The leading candidate is Abdul Rahman al-Bar, 50, a member of the Brotherhood’s decision-making Supreme Guidance Council who was jailed under Mubarak and helped draft a new constitution adopted in December that expanded Islamic oversight. His appointment would tighten the conservative Brotherhood’s grip on power, replacing liberal-minded preacher Ali Gomaa, 61, who had publicly condemned radical fatwas, including some issued by Brotherhood supporters.
The mufti serves until he reaches retirement age at 60. Gomaa was granted a one-year extension by the military council that ruled Egypt until Mursi was elected last year.
“Bar is the most likely choice as it reflects the change the scholars’ panel has undergone since Mursi came to power as about 70 percent of its members are either Brotherhood or (hardline) salafis,” political scientist Mustapha al-Sayyid said.