Abd-al-Fattah stated that the separation of some Salafis from call activity and their engaging in soft extension by forming political parties was an attempt to harvest political gains and an attempt to get the greatest portion of th ese gains after the revolution. This could be done by getting into the makeup of the coming parliament in exchange for their backing the presidential candidate supported by the authorities.
As for Copts joining the Salafi Al-Nur Party, Abd-al-Fattah expressed the view that a few marginal Copts had joined the party either to find out what was taking place inside it or in their capacity as a minority. Their joining the party would lead to their taking possession of designated positions inside it. He indicated that the presence of women as half the members of the party was quite natural, given that women wearing the niqab [a full veil] were part of the Salafi movement; they would exploit their presence in the party to call on other women and persuade them to put on the niqab and join the party.
Abd-al-Fattah criticized the platform of the Al-Nur Party and description by some people as middle-of-the-road and moderate. He indicated that the problem did not have to do with the platform, its language, or its interpretation; the standard for measuring such religious groups was actual performance.
Abd-al-Fattah was afraid that the founding of the Al-Nur Party would lead to an Islamic duo's dominating in attracting the public. The Muslim Brotherhood, with its Freedom and Justice Party, and the Salafis with their two parties, Al-Nur and Al-Fadilah, would seek to enroll a large number of Egyptians. That, he indicated, would lead to the liberal forces' coalescing with each other in order to confront the dual Islamic forces, the Brotherhood and the Salafis.
Abd-al-Fattah stated that the Al-Nur Party would demand changes in certain provisions of international agreements against discrimination and international agreements on children's rights. They would argue that Mubarak had approved of them and that they countenance fornication and homosexuality. He indicated that although Egypt had not approved of these provisions, the Salafis would try to stir up controversies about the agreements as a way to rein in women's freedom in the coming period, despite the fact that their own Salafi women had joined the Al-Nur Party.
[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Wafd in Arabic -- Opposition New Wafd Party's daily newspaper; usually highlights statements of the party's leader and criticizes the government.]
Egypt: Salafi Trend Spokesman Welcomes Decision to Establish Political Party
GMP20110613825012 London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic 13 Jun 11
[Report by Walid Abd-al-Rahman, from Cairo: "'Al-Nur' the First Salafi Party Established in Egypt that Includes Christians"]
Nearly four months after the fall of the regime of Egypt's former President Husni Mubarak, which was known for its hard-line attitude toward the Islamists, the Salafi Trend has established an official political party under the name of Al-Nur [The Light] Party. This is considered by Shaykh Abd-al-Mun'im al-Shahhat, official spokesman of the Salafi Trend in Egypt, as a historic turning point in the relations between the Salafis and the society, and the real beginning of the Salafi Trend.
Al-Shahhat has said to Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the Political Parties Affairs Commission by approving the party has proved that it is not the heir to the previous regime.
An official statement by the Political Parties Affairs Commission, chaired by Justice Kamal Nafi, has said that the notice, which was submitted on 24 May of the establishment of the Al-Nur Party as the first Salafi party to be established in Egypt by Imad-al-Din Abd-al-Ghafur, representative of the founders of the party, has been accepted. The statement points out that the Al-Nur Party, in the light of the acceptance of the notice of its founding, has become a legal entity, and has the right to practice its political activities as from the day following the issuing of the decision on 13 June 2011.
Samih al-Jazzar, official in charge of Al-Nur Party in Cairo, has expressed his happiness with the ratification of the Party. Al-Jazzar has said to Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the Al-Nur Party will convene a press conference to present its steps in the upcoming stage with regard to the parliamentary and presidential elections.
This is not the first time that a tendency affiliated to the Islamists has applied for a license for a party for political action. Former members of the Muslim Brotherhood have acquired an official party under the name of Al-Wasat Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood officially acquired the license for the Freedom and Justice Party. This has aroused apprehensions about the Islamists ascending to power, which is the scarecrow used frequently by the previous regime, whether with the international powers abroad or with some of the constituents of the Egyptian society at home, especially the Christians and some secular and left-wing powers. This has motivated the Islamists to declare in many of their stances the form of the state they aspire for in Egypt of the future, and their real stance toward the hegemony over the decision-making in the country.
It is worth noting that in Egypt there are some 24 small parties none of which represents any threat worth mentioning to the former ruling National Democratic Party, which the authorities decided to dissolve about a month ago, and which was chaired by Mubarak for some 30 years until his regime was toppled on 11 February 2011.
In their turn, the members of the Salafi trend always stress that the state they aspire for is "a democratic civil state with Islamic authority," and that they do not aspire to assume power, they do not want either the presidency or posts, and they do not pursue achieving a majority in parliament, but they aspire for comprehensive reform in the political, economic, social, scientific, educational, and media fields, and in all aspects of life.
