Nour’s Salafist splinter group forms new party

Ahram Online, Tuesday 1 Jan 2013

A group of Salafists who split from the influential Nour party announce the formation of a new party on Tuesday

Al-Watan party press conference (Photo: Ahram Arabic News Website)

Emad Abdel-Ghafour, who resigned as head of Salafist Nour party last week, has announced the launch of new Al-Watan (Homeland) party Tuesday.

Under the slogan of "A free homeland and dignified people", Abdel-Ghafour announced the launch of the party during a news conference that was held at Al-Azhar conference hall in the eastern Cairo district of Madinet Nasr.

"We want Al-Watan party to be an effective contributor in building a realm of dignity and social justice. We want the Islamic Sharia to be a reality we can live in, not anymore a rhetoric," Abdel-Ghafour said in his opening statement.

"We aim to establish a party that all factions of the homeland can relate to. We want for this party to feel for the poor, to support farmers, workers and businessmen alike," he added.

Some leading Salafist preachers have attended the conference, as well as co-founders Yosri Hammad, a former spokesman of Nour party, and former presidential hopeful and controversial preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who is establishing a party on his own and will be joining an electoral alliance with Al-Watan in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

"We should not abandon our conviction that encourages harmony and cooperation for the good for the country and prevent divisions," said Abu Ismail, speaking at the conference. "I am very proud of this party's project, you will really steal our thunder" he jokingly added, in reference to the political party he is in process of founding.

"I can safely say that a large percentage of those who support the opposition, which would not even compose a sum of 5 to 10 per cent [of the people] is based on illusions of what they believe [opposition figures] call for. Once we raise their awareness, this country will go back to its original identity," Abu Ismail added.

"The first target is to liberate Egyptian people from political dependence," said Mohamed Nour, a former leader in Nour party and co-founder of Al-Watan. He concluded his speech by reciting a short poem in colloquial Arabic dedicated to the party.

Hammad confirmed to Ahram Online last week that Abdel Gafour had officially resigned as the Nour Party head.

"Al-Watan Party [will be] the largest Egyptian Party and will include under its umbrella all spectra of Islamist and national forces," read a statement published on Abdel-Ghafour's Facebook page last week.

However, the Salafist Calling responded on Monday by saying that it will not support any other party than its own political arm, Nour.

The Salafist Calling is Egypt's largest and most influential Salafist movement. It includes a number of the country's most prominent preachers.

Nour was dealt a blow with the resignation of 150 members last month.

The conflict that led to the mass resignations was between Abdel-Ghafour's front and followers of cleric Yasser El-Borhami, one of the founders of the Salafist Calling, a movement that spawned the Nour Party in 2011.

The Nour Party is the most influential Salafist party in Egypt. It led a coalition of Islamist political parties that won 127 seats in the now dissolved lower house of parliament. 

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