Salafi MP insists Parliament break for prayer

A Salafi member of Egypt’s lower legislative house, the People’s Assembly, is insisting that parliamentary sessions pause during prayer times.

MP Mamdouh Ismail sparked controversy Tuesday when he made the call to prayer during the session, which provoked criticism by other members, including Speaker Saad al-Katatny, who considered Ismail’s action a violation of parliamentary procedures.

But in an interview with the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper published Wednesday, Ismail said it would be a disgrace to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Parliament if he is punished. He said he was surprised by the attack from Brotherhood MPs.

Ismail belongs to the Salafi-oriented Asala Party, though he said Tuesday he had suspended his party membership, but did not provide a reason.

The party was banned under the regime of toppled President Hosni Mubarak but won official recognition after the uprising that ended his rule last year.

Islamist parties won nearly 74 percent of the assembly seats in elections that ended last month.

Asked why he interrupted Parliament discussions with the prayer call, Ismail told the London newspaper he was responding to Katatny’s refusal to halt sessions for prayer.

He said the Brotherhood, whose alliance occupies nearly 47 percent of seats, wants to steer the assembly according to its will, and that the group’s members would not have objected if one of them had called for prayer.

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