By deciding to field a candidate in Egypt's upcoming presidential election, the long-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has turned a corner. So has Khairat al-Shater, the chosen Islamist contender for the top job in Egypt post-Hosni Mubarak.
Unsurprisingly the hardline organization took a policy U-turn and went back on its earlier promise that it will stay out of the race for the country's top post, drawing severe backlash from the liberals and the Western powers who fear an Islamist takeover of a country going through a critical juncture.
Apart from the general disapproval, the group's choice of the candidate has also come under the scrutiny of political analysts inside Egypt and abroad.
Here is a roundup of facts about the Brotherhood's presidential contender:
1. Political Prisoner - Al-Shater, a 61-year-old engineering professor, has served 12 years behind the bars for his association with Muslim Brotherhood which was previously banned in Egypt. Born on May 4, 1950 in the Nile Delta province of Daqahliya, he joined Brotherhood in 1981, after serving many years as a student member.
2. Millionaire - He is brotherhood's chief financier and has played a key role in developing the group's economic policy. He recently met with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team that is negotiating a $3.2bn loan facility with the Egyptian government. He has also served as the Brotherhood's representative at meetings with foreign diplomats and international investors.
Egyptians recognize him as a wealthy businessman running successful furniture and textile stores, a computer firm and chain of supermarkets. He also commands mass support across the Brotherhood's grassroots members, partly due to his long history of political struggle including imprisonment.
3. Family Man- Father of 10, al-Shater can stress his well-known and favorable image as a family man, to strike a chord with Egyptians Muslims.
4. Bully or Hawk? - One Western diplomat who recently met al-Shater said he could detect traces of a bully during a heated discussion, but added that he has a calm persona who exuded control in another meeting. He needs to have grown a thick skin of self-preservation, given his time in jail, the unnamed official told Reuters. Some Arab media has occasionally described him as the the Brotherhood's hawk or enforcer.
5. Named Global Thinker - Al-Shater was named in Foreign Policy magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers in December 2011. The magazine described him as a media-savvy engineer who became prosperous as a textile and furniture trader, developing a knack for working with foreign investors.