CAIRO - Egypt's leading religious scholars spurned the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's choice and picked an apolitical Islamic law professor on Monday to be the country's top cleric.
The post of grand mufti of Egypt carries wide influence over legislation and social affairs.
"Dr Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, professor of Islamic law in Tanta University, got the highest number of votes and the matter has been sent to the president to issue his decision," a statement from al-Azhar seat of learning said.
President Mohamed Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, is expected to formalize his appointment soon.
The contender groomed by the Brotherhood, Abdul Rahman al-Bar, 50, a 30-year veteran of the conservative Islamist group and member of its decision-making Supreme Guidance Council, was not even in the top three nominees, officials said.