Islamic thinker and Egyptian presidential candidate Hazem Abu Ismail walked out on a political debate organized by the Model Council of Ministers (MCM) in Mansour Hall on Wednesday Oct. 26 after an argument took place between him and the event’s MC.
Debates about Abu Ismail’s ability to get enough votes in the presidential race given his Islamic ideology was discussed amongst those who are closely following the paths of the candidates in the AUC community.
The forum, which was supposed to last for two hours, ended abruptly 40 minutes in after the students and the event’s MC insisted to ask questions, although Abu Ismail had not finished his talk.
“We asked him to come to AUC so that we can know about his ideology since he running for president,” said Lina Nabrawy, assistant Marketing Director at MCM.
“He was supposed to talk for fifteen minutes about himself, then for the following fifteen minutes answer questions presented by the MC, and then for fifteen minutes he was supposed to answer questions posed by the students present,” Nabrawy added.
The event started on time with Abu Ismail being introduced to the audience and telling them about himself.
According to Salma Hegab, a student and one of the audience members, Abu Ismail was asked to talk about his vision for Egypt. However, he disregarded the question and started talking about the history if Egypt.
“The debate turned into a religious lesson, and he kept on talking for a long time about how the West occupied the Arabic countries and has always been conspiring to hold Egypt back and not allow it to develop. That had really bored everyone present because he was talking in the past and kept ignoring the questions presented to him,” she said.
Hegab added that foreign students and faculty sitting next to her were really upset by the way Abu Ismail was talking about the West.
As his speech continued, the event’s MC’s kept reminding Abu Ismail to make his speech shorter as there were questions to be asked and they were tight on time. To this, Abu Ismail decided that this was a “rude” gesture, thanked the audience, and left the hall with crowds calling after him and others voicing their concerns.
Rather than leaving the vicinity, Abu Ismail met with some of the students outside of the hall on the club car that was escorting him, and explained how he had to leave because the organizers did not stick to their word or to the planned program.
He described the attitude of the moderator as “ unjust” which indicated that the organizers had intentionally meant to cut off his speech.
“I was supposed to talk for an hour as per determined by the organizers and then I would give time to answering questions, but that did not happen,” said Abu Ismail.
He added that had MCM asked him to come and answer only questions, he would have also agreed to come.
While some may have found Abu Ismail’s actions justifiable, others saw that he was not being flexible and should have reacted in a better way.
“He did not make the right move, but still he does not deserve that all this bad propaganda that happened after the debate, with people saying that this shows how he will react in the future and if he does become president.” Said Amr Nour, an electronics engineering senior.
Students also believed that there was merely a misunderstanding on Abu Ismail’s side and bad organization from MCM for such an event.
“The problem with the event is that he was not able to understand that the students had to ask these questions because of the time limit. It is all a misunderstanding, that is all. However, I felt he was aggressive too,” said Yara Mahfouz, a finance senior.
It is noted that Abu Ismail is often affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, who had recently been emerging in the Egyptian political scene after the ouster of Mubarak’s regime. However, he insists that he is not an active member although he was their legal representative in many security-related cases in the past.