Islamist and Salafist groups in Egypt form political parties

Islamists and Salafists have formed several new parties since the January 25 revolution brought new freedoms to Egypt. [Steve Crisp/Reuters]

Islamists and Salafists have formed several new parties since the January 25 revolution brought new freedoms to Egypt. [Steve Crisp/Reuters]

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Less than a month after the Muslim Brotherhood established the Freedom and Justice Party, Gamaa Islamiya and Gamaa Salafiya founded new political parties that will compete in the fall parliamentary elections.

The January 25th Revolution, which lead to the end of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's tenure, opened the door for Islamist groups to get involved in politics. Another Islamist-oriented group, led by three intellectuals, established the Wasat Party. Its origins began 15 years ago when a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood broke from the group with the intention of forming a political party.

Gamaa Islamiya announced June 20th the founding of the Construction and Development Party with plans to compete in the parliamentary elections.

The party's founding document stated it is a "political party that adopts peaceful methods of work, acknowledges the principles of pluralism and equality, equal opportunity and respect for the opinions of others, the convergence between society's communities, and the achievement of social peace and stability in the country."

The statement said, "The party is guided by the provisions of Islamic Sharia, which will ensure the preservation of the nation's identity, the rule of law, a secure and stable life for all citizens, and the establishment of balanced relations with the outside world."

Gamaa Islamiya is well known in Egypt and in the Middle East for its violent methods during the 1980s. The group co-operated with Islamic Jihad in the 1981 assassination of former President Anwar Sadat. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahiri was a leader of Islamic Jihad.

The group renounced violence in 1997 and published its stance in a number of books. The initiative discusses the legal rulings for jihad, the prohibition against killing civilians and the use of violence in all forms and for any reason.

Essam Derbala, a leader in Gamaa Islamiya, told Al-Shorfa that according to the rules of democracy, it is the right of any social movement to have a political party, including the Islamist movement. He said Communists, liberals and Islamists should not be prevented from exercising their right to political action.

He added, "The party is not an arena for discussions of faith. It is a platform for sharing ideas and offering visions to provide solutions to the problems facing the nation. The party is a human project (not a holy one), it can be right and wrong, and it accepts criticism and modification and improvement until it reaches the desired end."

Derbala said that the establishment of a political party confirms the group has chosen peaceful action that translates its ideas. He emphasised that the group's vision is that religion provides a comprehensive approach whereby worldly issues can be reformed through appropriate means, such as the establishment of political parties, as long as the means are legitimate.

Gamaa Salafiya announced on June 12th the establishment of the Nour Political Party which is the first Salafist political party in Egypt's history.

The party's platform states that it seeks "to establish a modern state that respects the rights of peaceful co-existence among the people, separate from the religious model which calls for leadership that claims a divine right to rule and monopolizes truth to itself, and also separate from the atheistic model which wants to sever the nation from its roots and its cultural identity."

Egypt has eight Salafist groups, most of which prefer religious proselytising and refuse to engage in politics or competition for power.

Dr. Mohamed Yousry, the official spokesman for the Nour party, said the party's participation in the parliamentary elections and the number of the candidates it will run has not been set. He said the party is still in the early stages forming committees and organising in the provinces.

Egyptian experts, however, questioned claims made by Islamist political groups about these new parties' concept of a secular state and their respect for the rules of democracy.

Abdul Rahim Ali, an expert on Islamist groups, told Al-Shorfa that Islamist parties in Egypt have a different definition of a secular state compared with liberal and leftist forces.

A secular state for non-Islamic forces in Egypt may mean a Copt taking the presidency, not mixing religion with politics, and the idea that all Egyptians are equal without regard to religion, colour or sex.

He said, "For the Salafists, the Gamaa Salafiya and others, the application of Islamic law is the priority above all, and it is the main objective behind the exercise of political power. Some Salafists never believed in democracy and political life from the beginning."

