Salafi Scholars mull fielding independent candidates in elections

The Salafi Scholars' Shura Council is considering fielding candidates in single-winner districts in the upcoming parliamentary elections, council head Gamal al-Marakby has said.

The council includes religious leaders such as sheikhs Mohamed Hassan and Mohamed Yaqoub.

Marakby said the council had previously decided not to run in the elections so as not to deviate from its original mission of preaching, but revoked its decision when it found out that Article 5 of the new elections law stipulates that independent candidates can run without being members of a political party.

“This opens the door for the remnants of the former regime to enter parliament again,” he said, explaining that this encouraged the Salafi Scholars to get involved despite their “fear of politics.”

However, he said, Article 5 does not deviate from the people's demands. “Only five million out of the 54 million voters are members of political parties,” he pointed out. “The rest are independents.”

Marakby also warned candidates – including Islamists – against campaigning in mosques.

“Mosques are places of worship,” he noted. “But imams may explain criteria for choosing the right candidate without campaigning for anyone in particular.”

“[The Salafi Scholars] are impartial to all political parties,” he added. “And we will support the party whose program best convinces us.”

He also said 15 Salafi leaders will meet with Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb on Friday to discuss the current political situation and determine steps to restore security to the country.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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