Egypt viewpoint: Islamic project

Supporters of Salafist leader and barred former presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail shout against the Egyptian military council and Egypt"s election committee Salafists have become an important force in Egypt's new political landscape

As Egyptians go to the polls to vote for a new president, the BBC News website asked Egyptians of contrasting political persuasions to write about their hopes and fears for the country's future. Ibrahim Hassan is a member of the political bureau of the Salafi Front.

The presidential elections represent a vital development in the post-revolutionary period. In the near future, we aspire to have a full democracy and stable political situation with an elected president and a new constitution.

However, there are some real threats to our progress.

Our main concerns now are for the new constitution. This must meet the aspirations of the revolution and address the shortcomings in the current constitutional document.

The constitution should ensure the president does not have absolute powers to guarantee that we do not have another dictator.

The articles related to public freedoms should stress political rights for all and the right to freedom of expression and faith.

'Islamic majority'

Start Quote

Ibrahim Hussein

We in the Salafi Front believe it is best for Egypt to have an Islamist president”

End Quote Ibrahim Hussein Member of Salafi Front

However, these freedoms should not clash with the divine Islamic sharia and its constants, which define society's values and morals.

We do not see any reason for disagreement with non-Islamic political forces in this regard except those who are antagonistic to religious values.

Most Egyptians showed their confidence in the Islamic project in the parliamentary elections. Over 70% of parliamentary seats went to Islamists.

We, as Salafis, share one vision with all Islamists: to maintain Egypt's Islamic and national identity by putting into force the second article of the constitution which states that, "Islam is the religion of the state… and the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence [sharia]".

We want to add the necessary wording to make it more than just theoretical, so that it has more enforcement and influence in law.

We believe that the phrasing should be changed to show that rulings are determined by Sharia. This will achieve the demands of the Islamic majority.

We also agree with other political forces that the rights of citizenship and prevention of discrimination should be stipulated in the new constitution.

This means minorities should have the right to put their own religious laws in place, but not in a way that undermines the majority's rights.

Dangers ahead

Our other fears relate to the drafting of the constitution concern possible attempts at interference by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf). It might try to give itself a special status and curtail the powers of an Islamist president.

Election candidates

Seen as front-runners:

  • Ahmed Shafiq: Former commander of the air force and briefly PM during February 2011 protests.
  • Amr Moussa: Former foreign minister and ex-head of Arab League.
  • Mohammed Mursi: Heads Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.
  • Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh: Leading Brotherhood figure forced to leave after announcing candidacy last year.

Other candidates include Islamic thinker Muhammad al-Awwa; leading judge Hisham al-Bastawisi; Socialist MP Abu al-Izz al-Hariri; left-wing rights activist Khalid Ali; co-founder of Nasserist Karama party Hamdin Sabbahi

The criteria to define the new state system and the president's powers should be the interests of the nation, not part of the political struggle with the military.

Already we have seen that Scaf can plant "landmines". This led to it threatening to use its powers to dissolve parliament as defined by the transitional constitutional document.

Another example is the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly.

If a non-Islamist president is elected in Egypt, there will be a possibility of conflict with Islamists because of their control of the legislative authority.

That is why we in the Salafi Front believe it is best for Egypt to have an Islamist president, particularly one from the Muslim Brotherhood, which has the largest bloc in parliament. This would create a stable situation.

The new president is already set to have many challenges including the economy, internal security, justice and freedoms and the relation with the military.

Remnants of the Mubarak regime and the former ruling National Democratic Party will also pose a problem. They will use money and the media to try to prevent the completion of the democratic transition and undermine the revolution.

However we believe that the revolution is still safe and will not reverse. It just needs to draw lessons from the mistakes over the past year to correct its future track.

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