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  • READER COMMENTS

    حازموون

    2012-4-21

    God willing, Islam is coming.

  • تينا

    2011-9-11

    First, Salafis in Egypt have to work for the best interest of Egypt, not the best interest of this party. Second, the party systems that divided the country have to stop, because they are no longer good for anything except the best interests of the leaders of those parties and those who push the youth to fight and to commit massacres among each other while they sit in chairs and high positions, collecting money in the name of the party and religion. This of course includes the Salafi groups and the other parties. But the truth is that the money goes into private pockets. We have had enough of these parties, and the names they call themselves and the false unfounded claims they make. Egypt and its people need people to work on unifying Egyptians and bringing them together, rather than dividing them in foolish hidden ways under illusionary and false names that have nothing to do with religion in the first place. What’s the difference if work is being done for Egypt’s best interest, without groups having names, for example, and what’s wrong with everyone working together mutually to serve the country’s interests? Why couldn’t Egypt be like other countries, and I mean foreign countries in particular? Why do Arab countries always look for division, discrimination and sectarianism and being preoccupied with positions, chairs, money and personal interests? Why don’t we follow the example of others, so that Arabs can live under advanced conditions and their comfort would be provided in order for them to witness a golden era, and for everyone to work in cooperation and solidarity? Why are we always in a state of dreaming? Why can’t we apply this in reality? When will we realize the dream? When will we become real Muslims? When, you rulers and parties, will the dream come true and when will we move away from personal greed?

  • يوسف عطا الله

    2011-8-9

    What is happening in Egypt is dissension and chaos, and not democracy, as they perceive. The trial of Mubarak is an insult to the Egyptian people. Thus, you should fear God, you pharaohs. God is forgiving and merciful.

  • سلمى الرعد

    2011-8-9

    I advise the brotherly fellows who joined the Freedom and Justice Party to learn a lesson from the failed experience of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is distinct from the Brotherhood of Iraq. The latter got involved in the political process, which proved that they are weak people who seek only earthly gains, corruption with public funds and higher positions. In fact, they want to achieve such goals by all means, even at the expense of their creed and the values they have been preaching for forty years. Their words are a mere pretense. They seem to regret the years they spent worshiping Almighty God. The Iraqi Sunnis know much more in this respect.

  • المهاجر

    2011-8-9

    After the July Revolution, all political parties were dissolved with the exception of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, Brotherhood members were subjected to the harshest torture and arrest. Though the current revolution calls for confidence, it is still useful to be cautious.

  • راضي العيساوي

    2011-8-9

    I wish the Muslim Brotherhood the best of luck, and I hope that it will launch an effective opposition movement in the future. I also wish the best to the left-wing and liberal parties in the Egyptian elections. Mubarak was humiliated, the way he has been humiliating his people for thirty years. In fact, Egyptians have been suffering from poverty, humiliation, oppression, tyranny and the contempt of the ruling class. Mubarak has humiliating his people in Egypt and in all countries of the world. The Egyptian citizen was worthless in the era of Mubarak. On the other hand, Egyptian scientists, intellectuals and authors have all vanished during the era of this president. In the past, Egypt used to be the leader of all the Arab countries. However, during the rule of Mubarak, corruption became widespread and "artists" overtook the media and become too powerful.

  • افراح راشد

    2011-8-1

    Peace be upon you! I hope we all unite and support the honest man Essam Sharaf to achieve security and overcome this difficult time. Be careful, there are many traitors and they are financially supported by America and Israel to form political parties. They are the ones who say: “Give us the chance to establish our parties.”

  • محمد حقي

    2011-8-1

    I wish the youth who organized the sit-in would leave the Liberation Square so that the wheels of life could move forward. It is illogical to try to get rid of injustice that lasted for thirty years overnight. God created the earth in six days. Please, give a chance to the government to change the horrible past gradually. Please, dear youth, we are afraid of being like Syria or Libya. Fear God as to your country.

