Egypt: Islamist group names cleric for president

An ultraconservative Islamist party in Egypt has put forward a leading Muslim cleric recently banned from entering France as its presidential candidate.

The Gamaa Islamiya, or Islamic Group, said Saturday that it has chosen Safwat Hegazy, a prominent imam who took part in last year's protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

France barred Hegazy last month from entering the country along with a number of other high-profile Muslim clerics on the grounds that they "call for hatred and violence."

A leading Gamaa Islamiya sheik, Abdel-Akher Hamad, said Hegazy was chosen because he is a well known Islamist and supports the application of Islamic law.

The Gamaa Islamiya was a militant organization that fought Mubarak's regime in the 1990s, seeking to establish an Islamic state. It has since renounced violence.