Court decides on legitimacy of ’religiously-affiliated parties’

Menna Zaki
4 Min Read

The Alexandria Urgent Matters Court started looking on Wednesday into a lawsuit filed by Tarek Mahmoud, legal advisor for the Popular Front against the “Brotherhoodisation” of Egypt.

Mahmoud’s lawsuit, filed under Article 74 of the constitution, calls for the dissolution of all political parties founded on a religious basis.

This article states that all citizens have the right to form political parties as regulated by law, but adds: “No political activity may be practiced and no political parties may be formed on the basis of religion or discrimination based on sex, or origin, or on sectarian basis or geographic location.”

It also constitutes that “no activity that is hostile to democratic principles, secretive, or of military or quasi-military nature may be practiced.”

Mahmoud stated in his lawsuit that eleven political parties including Al- Nour Party, Al-Asala party, Building and Development Party, Al-Islah wa Al- Nahda , Misr Al-Qawia, and Al-Wasat party are all established on religious basis which contradicts the constitution.

The urgency in this case however is justified by the “imminent danger” facing the nation in case members of the mentioned parties run for the parliamentary elections. The lawsuit also expressed concern over the part they may play in legislative authority which “will form a serious threat on the country”.

The lawsuit proceeds to say that the mentioned parties “exploit religion to reach their goals, and some of them believe that what happened in Egypt was a military coup.”

In addition, the lawsuit added that if parliamentary seats were taken by these parties, they will subject the parliament to the risk of being “unconstitutional”. This may create the possibility of its dissolution as well.

Alaa Essam, Al-Tagammu Party attorney, said that the party is supporting any lawsuit against the religious parties in a political disguise.

In case the lawsuit was rejected, it is expected that these parties will gain very little public support, winning no more than 20% of seats, said Essam.

Ahmed Imam, a Misr Al-Qawia (Strong Egypt Party) spokesman, said the party was established based under Article 2 of the constitution, which declares Islam to be the state religion, and that “it’s not a religious party”. He said the claim was filed without previous knowledge of the nature of the party.

Imam added that he expects the lawsuit to be rejected, as the party operates according to the law.

Sayed Khalifa, vice president of Al-Nour Party, said a party established on a religious basis and which discriminates between people according to their religion, sex or sectarian basis. He added that this is not the case with the Al-Nour Party.

Khalifa noted that the legislation in Egypt as constituted by the law has to be based on religion.

However, Amira Al Adly, a member of the supreme committee of Free Egyptians Party, said the establishment of parties on religious basis is prohibited by the constitution. She added that she supports the lawsuit as she is against the exploitation of religion.

Al Adly noted that Free Egyptians Party’s principals are based on the establishment of a civil state rather than on a religious basis.

Mahmoud said that the case was postponed until the first of October to involve the chairman of the Supreme Elections Committee that will oversee the upcoming parliamentary elections.

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