Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Maher Farghali
Maher Farghali

Islamist parties' programs: More slogans than content

Thursday 14/November/2019 - 04:49 PM
Egypt's Islamist parties do not have clear-cut programs. They speak only about generalities. 
Some Salafist parties emerged after the downfall of the Hosni Mubarak regime in 2011. Most of these parties did not want to work together. Their founders could not merge them into each other with the aim of opening the door for the emergence of one strong political party. 
Each group of Salafists asked its followers to sign powers of attorney for the formation of a political party. At the end, we had a large number of political parties that have almost identical programs. Here is a list of the Salafist parties:
1 – Al-Nour Party
It was the first Salafist party to be founded in Egypt. The party was formally announced on June 12, 2011. 
The party started in the northwestern coastal province of Marsa Matruh, only a day after Mubarak stepped down. 
Leading Salafist preacher Mohamed Hassan called on the Salafists to become more politically involved. He also called them to field candidates in elections. 
On May 24, 2011, party founder, Emad Abdel Ghaffar, said al-Nour would call for founding a modern state in Egypt, one that respects peaceful coexistence among Egyptians. He added that his party would also call for the political process to be governed by the rules of Islamic law. 
A day later, the Arabic language daily, Ahram, quoted one of al-Nour's founders as saying that the party would work to become the largest political party in Egypt. 
2 – Al-Fadila Party
This was the second Salafist party to be founded in Egypt. Party founders succeeded in collecting more than 5,000 powers of attorney for the licensing process. 
There were efforts to merge al-Fadila into the Safety and Development Party which was founded by Islamist leader Kamal Habib. Nevertheless, reports in this regard were refuted by a party founder later. 
Adel Abdel Maqsoud, a former police general, was selected to be the head of the party. This man is a brother of Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, a leading Salafist figure now living in Turkey. 
3 – Al-Asalah Party
Rifts within al-Fadila party encouraged Adel Abdel Maqsoud to found al-Asalah Party. The party had a long list of supporters, including Hassan.
Abdel Maqsoud said divisions emerged inside al-Fadila Party after some founding members tried to change its course. 
4 – Al-Islah Party
Hesham Mustafa Abdel Aziz founded this party. He refuses to classify his party as an Islamist one. Abdel Aziz also tries to propose solutions to Egypt's social problems. 
Nevertheless, al-Islah is a political social party that works to formulate a vision for a state with an Islamic background. The party contains female members. 
5 – Construction and Development Party
This is the party of Jama'a Islamiya in Egypt which launched a bloody war against the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak. The group then approved an initiative for renouncing violence. 
Glittering slogans, but no programs
The Islamist parties agree in that they do not have real platforms. Nonetheless, almost all parties adopt a set of slogans, including the protection of Egypt's Islamic identity and fighting corruption. 
The sure thing is that these parties had failed in applying the same slogans to themselves. 
"These parties are about slogans, not programs," writer Kamel Rahouma told The Reference. 
Islamic law present, economy absent
The need for abiding by Islamic laws is a common feature of all the programs of the Islamist parties. Nonetheless, the same programs show total disregard for the economy. 
Islamist affairs specialist, Osama al-Hatimi attributed this to the fact that most of the leaders of the Islamist parties that emerged after 2011 had never been involved in political before. 
"This was why the programs of the parties were general and did not care about the economic and political problems of society," al-Hatimi said.