Political powers gear up for Ramadan, prepare for elections

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CAIRO: Political parties are implementing special programs for Ramadan expressing fears that the Islamic stream might use the holy month to amplify its influence.


Planned activities include public meetings in governorates to introduce the political programs and party candidates, charity work and distributing food bags.

"Ramadan this year will be more political than previous ones and it is an opportunity for religious streams to use mosques heavily for publicity," said Basel Adel, member of the leadership council of the Free Egyptians Party.

Adel said that they will be focusing their activities in governorates through iftar banquets and setting up tents to sell commodities at lower prices. He added that party members will join the traditional religious festivities.

"We are civil parties and believe that mosques are not a place for politics," he said.

Senior level meetings have been taking place at the headquarters of many political parties to discuss their Ramadan programs in preparation for legislative elections slated for November.

The Revolution Youth Coalition along with 25 groups and parties who were participating at the sit-in in Tahrir Square said that although they suspended their sit-in they will hold regular activities including the "Ramadan Revolutionary Tent" in solidarity with the martyrs’ families.

They also intend to organize a weekly event to name and shame officers accused of killing protesters during the 18-day uprising in their areas of residence and in front of police stations where they work, in a campaign titled "We Will Get Them."

"We are planning to be on the streets outside Tahrir Square and raise awareness in new and creative ways," said Mohamed Adel, spokesman of the April 6 Youth Movement.

The Justice Party said it will be organizing medical caravans, training courses and funding small projects as well as holding public meetings.

"We believe in social development, rather than charity work, as part of our public work and consider it to be every party member’s duty," said Ahmed Shokry, founder of the party.

On the other hand, Emad Abdel Ghaffour, founder and head of the salafi Al-Nour Party, denied that they will be counting on religious mantras to for political ends in Ramadan.

"We know that it is illegal to use religious publicity in politics and we will abide by the law,” he said. “Although I am a religious scholar, I won’t be preaching this year.”

"There are some political streams that are trying to marginalize us and are playing with fire with these accusations," Abdel Ghaffour added.

Al-Nour is organizing public conferences and sports activities, as well as joint iftars with other political groups for reconciliation.

Other political powers said they won’t be able to organize any activities because they haven’t established headquarters in governorates yet due to lack of financial resources.

"We are still collecting proxies and have one headquarter so we hope next year we can outline our activities’ program for Ramadan," said Abdel Ghaffar Shokr, leader at the Popular Coalition Socialist Party.

Shokr said that members will be holding individual meetings with families in rural areas promoting the party and are yet to decide on the possibility of contesting the elections.

Parties said that they aren’t able to launch publicity campaigns for their candidates as the constituencies are yet to be announced. However, they will start publicizing the parties’ programs.

"We will gradually promote the party and then the candidates," Adel said.

Liberal powers are set to establish this week a coalition comprising parties that believe in a civil state as opposed to Islamic streams who are calling for an Islamic state.




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