The Salafi trend has participated in the continuation of the protests in the country, and Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Jihad, and the Islamic Group in addition to the Salafis, have acquired a scope for working in the street that was not available under Mubarak's rule. Also, many of these tendencies have announced their intention to establish parties with religious authority, a matter that has worried a wide sector of the Christian Egyptians, especially after this took place simultaneously with calls for applying the Islamic Shari'ah and with attacks against churches.
These worries are rejected by Imad Abd-al-Ghafur, representative of the founders of the Salafi Al-Nur Party, who stresses the need to guarantee the religious freedom of the Christians, and t heir right to arbitrate to their religion in the issues of creed and in the issues in which there is a difference in rulings between their religion and the Islamic Shari'ah, and also he stresses the need to establish a modern state on modern bases, and to reject the model of the religious state.
Within this context, Shaykh Al-Shahhat has said to Al-Sharq al-Awsat: "Despite the fact that Al-Nur Party has a Salafi background, the representative of the founders of the party does not like this description, and leans toward presenting Al-Nur Party as an Egyptian party for all the Egyptians, and considers the party as another turning point in the relations between the Salafis and the society, and in the society's feeling that the Salafis offer comprehensive social solutions through a group of experts, each in his field, while adhering to the Islamic identity." Al-Shahhat stresses that yesterday [the day of approving the application] represents a real beginning.
With regard to the transformation in the policy of the Salafi Trend toward approving the formation of political parties, the spokesman of the Salafi Trend in Egypt comments by saying: "Previously we announced that we would not establish political parties, but we invited those concerned with politics, who are convinced of the Salafi ideology, to establish parties. We have learned that a very large number have been thinking of establishing parties, with Al-Nur Party at their forefront. We still are waiting to see whether the rest of the groups will join it, or will establish other parties. This is an issue on which we restrict ourselves to watching."
Al-Shahhat adds: "Before addressing the invitation to form parties, we have said that the reality on the ground has changed, and the fatwa now is to participate. Otherwise, we would not have addressed the invitation to form parties."
With regard to the participation of the Salafi Trend in the parliamentary and the presidential elections, Al-Shahhat points out that the basic fact of the existence of a party means that it participates in the elections process; however, whether it will or will not have a candidate, this is another issue. He points out that there is a commitment by the Islamist tendency, at least the major currents, not to present a presidential candidate; "as for the parliamentary elections, we will participate in them."
With regard to Christians joining the Salafi Al-Nur Party, Al-Shahhat says: "The presence of some Christians, who respect their covenant with the Muslims, and who consider that the Muslims have the right to have their Shari'ah as the ruling one, and their identity as the prevalent one, is something that undoubtedly calls for being happy with them and for welcoming them, and not otherwise." Al-Shahhat points out that Christians joining an Islamist party is some kind of this recognition.
[Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat.com/]
TV Channel To Be Established To Promote US-Jailed Egyptian Clerics Case
GMP20110624825002 London Al-Quds al-Arabi Online in Arabic 24 Jun 11
[Report from Cairo by Muhammad Nasr Karrum: A Word of Truth Is the Name of a Satellite Television Channel Intended to Pressure the United States to Release the Spiritual Father of the Egyptian Islamic Group]
The family of Dr Umar Abd-al-Rahman, professor of exegesis [of the Koran] -- who is serving a life sentence in the United States after he was charged with involvement in the bombing of the World Trade Center's Northern Tower in 1993 -- announced the establishment of a satellite television channel titled "A Word of Truth." It is the title of Dr Umar Abd-al-Rahman's most famous book. Dr Umar uttered this phrase during his trial before the Higher State Security -- Emergency-- Court back in 1981 in connection with the "major jihad" case following the assassination of the late President Anwar al-Sadat.
Ammar, Dr Umar Abd-al-Rahman's youngest son, told Al-Quds al-Arabi that the channel will work to support and activate Dr Umar's cause at the local, regional, and international level. He said the channel will present his case in detail from all its aspects and will respond to all suspicions about him, such as the charge that he is a terrorist, that he advocates terrorism, and that he supports violence and killing of innocent people, and the other charges that were leveled at him.
He added that the channel will work to provide information on him, highlight the humanitarian aspects of his personality, present all his recordings of the Koran, recordings of the prophet's tradition as narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, his speeches, lessons, conferences, seminars, television, radio, and press interviews, all his books and writings, and his meetings with his students in Egypt and world states.
Ammar said the channel will also speak in detail about the Islamic Group, adopt the causes of all wronged people everywhere, activate and discuss their cases, and try to end the injustices done to them. He added that it will be an Islamic-political-social and also entertainment channel. He noted that preparations for the channel are currently in progress through the completion of the legal and technical procedures, choosing the working crew, and preparing programs and other material.
