Egypt’s Al-Nour Party Backs Sisi

The Al Nour Party in Egypt appears to be betting that favor from following its support for Sisi will help it remain relevant, and safe, in a country where repression against Islamists has reached unprecedented levels, writes TASMINE SALEH.

 

Egypt’s ultra-conservative Islamist Al Nour (Salafi) party is voicing interest in joining President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s new government as part of a strategy to replace the banned Moslem Brotherhood as the country’s most influential Islamist movement.

Al Nour chief, Younes Makhyoun, who enjoys strong support in Egypt’s poor cities and slum areas where Sisi’s liberal-leaning allies are weak, said in an interview with Reuters his party’s strategy would be to “help Sisi in his rule.” He backed the former General when the army toppled the Brotherhood last year.

When asked if his party would be willing to take up a post in Sisi’s new government, Makhyoun, said: “Very likely and I expect so, if God is willing… We are ready and we don’t mind any opportunity to present through it something for Egypt. It is a national duty to seek that. I would not mind joining the President as a consultant on his team or in the coming cabinet if he offered us so.”

Kingmakers

The Salafists, whose doctrine asks followers to obey the ruler of their country, have already asserted some influence. In the aftermath of Mursi’s ouster, they became kingmakers, blocking, in one instance, the nomination of a Prime Minister.

Opposing Sisi would be a risky affair for any political movement, not least one of an Islamist stripe. Security forces killed hundreds of Brotherhood members in street protests, arrested thousands of others and put its leaders on trial.

Al Nour appears to be betting that favor from following its support for Sisi will help it remain relevant, and safe, in a country where repression against Islamists has reached unprecedented levels. Al Nour came second after the Brotherhood in the 2012 parliamentary election with 20% of the vote.

The Al Nour party is formed mostly from religious preachers and popular Salafi scholars. It is unclear where it gets money to fund mosques, charities and branches across Egypt.

But some analysts said it could be getting financial aid from similar groups in wealthy Gulf Arab States.

Flexibility

The party’s flexibility has contributed to its survival, avoiding politics then embracing it to maneuver in Egypt’s volatile and polarized political climate.

These days the Party endorses the state’s campaign against fellow Islamists, the Brotherhood. Human rights groups say there are now over 16,000 political detainees in Egypt.

“We first need to build the state’s institutes and reach stability then fix any such violations,” said Makhyoun, who worked as a religious preacher for 40 years.

“We know that the Egyptians are religious, love Islam and its Sharia laws and, in time, and by us being close to the people on the streets, our situation and image will be enhanced.”

“I think the situation is moving in the right direction.”  


(Editing by Michael Georgy and Ralph Boulton, and shortened by YmD)