In an apparent bid to win over voters in the working class areas, Islamist contenders have set up kiosks to sell meat at economical prices. Candidates in the southern Egyptian province of Assiut distributed sacrificial meat for free with their photos pasted on the beef bags, according to the semi-official newspaper Al Ahram.
In Beni Sueif, another province in southern Egypt, parliament hopefuls reportedly offered cash gifts to children.
Other contenders, mainly from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, arranged raffle draws in which winners received valuable prizes including sheep.
For 60 years, under Hosni Mubarak's leadership, the Islamists were banned from politics. They are now out in force trying to win over the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people. Although still banned from campaigning in 'places of worship', the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are bucking the law and doing it anyway. Voters are being urged to
"elect candidates who know well God's religion and are careful to implement Sharia."
"The enforcement of God's law is coming," said Sobhi Saleh, an Islamist contender in a sermon in the coastal city of Alexandria. "The Tunisians did this and so can the Egyptians," he added, referring to the big win made by Tunisia's Islamists in the October vote.
The liberals and secularists are not very happy with this turn of events, and fear for the future of Egypt, with very good reason.
"The candidates are obviously exploiting the religious sentiments of the Egyptians to win them over," said Fat'hi Mansour, a professor of political sociology. "They are also illegally using mosques in their campaigns. This is dangerous and should be stopped," he told this newspaper.
According to him, sermons delivered by Islamist contenders or their supporters inside mosques threaten to divide Egypt into religious and non-religious people. "This was clear in the slogans chanted inside mosques against liberals and secularists," said Mansour.
"There is also an apparent manipulation of people's needs in the poor areas in campaigning. Addressing religious feelings instead of promoting religious tolerance poses a threat to Egypt."
There are female candidates, which is a promising sign, until you delve into who some of those candidates are. Muna Salah, a veiled Salafist, believes that
....women are deficient in intelligence and religion, and it is not permissible for them to be in authority or to occupy the office of the presidency. She defended her candidacy for the People's Council, saying that acting as a representative in the Council only partial authority and not complete authority [sic], such as the presidency of the republic. She added that she seeks to apply the Islamic shari'a, including cutting off the hands of thieves, preventing the mingling of men and women, and specifying black clothes for women and white clothes for men.