Religious parties trade barbs over campaign tactics

The fight over electoral campaign tactics for the upcoming parliamentary elections has escalated between Islamist political parties. While the Muslim Brotherhood has called for developing a code of ethics for campaigning, a Sufi movement representative has attacked Salafis, stressing that Sufis reject the use of religious slogans. 

A Salafi electoral coalition confirmed that it also rejects religious slogans.

"The elections should have an atmosphere of mutual trust. This can be achieved through developing a code of ethics that forms a basis for election campaigns," read a statement on the official Brotherhood website.

Elections should be a time when political forces launch initiatives, visions and policies that aim to reform the country and should be devoid of defamation, the statement continued. 

Essam Serry, chairman of the Sufi-led Voice of Freedom Party, said members of his party have been placed on the Egyptian Bloc's list for the upcoming parliamentary elections. He sharply attacked Salafi parties and said his party will sue any candidates that use religious references in their campaign slogans.

Some Salafi leaders have attacked Sufis back, saying that despite refusing to mix religion with politics, they have formed political parties based on religion.

Serry argued that Sufis who have formed their parties on democratic and civil bases are more true to their religion, unlike Salafis who previously criticized secular movements and later allied with them. 

Bassam al-Zarqa, a leader in the Salafi-led Nour Party, denied that political activism is new to Salafis, asserting that Salafis have been practicing politics for many years, although now is their first time competing in elections.

The Egyptian people will elect those who best represent them, Zarqa said, adding that Salafis are the closest to the people.

"The Nour Party will abide by the law and not use religious slogans. But there will be proper slogans prepared by a party committee," said Zarqa.

"The Salafi coalition will compete for all parliamentary seats and submit today its final candidate list in Cairo," said Salafi-led Asala Party Deputy Chairman Mamdouh Ismail.

Haitham Abu Khalil, leader of Riyada Party said his party candidates would succeed in confronting the Muslim Brotherhood.

He reiterated Brotherhood leader Sobhy Saleh's old statement that if the Brotherhood nominated a dog, it would win. He claimed that Riyada Party candidates can break down the Brotherhood's leadership.

Abu Khalil's party is made up of former Brotherhood youths who decided to leave the group and start their own party.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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