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Egypt's Nour Party to stay neutral despite office burning

With tensions ahead of 30 June escalating, Nour Party maintains position against taking sides but condemns Muslim Brotherhood for feeding political polarisation

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Jun 2013
Nour Party
Salafist Al-Nour Party chairman Younis Makhioun (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's Salafist-oriented Nour Party will take legal action in response to the attack on its office in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla, the party's spokesman Nader Bakkar said on Saturday.

Bakkar said on his official Twitter account that the party will not "accuse anyone haphazardly."

According to Ahmed Qattan, the party's secretary in Gharbiya governorate where Mahalla is located, the attackers "ransacked the office and torched it [while] the police refused to intervene."

The office was attacked on Saturday after a protest in the city to mobilise for the anticipated 30 June demonstration against President Mohamed Morsi’s rule. Clashes subsequently erupted between supporters and opponents of Morsi.

Commenting on the incident, Bakkar asserted to Ahram Online that his party will not "be dragged into a conflict that will destroy the country, and will continue exercising self-restraint." He stated that the party's relations with all the other political groups in Mahalla remains strong.

Qattan released a statement Sunday denying that party members fired any gunshots during the melee. Media reports citing eye-witnesses in Mahalla had said that bearded men were seen firing rounds in the air to disperse the protest.  

The Salafist Call, Egypt's largest Salafist movement and the parent organisation of the Nour Party, announced last Tuesday that its members will not join the 30 June protests demanding early presidential elections, or the pro-Morsi rally organised by a number of Islamist groups which took place on Friday.

 In addition, the group warned against violent rhetoric and mobilisation on both sides "that would divide the nation."

On Friday, about 17 Islamist parties participated in Friday's rally in support of the president, including the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Wasat Party, the Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party, and the Salafist Watan and Asala parties.

Assem Abdel-Maged, leading figure of the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya told the crowds on Friday that the Nour Party was present in the demonstration, due to the presence of prominent member Mohamed Emara.

However, Bakkar, commenting on the incident later Friday that, "the attendance of one of our members at the rally is a personal action that does not represent the party in any way."

In addition, he requested that the FJP and the Building and Development Party "do not speak in the [Nour]  party's name."

The party renounced the protests, saying that they "only added to the existing tension in the [political] scene instead of seeking a sensible solution for pacification," according to Bakkar.

Tarek El-Zomor, a leader of the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, said at the rally, "they threaten us with protests on 30 June, and today we promise [the opposition] they will be crushed on that day."

Leading preacher in the Salafist Call, Yasser Borhami, said on Sunday that Friday's rally contradicts its slogans of "No to violence."

He added in his weekly Friday sermon in Alexandria that Egypt is exposed to the danger of civil war and said that it has decided not to take part to avoid bloodshed.

Calls for protests on 30 June were made by the Rebel campaign, a movement launched in May to collect signatures calling for Morsi's removal and early presidential elections.

The campaign has been supported by major opposition groups, including the leftist Egyptian Popular Current and the National Salvation Front coalition.

On Thursday, the campaign announced it had reached its target of 15 million signatures.

The Salafist Call said that it recognises Morsi as the elected president who should remain in office for four years according to the constitution. However, it also said that does not, in principle, oppose holding early presidential elections, but sees that this decision belongs to the president alone in the event that he feels he has lost support.

Nevertheless, it stressed it opposed some of Morsi's policies and those of his government.

In addition, it asserted that it does not condone 'takfeery speech,' that is, speech which condemns opponents as ‘infidels;' nor does it approve labelling opponents as 'traitors.'

On Sunday, head of the Nour Party Younis Makhioun, said in a meeting with the party's youth in Sharqiya governorate that it is not acceptable to "divide the Egyptians into two camps of Muslims and infidels."


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