  • sba

    2011-7-29

    The Jihadi Salafi movement claims that it is following the concepts and ideas of the noble ancestors of the Islamic nation who lived during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, or that they are following the ways of the followers of those ancestors. Students of Islamic Arab history find that the followers of the Prophet, may peace be upon him, who are now known as the “righteous ancestors,” were people who were characterized by the generous Prophet’s morals, whose morals were the Quran and whose religion was the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice, in addition to obedience to God Almighty through the rightly guided religion of Islam that obligates humans to perform the duties of worship. His religion was also about good conduct with others, as he defined Muslims as those whose tongues and hands do not harm others. Today, in the middle of fights and disagreements over partial and secondary things, we have deemed it permissible to take each others’ lives in the name of religious fatwas, which are nothing but false interpretations of valid religious texts that consider the taking of people’s lives to be permissible to be one of the cardinal sins for God Almighty. Also, God Almighty judges on blood first, before anything else on the Day of Judgment. We might notice that some movements which have Islamic names today have common radical, fundamental ideas which do not believe in dialogue or in recognizing and respecting differing opinions. Instead, they want to forcibly impose their ideas and opinions on others. The governmental authorities need to fight such acts by spreading the awareness of moderate religions among the members of society, in order to fight the spread of such radical ideas in the country. These authorities should also warn against the threats of fundamentalism and terrorism, as they lead to attacking innocent people. This could be achieved by creating a comprehensive and effective operating mechanism which would contribute to creating a generation characterized by moderation, centrism, tolerance and the rejection of violence in all its different forms.

  • ayser

    2011-7-29

    Unfortunately, the verdict is unfair, because the party that used to work with Hosni Mubarak’s regime has nothing to do with the things that Hosni Mubarak used to do. In addition to that, they have a long experience with the conditions of Egypt and its needs in the administration of military affairs and other important things. I believe that the Egyptian judiciary somewhat rushed this issue. I hope they would take more time to better judge their situation. We want Egypt’s best interest; nothing more and nothing less. Here we are saying: O God, make the affairs of Egyptians easier, because, by God, they have suffered a lot. O God, make them happy throughout the upcoming days, to get a free, dignified life; Amen.

  • جمعه

    2011-7-29

    The Egyptian government made a decision to dissolve the National Democratic Party, which used to follow Mubarak and his government. This is the most wonderful thing that the court did, thank God. This is justice. We want to completely get rid of the reign of Hosni Mubarak, because it brings nothing but calamities. If some of them had remained, they would have been infiltrators, and the situation would be back to what it was before. We want to get rid of all these failing factions, and we do not want to remember any of them. The court made the most reasonable decision. Thank God the situation in Egypt is much better than before, and even better than it was after the revolution, as everything returned to its original place. The television and cultural acts, in addition to commerce, returned to the way they were before, thanks to the youth, who insisted on righteousness and who were determined to rid the people of the nightmare they had been living. They are now waiting only for the military trial of Hosni, who stole everything from the Egyptian people; their hopes, their money, their aspirations and the happy life they wished to have. However, thank God, everything is fine now and the situation is good, thank God.

  • lara

    2011-7-27

    The National Party is corrupt and spiteful, and I hate them because they have brought shame to the Egyptians. I do not want to see even one of them holding any positions in the next government, in order for it to be a clean government and free of criminals who steal people's money and lives. The Egyptian court has wisely decided to dissolve the National Party, which was under the control of Mubarak and his government, and this is a wonderful step by the court, thank God. This is justice. We want to get rid of Hosni Mubarak's rule forever, because it has brought nothing but calamities, and if some intriguers of this regime remain in power, they will work to restore the situation to be as it was before the revolution. We want to get rid of those cliques, and do not want to remember anything about them. The court has done the right thing, and the situation in Egypt is better than before and even better than after the revolution, where everything is returning to its original position, including cultural works and commercial activities. All this is thanks to the young people who insisted on their rights and strove to save the people from this nightmare. They are now waiting for the military trial of Hosni, who stole everything from the Egyptian people. We want to get rid of him and his party. I want to see them humiliated, because they have stolen the hopes of the poor Egyptian people, who have waited patiently for three decades and suffered from these tyrannical policies. But there is always a day of victory, and it has already come, and the Egyptians have achieved their aspirations, especially the young Egyptians, who have insisted on their stance to get rid of Mubarak's rule and its ruling party, because they were traitors, and if they are restored to power, they will do what they did in the past. I agree with the Supreme Court's decision to execute all members of the former ruling party in Egypt, in order to make this a lesson for those who want to adopt the same policy and to prevent the recurrence of all the crises that took place in Egypt. This will help Egypt lead a life of permanent peace and security, God willing.

