Nour Party 'strongly against' banning religious parties in constitution

Ahram Online, Friday 27 Sep 2013

Nour Party head Younis Makhioun says proposed constitutional amendment discriminates against Islamists

Younes Makhioun
Younes Makhioun, Head of Nour Party (Photo: Ahram Arabic Gate)

Head of Egypt's Salafist Nour Party Younis Makhioun said on Friday that his group "strongly objects" to a proposed constitutional amendment banning the formation of political parties on a religious basis.

Makhioun, whose Islamist party has been fighting a battle with the 50-member constitutional committee on several fronts, said that the draft article would "ban Islamists from political practice."  He added that the article was also present in the 2007 constitutional amendments made under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, known for his crackdown on Islamists.

Egypt's temporarily-suspended 2012 constitution, which is currently undergoing amendment, does not contain an article prohibiting the founding of parties on a religious basis.

However, Article Six of the 2012 constitution states that "No political party shall be formed that discriminates on the basis of gender, origin or religion." Makhioun has demanded that this phrasing stay as is, without additional changes.

Makhioun said that the newly-proposed amendment would be implemented "according to political whims" and asked for definitive criteria to distinguish whether a party had a religious basis.

"If a party calls for implementing Islamic sharia as mentioned in the constitution’s second article [as the state's main source of legislation], does this make it a religious party?" he asked.

"It is wrong to place the blame of the Muslim Brotherhood's mistakes on the whole Islamist faction," Makhioun added.

"Their failure in the previous period was not because they adopted an Islamic discourse."

Makhioun deemed the proposed amendment discriminatory, saying that the people are responsible for accepting or rejecting certain parties.

Egypt's 50-member constitutional committee is in the process of amending the 2012 constitution, and it expects to vote on a draft shortly.

The 50-member committee, which started work on 8 September, is expected to produce a final draft of the constitution within 60 days. The amended constitution will be put to a national referendum within 30 days of its completion.

The Nour Party recently replaced its committee representative after its original envoy stormed out of a drafting session following a heated debate on other Islam-related articles in the constitution. 

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