Egypt court overturns ban on Islamist party

CAIRO (Reuters) — An Egyptian court on Monday overturned a decision barring the formation of a political party by an Islamist group that took up arms against the state in the 1980s and 1990s.

It also overturned a decision barring presidential hopeful Ayman Nour from forming a party, saying both Nour and the Islamist group al-Gam’aa al-Islamiyya “met the conditions stipulated in the parties law,” state news agency MENA said.

The court rulings come ahead of a parliamentary election that starts in November, the first such vote since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power.

The ruling paves the way for more strands of Egyptian society to take part in formal politics as the army tries to steer the country peacefully towards democratic civilian rule.

Egyptian law bans parties based on religion, but groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood have been allowed to form parties because they say they take Islam as a “reference” point and do not seek to impose Islamic sharia law.

The parties committee blocked al-Gama’a al-Islamiya’s party, “Construction and Development”, because it said the party wanted to introduce Islamic law and because one of its founders was convicted of a criminal offense.

The court ruled the party should be allowed because it did not differentiate between members according to religion and because its founders included Muslims and non-Muslims.

One of al-Gama’a al-Islamiya’s founders, Tarek al-Zumar, and his cousin Abboud, were convicted of involvement in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

They were released from jail last March, five weeks after Mubarak was ousted, reflecting the dramatic political change.

The parties committee had also rejected the formation of Ayman Nour’s “New Ghad” (New Tomorrow) party, saying its name was too close to “Al-Ghad” party which Nour had originally founded in 2004 but which has been riven by internal disputes.

Nour ran against Mubarak in 2005 in Egypt’s first and only multi-candidate election. To no one’s surprise, he came a distant second in a vote that was marred by abuses

( / 10.10.2011)

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