Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya leader Tarek El-Zomor has described the recent refusal by Egypt’s Political Parties Commission to grant his group a party license as a “politicized decision.”
On Monday, the commission announced its refusal to license the group’s El-Benaa wa El-Tanmia (‘Building and Development’) Party, noting that political parties based on religion had been deemed illegal.
El-Zomor, however, says the would-be party’s political program conforms to Article 2 of Egypt’s constitution, which stipulates that “Islam is the religion of the state” and that Islamic Jurisprudence represents “the principal source of legislation.”
El-Zomor added that the party’s desire to implement Hodoud - religiously sanctioned penalties that include, for example, cutting off the hands of convicted thieves - also conforms to Article 2. He pointed out that the High Constitutional Court had previously ruled that Article 2 of the national charter permitted the application of Hodoud penalties.
The Political Parties Commission, however, reiterated its refusal by pointing out that the prospective party’s program was of a “strict and puritanical nature” and contradicted Article 4 of the Political Parties Law of 1977, which “bans the establishment of political parties established on religious grounds.”
Notably, the Salafist Al-Nour Party, which was approved by the commission in May, does not refer to Hodoud in its political program.
El-Zomor, for his part, insists that most Islamic parties “agree on the importance of applying Hodoud.” He went on to note that the group planned to file a formal request with Egypt’s High Administrative Court in hopes of obtaining official approval to establish the proposed party.
El-Zomor and his cousin Aboud were released along with 60 political prisoners in March by the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces, which had ordered the release of prisoners who had served 15 or more years of their prison sentences.
The two were convicted in 1984 for their role in the assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and their association with the outlawed Islamic Jihad group. The two men - along with fellow group members Sawfat Abdel Ghani, Ashraf Tawfik and Shazli El-Sagir - were also banned from participating in politics.