Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, debated ex-diplomat Amr Moussa Thursday in the run-up to the first presidential election since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak last year, The New York Times reported.
Thirteen candidates are running for president but only Aboul Fotouh and Moussa participated in the historic debate.
Moussa tried repeatedly to chip away at Aboul Fotouh's unlikely coalition of secular liberals, moderate Islamists and the ultraconservative Salafis.
"He uses double language," Moussa said. "He's a Salafi with Salafis, he's centrist with centrists and he's a liberal with liberals, and there's a question mark."
Aboul Fotouh stressed individual freedoms and social justice.
"There's no contradiction between religion and citizenship, or religion and the constitution, or religion and the state," he said.
Aboul Fotouh noted Moussa was part of the Mubarak government, having been a diplomat for much of his career, the Times said.
"We are a revolution that broke out against a tyrant regime," Aboul Fotouh said. "Those who take part in creating the problem couldn't be part of the solution."
Moussa replied, "When the regime [had] fallen, it fell with its men and I wasn't one of them."