CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is in the final stages of forming a political party, said Mohamed Habib, deputy head of the banned-but-tolerated group.
Habib told The Daily Star Egypt that the Brotherhood’s political committee is in the process of finalizing its charter, which will be announced in a matter of weeks.
According to a Jan. 13 interview with the Supreme Guide of the MB Mohammed Mahdi Akef in the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, the Brotherhood will not submit an application to the Shura Council’s (upper house of parliament) political parties committee to receive official party status.
He said the MB will circumvent the state so long as this “unconstitutional committee exists.
In a statement first published on the MB website, ikhwanonline.com, leading MB member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh said that the law regulating the formation of political parties should be renamed the “anti-party law and criticized the fact that the committee which screens party applications is dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party to subjugate all opposition.
He said the MB will simply inform the committee of its party’s establishment thereby circumventing the legal procedures towards official party status.
Abul Fotouh’s statements came after a Supreme Administrative court upheld on Jan. 6 a ruling issued by the political parties committee rejecting the applications of 12 groups for official recognition and status.
The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the 12 groups fell short of meeting new requirements to set up political parties in Egypt.
The rules require any party to obtain at least 1,000 signatures from its founding members to gain recognition.
At least 50 signatures should come from members in each of 10 provinces nationwide.
After the ruling some of the founders of El-Wasat El-Gadid (The New Medium) and El- Karama El-Arabia (Arab Dignity), two of the 12 rejected groups, demonstrated in front of the court to denounce the verdict.
In Egypt, no party can be legally established without the approval of the political parties committee of the Shoura Council – the upper house of parliament.
The Supreme Administrative Court is the last step in the process of forming a political party. The court s decision is final and there is no other side or organization capable of challenging it.
Mahmoud Ezzat, secretary general of the Brotherhood, told The Daily Star Egypt that the idea of establishing a political party is nothing new. We have wanted to do that for a while and many attempts have been made before.
Ezzat says establishing a party should put to rest allegations made by politicians and intellectuals that the group has been vague on major political issues such as whether an MB party will be civil or religious, and if Copts will be allowed to join.
Diaa Rashwan, political analyst at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and an expert on Islamic movements, supports the MB’s right to establish a political party.
The Brotherhood’s demands should be accepted because they represent the Islamic current which has official representations in all Arab countries but Egypt, he added.
Rashwan regards the group as an Islamist power, not an extremist one, and believes the MB will not base their charter on religion.
I have access to a proposal by the Muslim Brotherhood to change its laws and its basic premise. It says no political party should be based on religion, Rashwan added.
It seems the government is against nationalists, politicians and everyone else, not only the Brotherhood, Rashwan said.
MB group members have always been at odds with the government and security forces; they are constantly at risk of detention for belonging to a banned organization.
On Sunday, Egyptian security forces arrested five members of the group.