Egypt may allow first Islamist party

An Islamist party in Egypt – which says a Christian can be head of state in a Muslim society – may become the country’s first legal religious party before the end of the year, if a court rules in its favour. Founders of the al-Wasat party have been trying for nearly 10 years to get a permission to operate. The party has already had its application turned down twice. The Egyptian constitution bans political parties with a religious agenda.

BBC News, 6 October 2005

Could this be the same al-Wasat party whose formation was welcomed by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, even though it was opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood? Yup, it’s the same al-Wasat party. And could that be the same Yusuf al-Qaradawi who is denounced by David T over at Harry’s Place as “THE ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood”? Yup, it’s the same Qaradawi.

Raymond Baker’s analysis (Islam Without Fear, pp.198-9) of the formation of the al-Wasat Party in 1996 is worth quoting:

“The Islamist reaction proved the most interesting and least predictable. Although the press initially described the party initiative as the work of the Muslim Brothers, the leadership of the Brothers strongly attacked the party and worked actively to undermine it. The aging leadership of the Brotherhood regarded the work of the young activists as a breach of discipline that threatened the bureaucratic and hierarchical organizational structure of the Brotherhood. They expelled the party founders for arrogance and disobedience that threatened to undermine the movement. They also instructed those members of the Brotherhood who had responded positively to the initiative to withdraw their support….

“In sharp contrast, the New Islamists welcomed this bold initiative of the young as a sign of vitality and hope. In their public responses, they chose to pay attention to the most progressive and forward-looking aspects of the party platform, taking them as hopeful signs that the Islamist body could act in moderate ways that fully engaged the energies and talents of the younger generation. Yusuf al Qaradawy lent the full weight of his prestige to support of the Wassat party, sharply criticizing the Brotherhood leadership for its disavowal.”