Egypt bars Islamist hard-line political party

By Maggie Michael

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Sept. 19 2011 1:35 p.m. MDT

An Egyptian youth protester chant slogans while carrying a sign that reads in Arabic "Yes for the revolution" during a rally in Cairo, Egypt Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Hundreds of angry Egyptians took the streets protesting against the re-activation of the emergency law and demanding the rolling military council to release the political prisoners and to stop the military courts related to revolution, chanting "Army, go back to your barracks".

Nasser Nasser, Associated Press

CAIRO — Egypt on Monday barred formation of a new political party by an Islamist group that was once involved in a bloody insurgency.

Egypt's state news agency said the Political Parties' Affairs Committee rejected the request by al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya because its proposed party is based on "religious grounds in violation of the law".

It was also rejected because it advocates a strict interpretation and implementation of Islamic law, known in Arabic as "hudoud," under which thieves can be punished by cutting off their hands and murderers can face beheading.

Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, once Egypt's largest militant group, waged an insurrection against the government in the 1990s, but have since renounced violence.

The group's mufti, or leader, Abdel-Akher Hamad, who spent years in exile in Germany, said his group calls for Sharia law just as the Egyptian constitution, which considers Sharia the main source of legislation.

"The decision is unjustified," he said. "We were shocked."

After the ouster Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February, Egypt's ruling military council issued a decree easing conditions for forming new political parties.

The new order gives citizens the right to establish parties by notifying the newly established judicial committee. The party would be recognized 30 days later, if the committee does not object.

There are limitations. The council banned the formation of political parties on religious grounds and those discriminating against citizens based on their race or faith.

Egypt's largest and most influential Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood, announced formation of Freedom and Justice party. The ultraconservative Salafists also formed its Light party. Both skirted the religious issues in their platforms.

Also, a former leader of Mubarak's National Democratic party has approval of the committee and formed a party named "Unity." Hossam Badrawi, who was the NDP secretary general, is among the party's founders.

In April, an Egyptian court ordered the dissolving of the NDP.

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