Commenting on the channel's sources of funding, Ammar said it will be funded by the family of Dr Umar and a number of investors and businessmen, some of whom are donors and others are investing their money in the channel. Most of them are of Islamic inclinations, he noted.
Ammar refused to disclose these financers' names until all the work has been completed. He said he will open the door to the funding of Dr Umar's channel because he is one of the symbols of Islam and must be supported in his ordeal. He added that efforts must be made for his release and return to his country. He noted that anyone who wants to support the channel and back his father will be welcome.
On a related issue, Ammar said his father staged a hunger strike for three days after the US authorities prevented him from calling his family in the set dates because the family held protests outside the US Embassy in Cairo. He added that, after the three-day hunger strike, the US authorities responded and allowed him to call his family.
During his phone call, Dr Umar said he is very happy with the situation in Egypt and that he hopes for the best, but complained of bad treatment in US jails, Ammar said.
Ammar Umar Abd-al-Rahman said the US Embassy in Cairo announced that it is in the process of taking legal measures for the release of his father. On the other hand, he added, the interior minister, Major General Mansur al-Isawi, announced that he would welcome Dr Umar's return to Egypt, that they have no objection to his return, and that no one will be excluded at all, given the new situation in the country after the 25 January revolution.
Ammar said the Islamic Group put Shaykh Abbud al-Zumar in charge of the security file and that he is the person who talks to security officials on several cases, including his father's. He added that Al-Zumar spoke with a number of officials, including the interior ministe r, on this issue.
Ammar said they have great hope that the military council and the council of ministers will put an end to his father's ordeal and work for his return to his country because they will not accept any more injustice to him for he is an old and sick man.
[Description of Source: London Al-Quds al-Arabi Online in Arabic -- Website of London-based independent Arab nationalist daily with strong anti-US bias. URL: http://www.alquds.co.uk/]
Egyptian Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah Leader Praises Interior Ministry's Efforts
GMP20110617825005 London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic 17 Jun 11
[Report by Muhammad Abd-al-Ra'uf: "Abbud al-Zumar Meets With Interior Minister, Calls To Give Time to Army, Sharaf's Government; Umar Abd-al-Rahman's Family Signals Staging of Sit-In Outside US Embassy, Denies His Association With Al-Zawahiri"]
In an unprecedented step, Shaykh Abbud al-Zumar, a prominent member of the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah's [Islamic Group] leadership, met with Egyptian Interior Minister General Mansur al-Isawi for the first time since his [Al-Zumar's] release in March. This was after spending 30 years in Egyptian prisons against the background of his conviction for planning the assassination of late President Anwar al-Sadat.
Following the meeting, which took place two days ago, Al-Zumar praised General Al-Isawi's patriotism, keenness for reform, careful listening to demands, and objectivity in addressing problems. He pointed out to Al-Sharq al-Awsat that: "the meeting touched on the need to pursue all means to achieve a bright future for Egypt in view of the participation of all the political forces in building Egypt without the exclusion of any political faction." He added: "The slogan 'Egypt First' prevailed over the meeting, which stressed that the role of the Interior Ministry in the future will be to protect Egypt and the will of the masses in choosing whoever and whatever they want. The meeting also emphasized the need to confront the real threats that Egypt is facing, such as sectarian sedition, corruption, thuggery, drugs, and espionage."
The Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah's leading figure called on all the shades of the Egyptian society's spectrum to give Dr Isam Sharaf's government the opportunity to work for the sake of Egypt, and to create the suitable atmosphere for the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces to run the affairs of the country. He said that: "this is in order for us to make it through this critical stage. We ask God to grant our Egypt safety, progress, and advancement during this stage." He stressed that the Interior Ministry has good intentions when it comes to lifting oppression from all those oppressed during the past stage and finalizing the issue of prisoners one after the other as soon as possible. He also asked him to intervene to ensure the return of Dr Umar Abd-al-Rahman, Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah's spiritual leader, who is serving a life sentence in a US prison after he was convicted of involvement in the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993.
In a related issue, the family of Dr Umar Abd-al-Rahman yesterday organized a new protest outside the US Embassy in Cairo that was attended by scores of Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah members in the absence of a number of Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah's leading figures who have been accustomed to participate in such protests, such as Abbud al-Zumar, Isam Dirbalah, Usamah Hafiz, and Asim Abd-al-Majid.
Dr Umar's son, Dr Abdallah Abd-al-Rahman told Al-Sharq al-Awsat: "We met with the US Embassy envoy and sensed a change in the US position. The envoy conveyed to us Washington's appreciation of our sentiment and its understanding of our demands. He promised to convey our demand for the release of Shaykh [Umar] to the US Administration."
