By Mina Ibrahim
The first round of the 2015 Egyptian parliamentary elections will be held in 14 governorates in one week. While all political parties and independent candidates are currently occupied with campaigning their programmes on streets and through media agencies, Al-Nour Party is facing a critical problem concerning its identity.
A member of the party’s Presidential Council, Salah Abed El-Maksood, told Daily News Egypt on Saturday that Al-Nour Party is completely different from Al-Da’wa Al-Salafia (Salafist Call). “Al-Nour is a political party but Al-Da’wa is a religious movement. Each has its own members and board of directors,” he said.
El-Maksood believes that people who insist on merging both entities into one aim to weaken the party’s popularity before the coming elections.
Another member of the council, Ashraf Sabet, had also emphasised last Wednesday that the national stance of the party did not change since its establishment following the 2011 uprisings.
Through a televised interview, Sabet stated that the party’s political programme “promotes the establishment of a modern Egyptian state that integrates all its citizens”, criticising those who accuse the Al-Nour Party of mixing religion with politics.
“The party is keen on not using religious slogans within its political campaigns. I ask media agencies not to focus on ‘individual mistakes’ that previously occurred,” Sabet said.
In the 2012 parliament, that was later dissolved through a court decision, a number of Al-Nour Party members, who had acquired 96 seats (29%) of the 332 seats allocated for party lists, refused to stand-up when the national anthem was played during the opening session of the parliament.
Moreover, during the same session, other party members separately added the phrase “without contradicting the law of God” to the official oath of the parliament that requires them to respect the Egyptian constitution and the country’s laws.
In response to Sabet’s statement, Mohamed Attiya, coordinator of “No to Religious Parties” Campaign, told Daily News Egypt on Saturday that the “real identity of Al-Nour Party, in addition to other 10 Islamist parties, has become clear to Egyptians”.
Attiya noted that the campaign will organise events in the coming few days before elections to expose how “the actions of Al-Nour Party are inconsistent with what they say”.
He also stated that high-ranking members from the party participated in the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Nahda Square sit-in during and after the 30 June demonstrations that ended the Brotherhood rule.
On 3 July, 2013, Head of Al-Nour Party, Younes Makhyoun, appeared on television next to Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who was minister of defence at the time, when he declared Mohamed Morsi’s removal from his post.
Following this political change, however, Al-Nour Party was accused of continuing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, and of being supporters of their political objectives, which decrease the chances of establishing an “Egyptian civil state”.