Thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Egypt on Friday, to demand that Ahmed Shafiq, a former senior official in Hosni Mubarak's ousted regime, be disqualified from next month's presidential runoff.
Shafiq, who served as Mubarak's last prime minister, was one of the top two finishers in the first round of Egypt's presidential election, advancing to a June 16-17 runoff against Mohammed Morsi, the candidate of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.
According to The Associated Press, in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, at least 7,000 protesters, some of them carrying Egyptian flags or holding their shoes in the air in a sign of disrespect, said that Shafiq should be barred from running because of his senior position in the Mubarak regime.
Smaller rallies demanding Shafiq's disqualification also took place in Cairo, Port Said, Suez, North Sinai as well as at least six other provinces, the report said.
Shafiq has cast himself as a strongman who will restore law and order after nearly 16 months of sporadic but violent protests and a lapse in security. Shortly after the first round results were announced this week, Shafiq's campaign headquarters in Cairo were torched.
Many Egyptians said on Friday they want neither Shafiq nor the Brotherhood's candidate, Morsi, as their next president. Protesters criticized both candidates.
“I am here and I don't want Shafiq or Morsi because Shafiq spilled our children's blood. I paid the price of this revolution upfront,” the mother of a protester killed during last year's uprising told AP. “As for the Brotherhood, they sat in parliament and what have they done?”
Some of the protesters Friday chanted slogans against both candidates, as well as the ruling military council that took power after Mubarak was toppled, and some in the crowd said they will boycott the runoff.
Shafiq has said that he would be ready to visit Israel, if elected, “provided it gives something to show it has good intentions.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, which also clinched the majority in recent parliamentary elections, has threatened to cancel the peace treaty with Israel by putting the issue up for a referendum and letting Egyptians decide.
Meanwhile, Mubarak’s verdict and sentence will be announced on Saturday and will be carried live by Egyptian state television.
Mubarak and his security chiefs are charged with murder over the killings of protesters during the 18-day revolt that overthrew him on February 11, 2011. He shares corruption charges with his sons Alaa and Gamal.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)