out of this critical transition phase. They can overcome the economic deterioration and insecurity and properly restructure all state institutions.
We have chosen Tantawi in particular because he is the head of the military institution that protected the revolution from the Mubarak regime's oppression.
Al-Masry: Why doesn't the coalition support any of the other current presidential hopefuls?
Atteya: Because we believe the current phase needs a strong and decisive candidate and that this only applies to Tantawi. The members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces protected the revolution and supported revolutionaries, and this is their most convincing claim that someone from military should be president.
Al-Masry: This campaign has been severely criticized by many political groups and leaders. Why?
Atteya: It is not criticism. These are despotic opinions intended to personally tarnish my image and that of other members of the coalition. It exceeds the bounds of decency. They have ridiculed me personally, which means they reject my view [that Tantawi is the best candidate], which I believe is the majority opinion of the Egyptian people at this stage.
Al-Masry: Do you or any of the coalition members have any links to the SCAF?
Atteya: Not at all. And a statement issued by a SCAF member denied any links to the coalition or the campaign.
Al-Masry: Have you met any SCAF members since launching the campaign?
Atteya: This has not happened. But some citizens who support the campaign called us and demanded to join. The majority of them were from Upper Egypt. I also received phone calls and messages threatening to assassinate me if I continued the campaign. These people are, by the way, a minority seeking to muzzle our voices, but I will not comply with them. I will file a claim with the public prosecutor if these threats continue.
Al-Masry: Who is funding your campaign?
Atteya: The campaign is self-funded by its members; the majority of us are business owners. We have refused to take funds from outside the coalition so that we cannot be accused later on of being funded or encouraged by anonymous sources, as some have already claimed.
The posters we placed in streets cost only a total of LE2000. And by the way, I would like to compare the author of a newspaper article written right after our launch saying that the coalition would place five million posters in the streets to the man who goes to offer condolences to a family without knowing the deceased.
Al-Masry: What do you think of those who liken you to Magdy al-Kordy, the coordinator of Gamal Mubarak for President campaign?
Atteya: It is an indication of the absurdity, helplessness and decline in criticism of us, because unlike our campaign, Kordy's did not come from the people.
Al-Masry: Will you continue your campaign despite the military council's confirmation that it will not nominate a military leader for the presidential election?
Atteya: Of course we will continue, because our campaign stems from the popular will. It is a call for the field marshal to run for one term as president in order to traverse Egypt's transitional phase. This is a legitimate demand.
Al-Masry: What do you say to accusations that you are a remnant of the dissolved National Democratic Party?
Atteya: I believe such terms are the kind of extremism and racism incompatible with the objectives of the 25 January revolution. The businessmen and ministers who looted the money of people and the MPs who rigged the elections are the ones who should be called remnants and thank God I'm not one of them. We must stop labeling all those with whom we disagree remnants.
Translated from the Arabic Edition