By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt’s largest opposition group, will establish a political party named Freedom and Justice, senior member Essam El-Erian told Daily News Egypt Tuesday.
“The MB has assigned the specialized institutions inside the group to form the party’s bylaws and principles before taking the necessary legal procedures,” he added.
The group’s previous attempts to be officially recognized were denied by the authorities since the group has been officially banned since 1954 and a recent constitutional amendment prohibits the formation of religion-based parties. Copts are also not permitted to establish political parties.
“This is the best time to establish political parties in Egypt in light of the January 25 Revolution, regardless of parliamentary elections,” El-Erian argued.
The MB will allow all segments of Egyptian society, including Coptic Christians, to join the party.
“Even if the party is based on religious principles, are Christians against Islam?” El-Erian asked. “But the party is civil and all Egyptians who accept its program and orientations are welcome to join.”
Amr Hashim, senior researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, believes that welcoming Copts into the MB party is a “good sign, as long as the party is not based on sectarian or military principles.”
Hashim is not concerned about the Brotherhood’s dominance in Egypt.
“At the end, ballot boxes will be the judge,” Hashim said.
The Brotherhood was not the first to announce its intention to form a party.
Amr Hamzawy, a political science professor and a research director and senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said in recent statements that that he had been working on founding a liberal party that aims to revive political life in Egypt.
“I anticipate that in the near future forming a new party will be through informing a neutral entity, probably judicial, rather than seeking a license,” Hashim said.
On Saturday, a moderate Islamic group that has been seeking an official license to operate for 15 years, was granted recognition by an Egyptian court in a sign of increasing political openness after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
Al-Wasat Party is a splinter group from the MB which was founded in 1996 to create a political movement promoting a tolerant version of Islam with liberal tendencies. Its attempts to be registered officially were rejected four times, most recently in 2009. –Additional reporting by AP