Born in 1951 in Cairo, Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh is a well-known Islamist activist, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and currently the secretary-general of the Arab Medical Union.
Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh graduated from medical school at Cairo University in 1976. While serving a prison term under Mubarak between 1996 and 2001, Abdel-Fotouh obtained a bachelors degree in law from Cairo University. He is known for his strong and vocal opposition to the Sadat and Mubarak regimes and his moderately liberal positions on social issues.
He served in the guidance office of the Brotherhood, the highest executive body of the association, from 1987 to 2009. However, that year he left the guidance office after what many believe to be an internal mini-coup by hardliners against the reformist and moderate trend he represented. Mr. Fotouh has experienced numerous jail time due to his vocal activism. In his two decades with the Brotherhood, he was jailed three times, the first time under Sadat in 1981, along with 1500 politicians, intellectuals and activists in what was a major crackdown on opposition from across the political spectrum. He was later imprisoned for five years under Mubarak after being sentenced by a military court for belonging to a banned group seeking to topple the regime in 1996-2001, and again for five months in 2009.
Today, Abdel-Fotouh's views have shifted considerably from ultraconservative to reformist liberal, which for the 2012 presidential election will enable him to occupy a major role in forging alliances betwen the Brotherhood and non-Islamist factions of the oppostition to the Mubarak regime. Along with his political career, he also had a long career in doctors’ unions and relief organizations, both locally and regionally. His work with the Arab Union of Physicians, in particular, allowed him to develop good connections with officials and public figures on an international scale. Following his decision to run in the 2012 presidential election, in 2011 Abdel-Fotouh severed his political ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, which he had been affiliated with since the early 1970s.