  • saber

    2011-7-27

    May a thousand curses be upon the Salafist Jihadist Movement, which has aroused a lot of discord between many Arab countries. What happened in Jordan is not insignificant but, thankfully, the Jordanian authorities have arrested some of them. I hope they will be punished severely and I call on the Arab States to beware of this movement.

  • alghzaly

    2011-7-27

    We pray to God the most powerful, the Almighty and the avenger to take revenge on the oppressors of the so-called Jihadist Salafist Movement, who did their utmost to wreak havoc in the country and murder people. We also pray to God to send them a merciless person who would defeat them and overwhelm them with Your anger and hatred, so that they will be an example to the others who also know nothing about the teachings of Islam.

  • بيمان

    2011-7-27

    I am surprised at what is happening now in Egypt, this great country, and at the voices that have recently emerged, calling for freedom, democracy and tolerance and for arresting the sons of former President Hosni Mubarak, Alaa and Gamal. What did they do to deserve punishment and imprisonment? This is an insult to Egypt, because they are the sons of the President. Give me one Arab or foreign country where children of the president do not have any role or do not benefit from the power of their father. This is a reality in all countries, so why are we acting as if Alaa and Gamal are the only ones who broke the rules? In fact, they are, as I believe, better than anyone else, because they were working for the country's interests. They do not necessarily have the same ideas as their father, and there is absolutely no crime that they committed against any citizen; so why should we punish them? Or is it just to get revenge? We should know that God is watching us, and that you will suffer the consequences. I know that I will be criticized for saying this, but I am only telling the truth. We should be reasonable. We have achieved what we wanted, so we must forget about those things and turn to the building of our country. We should not let such things confuse us and cause us to deviate from the right path. What is the use of prosecuting them? Will it return Egypt to its previous status?

  • farah

    2011-7-27

    As an Egyptian citizen, I’m not satisfied with the resignation of this Party’s members, especially since its leaders have traveled outside the country. Others stayed at home, enjoying the money that was stolen from the poor people. In fact, I cannot forget the practices of these criminals or this corrupt Party that had false principles and goals. This Party didn’t respect the Egyptian citizens or the country. It also carried out crimes and torture in prisons against the youth. Thus, I call for preventing the leaders of this criminal Party from going abroad, in order for them to be punished for their crimes. After the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve this corrupt Party, it is important to bring these criminal leaders to trial, because they have stolen the country’s projects in order to achieve great wealth by spreading corruption in the country. Besides, they have received bribes in their offices. This caused a significant crisis in the country, which led to the suffering of poor people. In fact, one of the dogs of this criminal party was the reason behind the destruction of the country. In fact, this party has interfered in everything in the country, in order to dominate its destiny. Thus, it has affected many innocent people by applying nepotism and injustice. Thank God, today we have gotten rid of this Party forever. I don’t think that any Egyptian, even if he is crazy, will allow this criminal Party, which has false objectives and which includes corrupt leaders, to be formed again. In fact, this Party will be prevented from participating in the Egyptian government forever.

