Abu Hamed launches new ‘civil, liberal’ party

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By Heba Fahmy

CAIRO: MP and former leading member of the Free Egyptians Party, Mohamed Abu Hamed, announced Wednesday the launch of his new party Hayat Al-Masriyeen.

Abu Hamed described the party as a “civil, liberal” party, which didn’t oppose religion or citizenship, adding that religion shouldn’t be mixed with politics.

“This would cause damage to both politics and religion, as some parties impose the sanctity of religion on their political programs, so it looks like those who oppose their political programs as if they oppose religion itself,” Abu Hamed explained.

“Historically, political powers that used religion in politics have distorted many religious values,” he added.

Abu Hamed said that his party would work with religious scholars to develop a religious discourse that would unite the Egyptian people.

The MP said that the liberal parties have been under fire from Islamist parties ever since the 18-day revolt, pushing them on the defensive.

“Liberal parties have been forced to avoid using terms like civil and liberal and replacing them with democratic and so on…we as a party we will never be forced to do that, we know who we are,” he said.

The party is still under construction. Abu Hamed plans to apply for an official license after three months with 5,000 members. A total of 75 percent of the party’s members will be youth.

The remaining 25 percent will include older calibers such as academics, syndicate leaders and workers.

He acknowledged that the party would have no real influence for one year, until it trains and establishes its members on its political program and objectives.

He pointed out that all liberal parties on the scene failed to compete with the Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Al-Nour Party which dominate parliament.

Abu Hamed, notorious for fiery comments at the parliament and controversial media statements, had resigned from the Free Egyptians Party, founded by business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, earlier last month. His new party’s logo isn’t much different from the FEP’s.

The MP said that he maintained a strong friendship with Sawiris and other FEP members, adding that he resigned due to difference viewpoints on how to run the party.

“I resigned when I realized that I couldn’t perform the role I wished and I couldn’t serve the party’s team,” he said.

Abu Hamed denied that he was eyeing this round of the presidential election, saying that he is 39, one year younger than the stipulated minimum age, according to the law.

“I’ve said on several occasions that I would’ve run in the presidential elections if this guideline wasn’t an obstacle, not because I seek power but because I have a clear vision that I wish to implement,” he said.

His party might back one of the presidential candidates on the scene after they hold a meeting, one week before the election slated for May 23-24.

After six months, the party’s members would increase to 500,000. After two years, Abu Hamed expects membership to reach 1.5 million.

He stressed that his new party wouldn’t revolve around any “celebrities,” but middle class Egyptians and youth, who best represent the Egyptian people.



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