Muslim Brotherhood second-in-command Khairat El-Shater has denied supporting a fatwa against voting for liberal or secular candidates in upcoming parliamentary polls, as was reported in the Sunday morning edition of flagship state daily Al-Ahram.
According to Al-Ahram, a group of Islamist figures attending a conference organised by a Salafist organisation issued the fatwa because liberal and secular candidates “have radical ideas alien to the spirit of Islam...and should not represent Muslims in the incoming parliament.” The newspaper went on to report that the event had been attended by a number of prominent Islamist politicians, including Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya’s Aboud El-Zomor and the brotherhood’s El-Shater.
Later on Sunday, however, El-Shater denied the report’s veracity. “What was published about the conference was untrue,” he stated on his official Twitter account. “I did not adopt a fatwa to ban voting for liberals and I did not hear anyone speaking about this issue at the conference.”
El-Shater also posted a link to a video clip showing the speech he delivered at the conference on the upcoming elections.
The Salafist group that organised the event, the “Islamic Body for Rights and Reformation,” also issued a brief statement on its official Facebook page denying that it had issued any such fatwas or statements. The group is an independent authority made up of Muslim scholars, mostly Salafist in orientation, including Sheikh Mohamed Hasan and Sheikh Yasser El-Borhamy.
In a related development, Al-Wasat Party spokesman Tarek El-Malt denied on Sunday that the party had verbally attacked liberal political parties at a conference on Friday in the Fayoum Governorate, as had been earlier alleged by members of the liberal Wafd Party.
On Al-Wasat’s official website, El-Malt asserted that speakers at Friday’s event “didn’t mention any parties from near or far.” He went on to stress that the moderate-Islamist party believes that genuine democracy in Egypt would never take root in Egypt in the absence of fair competition between the country’s varied political orientations and groups.
El-Malt noted that Wasat Party founder Abu Ela Mady had also been a founder of the Kefaya pro-democracy movement, which, he pointed out, “includes liberal, leftist, Islamist and nationalist members.”