  • neeam

    2011-7-27

    The acts of the Salafist Jihadists can neither be neglected nor forgotten or forgiven, since they have killed many of the innocent sons of Iraq who have not harmed anyone or been aggressive against anyone. Thus, may God damn all such cowardly and brutal criminal groups, which do not know the true meanings of humanity and mercy and know nothing about the ethics of the tolerant Islam.

  • kefah

    2011-7-26

    The party is a terrorist, criminal party, and all its members are villains who do not liove Egypt and do not want the good of the country. Every one of them felt that he was a master of the poor Egyptian citizens who did not belong to this corrupt party. They did what they wanted, because they were members of the government's party. All corruption was a result of the ideas of this party and its absolute power that they got from Hosni Mubarak, who gave them all these powers, disregarding the people. They stole and looted, attacked young people, violated privacy, and took bribes against the interests of the ordinary people, who did not have the ability to change anything in the light of this injustice. Today, however, the people have cried out and made them know the value of the people. Those symbols of the former regime must be held strictly accountable by the Egyptian judiciary, along with all the members of the National Party and its leaders, so that every citizen can restore his rights, because they abused the innocent people who respected them, while they considered the citizens as nothing but an inferior class. God curse those who stole the people's money, leaving them starving with no jobs or housing. Their judgment will be severe in this world before the afterlife. I call for executing anyone who is proven to have killed citizens or assaulted their homes or privacy. Their money must be confiscated, because it is not theirs; it is the money of the poor people. This goes especially for the senior leaders, who stole money and made big fortunes through tricks, fraud and bribery. They must be prosecuted, and this is a popular demand.

  • arshed

    2011-7-26

    Thus, it is important to punish all those who have worked with the National Democratic Party. In fact, all the members and leaders must get their due punishment, because they have caused Egyptians’ suffering, especially in prisons. These prisons have witnessed torture, corruption, and violation of rights. Therefore I’m in favor of the Egyptian people whose rights have been stolen by these criminals. In fact, the leaders of this party have reached this situation due to their greed, corruption and weak souls. They have also forgotten all the citizens who want to live a good life in this country. In fact, they have been deprived of their most basic rights that have been stolen. And they have suffered and nobody has supported or heard them. Thus, punishing these criminals and regaining people’s rights must be achieved by the Egyptian Court, in order to punish those who have stolen people’s rights and who have forgotten their rights. In fact, if they are not punished on Earth, they will get a more severe punishment on God’s Day of Judgment. And all those who have oppressed people and have violated their rights will get severe torture, due to their violation of the Egyptians’ rights.

  • smah

    2011-7-26

    I do not believe that the system of elections that are being held is important. But the more important thing, whether secularists or liberals win in Egypt, is for everyone to put the best interest of the country before their eyes, above the best interest of all others. What happened should be the biggest lesson to be learned by all those who dare to do what the former government did. Also, there should be integrity and dedication in work, which are two idioms that are not only slogans to be cheered or to raise our voice and reflect to the world that Egypt has become free and democratic. Instead, they should be expressed through results and actual and real work, for the people of Egypt to feel true freedom and to have real democracy in Egypt. This will also help to provide all the needs of the Egyptians, and to get rid of poverty, hunger, unemployment, corruption and ignorance. Moreover, work must be done to provide services to Egyptian citizens that would constitute the real difference between the two governments or entities, parties or organizations. Therefore, everyone has to come together in solidarity, whether they win elections or not. One group should not stand in opposition of the other and declare war. On the contrary, everyone must help one another and support the people, thus contributing to the development of their country. Real freedom will then appear, and it will be clear who it is that has taken an honorable stance, proving that they do not care for positions, but rather they want to work and serve the Egyptian people, who have faced death to obtain their freedom. Those people have always lived under the control and dominance of the government, the parties and the organizations that offered nothing to the Egyptians. Only when there are elections will the work move forward to bring about the largest number of votes, as candidates will use the problem of poverty and the hunger of helpless Egyptians who can’t earn their living easily in order to win the election. Those Egyptians suffer from badly deteriorated conditions, negligence, shortcomings and the deceit of politicians. Freedom isn’t about sitting in an office through the elections; freedom is about living with the people, finding out what they need and helping them with it, and providing all they need to solve their problems.

