A controversial ruling by the Administrative Judiciary court on Saturday compelled the Political Parties Affairs Commission to revise the constitutionality and legality of 11 parties with religious bases.
The decision has drawn varying reactions from politicians and activists.
The court ruled on a lawsuit by constitutional expert and lawyer Essam El-Islamboly that was based on a report drafted by the lawyer to the commission, demanding the dissolution of the 11 parties in question. The report was supported by documents that claim the parties’ programmes include items that violate the constitution.
The commission did not respond to the report, and subsequently El-Islamboly filed the case and the court accepted it.
“This is a victory for the ‘No to Religious Parties’ campaign and we thank Mr. El-Islamboly for filing the lawsuit,” said Mohamed Al-Houty, head of the campaign that kicked off in August demanding the dissolving of the parties with religious bases.
Al-Houty told Daily News Egypt Sunday that the parties in questions did not comply with all the legal regulations, citing the religious bases of the parties’ programmes and discriminatory selection criteria for their members and leaders.
Egypt’s constitution states that it is illegal to form political parties with religious bases, or based on discrimination according to gender, race or according to sectarian or geographical bases. It also asserts that “political parties are not to be disassembled except after a court order is issued”.
“What we provided in documents that cite sectarian and discriminatory practices by these parties will convince the commission to recommend dissolving them,” Al-Houty said.
The parties in the court ruling included the Al-Nour, Al-Wasat, Misr Al-Qawiya,Building and Development and Al-Watan parties.
Of the parties that are now in danger of a possible dissolution, Al-Wasat Party is a main candidate. A party that describes itself as a civil party with an Islamic reference, Ahmed Maher, the spokesman of the party believes that such parties are the target of a deliberate campaign that he described as the “debauchery of political animosity”.
Maher told Daily News Egypt his party supports the state’s civility, asserting that the party, along with the other parties with Islamic references, are keen on separating preaching from politics. “Our programme and activities are transparent,” he said.
With a court ruling, the commission will have to respond to the demands, but expectations are unclear. “We cannot make expectations, if the commission inspected the issue with neutrality it will find that this is all a media show that has no basis in reality,” Maher concluded.
Previous lawsuits demanding the dissolution of parties with religious bases failed to result in rulings on the issue. The only party of a religious nature that was dissolved was the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) which was the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the dissolving of the FJP could be related to the ouster of the Brotherhood government from power, rather than the religious agenda adopted by the party.