Dr Abdallah revealed that the US envoy expressed concern that new Al-Qa'ida leader Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri's call on the United States to release Umar Abd-al-Rahman will lead to acts of terrorism in US territory so as to exert pressure toward the release of Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah's spiritual leader. He said: "We stressed to the US official that despite the fact that Al-Zawahiri values Shaykh Umar's knowledge and status, we disagree with him ideologically."
Umar Abd-al-Rahman's son noted that his father renounced violence and appeared on US television channels after the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 to condemn the incident. He added: "The shaykh condemned every act of violence committed by Muslims in the countries where they reside. He said that anyone who uses an entry visa to enter a country is considered to have signed with that country a peace pledge that cannot be broken." He stated: "We decided to give the embassy two weeks to respond. If we fail to receive a resp onse, we will organize a new protest on 30 June outside the embassy and we might resort to staging a sit-in."
Currently, Umar Abd-al-Rahman is serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison in North Carolina after being convicted on charges of involvement in the New York bombing in 1993. The Egyptian judiciary found him innocent of the charge of being an accomplice to the assassination of Al-Sadat in 1981 after being arrested for more than three years at that time. Moreover, he announced from his prison his support for the initiative to end violence launched by the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah in Egypt in 1997 which led to ending the wave of terrorism that swept through Egypt at that time.
[Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat.com/]
Cairo Editor: Religious Extremism Might Assassinate Dreams of Civil Democracy
GMP20110314013003 Cairo Nahdat Misr in Arabic 14 Mar 11 p 12
[Article by Chief Editor Muhammad al-Shabbah: "Terrorism Resurrects its Reputation"]
I do not understand the hearty welcome in the official media and among political and government circles for the release of Abbud and Tariq al-Zumar from jail even though they were not prisoners of opinion but were convicted in the assassination of former President Anwar al-Sadat, the operation which inaugurated in Egypt the most dangerous periods of terrorism and claimed tens of politicians and innocent children in addition to the terrorists themselves.
I also did not understand the state of sudden kindness which overcame the Egyptian television while heralding to viewers its efforts to secure a telephone contact with Abbud al-Zumar as soon as he emerged from prison, or the questions of the announcer which varied between finding out the feelings of Abbud when the revolution was launched or when he learned that Habib al-Adli was occupying the cell next to his, or of his dream some years back that he will leave prison "at the hour in which millions of Egyptians will be going out to the streets"!
How great, by God! We see this on the television screens of the "civil" State that is living the most dangerous moments of its history on the edge of falling into the grips of extremism and Jahiliya [pre-Islamic era of backwardness]. How great, by God, as we see the hypocrites whose limbs are shaking these days as they see an offensive of sectarianism, whether by Islamists who seek revenge or Christians who demand vengeance. Both the Muslims and Christians have a long history of despicable relations with the former regime. Now we see different hues, foggy vision, and mounting fears over a shift by religious extremism from the era of assassinating persons to assassinating the dreams of the Egyptians in a democratic civil society.
Perhaps the most important statement which was made by Abbud al-Zumar after he came out from prison was that "the revisions" [published renunciations of violence by groups such as Al-Jam'a al-Islamiyah] that were made while in prison were not "retreats" and that they are still sticking to "the principles" on which Al-Jam'a al-Islamiyah was founded. He said that "Allah willing" they would return in the coming period to political life with a party entity that will express their ideologies. Then the State TV had to pose an important question to the [Egyptian] Nelson Mandela who had just emerged from prison on his opinion about the recent constitutional amendments, and hear him replying that he agreed to them and calling on the Egyptians to vote 'yes' for them!
Those who fear nowadays the remnants of the National Democratic Party, Habib al-Adli's gangs, and the mafia which monopolized the power and riches and terrified and plundered Egypt, also fear the remnants of the old terrorism that have returned in force to resurrect its reputation!
[Description of Source: Cairo Nahdat Misr in Arabic -- Independent pro-reform daily newspaper with an editorial line moderately critical of the government; focuses on domestic affairs.]
Al-Siba'i Publishes Names of Batch of Released Political Detainees in Egypt
GMP20110305836006 Ansar Dawlat al-Iraq al-Islamiyah in Arabic 04 Mar 11
[Statement attributed to Dr Hani al-Siba'i; dated 4 March: "Urgent: The Release of a New Batch of Those Charged with Military Verdicts" -- "Al-Muslim," user number 521, posted the statement.]
Statement No 19 in 1432 Hegira, corresponding to 2011
The Release of a New Batch of those Charged with Military Verdicts
By: Dr Hani al-Siba'i
[Email address of Dr Al-Siba'i is posted here]
Director of the Al-Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies
The Al-Maqrizi Center has learned, from a trusted source, about a decision to release a new batch of Islamists against whom military courts' verdicts had been issued. Shaykh Yahya Khalaf has informed us that the decision was issued following Friday prayers on 29 Rabi al-Awwal 1432, corresponding to 4 March 2011.