  • المهندس المعماري

    2011-7-25

    May God curse the National Party that ruled Egypt during the tragic and lost years which were characterized by the use of iron and fire for thirty years. This fascist, dictatorial party imposed its domination and tyranny on the innocent. In fact, it made people live under the poverty line, due to its backward beliefs and flimsy slogans. These beliefs have caused destruction, famine, deprivation and misery. Thus, Egyptians suffered from pain and famine. May God curse this corrupt party and its despicable slogans. It was really a party based on stealing, conspiracy and looting. This party only included corrupt and suspicious members. So we hope that these criminal members and their leaders will be imprisoned, so that they will be exposed to the suffering and humiliation that they practiced against people during their regime. Today, after replacing these deviant and dirty members who have been imprisoned, I ask the leaders of the National Party in Egypt to punish these criminals by bringing them to justice, and especially the most criminal leader, Hosni Mubarak, who stole the country’s wealth; Ahmed Ezz, Gamal Mubarak, and the rest of the deviant members and leaders who caused the suffering and humiliation of Egyptians. These criminals mustn’t live in freedom and they must get their due punishment, in order to taste suffering, pain, and prison like the other free Egyptians. May God curse them, as well as their party and their followers. And we call for severe punishment for these criminals, because they must get their due punishment.

  • nadhim

    2011-7-23

    The Egyptian National Democratic Party which worked under the former regime, has been the reason for all the painful events that happened in Egypt. It is time for all its members, leaders and big figures to be fairly prosecuted so they can receive fair punishment for the acts they committed against the Egyptians, who suffered a lot because of them.

  • rani

    2011-7-23

    The Ruling National Party must be toppled, because it is a corrupt and a failed party that has carried out corruption, stealing ad degradation. In fact, it is a criminal party that only includes corrupt members who have stolen public money. They sent the party to the “Dustbin of History” with their actions. I ask the government to punish all its members and leaders for all their crimes against the Egyptians.

  • dream

    2011-7-23

    All those who love Egyptians pray for the stability of their country and I am one of those who pray to God so that the country can regain its stability. We ask God that He brings calm to this Arab country once again after it got rid of the dictatorial regime. And we hope that Egyptians enjoy peace and security in order to attain a normal life. May God help the Egyptians reassert their security, safety, and stability in order to get rid of this scourge. God is the most merciful.

  • خالد الصالح

    2011-7-23

    After the success of the revolution of the youth in Egypt, and now that things have settled down, it has become necessary to run free and fair elections, as an embodiment of the principles of the revolution and as a token of gratitude for the blood of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the revolution and to rid the country of injustice, oppression and abuse. People used to suffer from these conditions during the rule of the former regime. Thus, we have to prepare for the constitutional elections to elect a permanent government for the country. This government must be responsible for ruling the country by preventing opportunist members of the former regime from diverting the popular revolution and protecting it. I also hope that secularists will emerge victorious in the elections.

  • البرشلوني

    2011-7-22

    The National Democratic Party has fallen apart in Egypt and gone to the ash heap of history along with its supporters, because it is the party of the corrupt, the criminals and thieves; it is the party of the robbers, fools and bastards. We call for the trial of all its leaders and big members who looted the resources of the Egyptian people; they form an ugly criminal faction that is as ugly as this dictatorial party, because they are as vile as their vile party.

  • فارس ابوالنجا

    2011-7-7

    I wish that Egypt would be as one hand and one party, regardless of its identity, as long as it takes care of the people.

  • ahmed elpaz

    2011-7-1

    I support the Islamic parties in Egypt, especially the Al-Nour Party, because these parties preserve the identity of the state from the manipulation of the secularists and liberals, who follow Western ideologies.