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Muslim Brotherhood to pursue legal political party status
The banned-but-tolerated Muslim Brotherhoods (MB) group stated in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that they intended to establish a licensed political party. During the same event, MB members promised to obstruct the pending constitutional amendments and do their best to prevent them from going into effect in every possible legal way in the People’s Assembly. "It is the right fo
Tuesday, January 2,2007 00:00
by Yasmine Saleh, Daily Star

The banned-but-tolerated Muslim Brotherhoods (MB) group stated in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that they intended to establish a licensed political party.

During the same event, MB members promised to obstruct the pending constitutional amendments and do their best to prevent them from going into effect in every possible legal way in the People’s Assembly.

"It is the right for all political parties and powers to create official parties," said Gamal Eid, president of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Not only should the MB have a political party, but also any other religion or ideology should have the same space to build its own party, Eid added.

"Yes, sure and why not," said Gamal El Bana, an Islamic intellectual and writer, "and Copts should make one too," he added.

"If Egyptians want to set up a political party in Egypt, no one should stop them. I am with freedom and democracy all the way and I see the freedom of creating a political party a holy thing," El Bana added.

El Bana hopes that the government will not stand against the freedom of creating political parties, "as the alternative will be secret parties."

President Hosni Mubarak’s suggested changes give more space to parties based on political ideologies but diminishes the role of independents, which, according to Diaa Rashwan, political analyst at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, are the majority of Egyptians and majority of nominated candidates in the parliament.

Mubarak’s suggestion to change Articles 1 and 5 in the constitution has raised fears that the organization may be abolished.

If the president’s suggestions are carried as announced, Article 1 would state that all citizens have the right to be represented without racial, gender or religious differentiation.

Article number five would directly outlaw the existence of any party based on racial, gender or religious ideologies.

Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, NDP member of parliament, said that the changes made to these two articles are not the only stipulations restricting the presence of a party based on religion, race or gender. He said "The original constitution had in its context what already prevents that."

"The Muslim Brotherhood group did not even suggest a name to their party yet. Or shall they use their original name?" Kwaitah asked.

In 1996, former MB members, some Christians and female members, created a political party called “Al Wasat” on a moderate Islamic base. The idea was to create an intermediate party that includes a cross section of society and face discrimination in Egyptian political life. 

Few months after the party was set up, the government detained the chairman, two of the founders and 13 members of the MB. They all faced charges of trying to create a political front to a banned group: The Muslim Brotherhood.

That same year, the political parties committee in the Shura Council denied the party a license.

The party founders filed several lawsuits to contest the decision and reestablish itself, the last hearing of which took place in June, all to no avail.


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