Al-Wasat Party

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New Center Party
Hizb al-Wasat al-Jadid
Arabic name حزب الوسط الجديد
President Mohamed Abdel Latif (acting)[1]
Abou Elela Mady
Vice-President Essam Sultan
Vice-President Mohamed Mahsoub
Secretary-General Mohammed Abdul-Latif
Spokesperson Amr Farouk
Slogan الوطن قبل الوسط
Motherland before Al-wasat
Founded 1996 (1996)[a]
Headquarters 8 Pearl St., Mokattam, Cairo
Ideology Moderate Islamism,[2]
Centrism[3]
National affiliation 25 January Salvation Front[4]
Colors maroon
Website
Official website
Politics of Egypt
Political parties
Elections
a^ : Legally recognized on 19 February 2011.

Hizb al-Wasat (Arabic: حزب الوسط‎), translated in English as the Center Party but more commonly known as al-Wasat Party, is a moderate Islamist political party in Egypt.[5] The party withdrew from the Anti-Coup Alliance on 28 August 2014.[6] it indicated in meetings with other members of the 25 January Salvation Front that the reason it left the Anti-Coup Alliance was that the alliance demanded the return of Mohamed Morsi to the presidency.[4] A court case was brought forth to dissolve the party,[7] though the Alexandria Urgent Matters Court ruled on 26 November 2014 that it lacked jurisdiction.[8]

Foundation[edit]

The party was founded by Abou Elela Mady in 1996 as a splinter group of the Muslim Brotherhood,[9] which Mady accused of having "narrow political horizons." The creation of al-Wasat was criticized by the Brotherhood, which said Mady was trying to split the movement.[10] It was also not well received by the Egyptian government, which brought its founders before a military court on the charge of setting up a party as an Islamist front.

Al-Wasat tried to gain an official license four times between 1996 and 2009, but its application was rejected each time by the political parties committee, which was chaired by a leading member of the ruling National Democratic Party.[10] Political parties formed on the basis of religion have been banned by the Egyptian constitution since an amendment to Article 5 was approved in 2007.[11] The leader of the party, Abou Elela Mady, as well as deputy head Essam Sultan, have been detained following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'etat.[12]

Recognition[edit]

Al-Wasat was granted official recognition on 19 February 2011 after a court in Cairo approved its establishment. The court's ruling was handed down in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, and made al-Wasat the first new party to gain official status after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.[13] Its newly acquired official status allowed al-Wasat to compete in the next parliamentary election, and made it the first legal party in Egypt with an Islamic background.[14][15]

Ideology[edit]

The party asserts that its aim is to promote a tolerant version of Islam with liberal tendencies. Its founder Mady highlights as proof of this openness the fact that two Copts and three women are among the party's 24 top members.[16] According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, al-Wasat "seeks to interpret Islamic sharia principles in a manner consistent with the values of a liberal democratic system. Although al-Wasat advocates a political system that is firmly anchored in Islamic law, it also views sharia principles as flexible and wholly compatible with the principles of pluralism and equal citizenship rights."[3] The party's manifesto accepts the right of a Christian to become head of state in a Muslim-majority country.[14] Its founder Mady likens its ideology to that of the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP).[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "حزب الوسط: مظاهرات 28 نوفمبر خطوة غير موفقة ولننشارك فيها". Youm7. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  2. ^ The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, "Egypt Elections: al-Wasat (Center Party)". Retrieved 31 January 2012
  3. ^ a b el-Karanshawi, Shaimaa (19 February 2011). "Egypt court approves moderate Islamic party". Almasry Alyoum. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  4. ^ a b New alliance of political opposition under Aboul Fotouh aims to restore 25 Jan revolution, Egypt Independent, 1 October 2014, retrieved 1 October 2014 
  5. ^ Egypt Elections – Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, Guide to Egypt's Transition, "Al-Wasat (Center Party)". Retrieved 31 January 2012
  6. ^ "Wasat Party withdraws from NASL, considers parliamentary elections: Source". Cairo Post. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Auf, Yussef (25 November 2014). "Political Islam’s Fate in Egypt Lies in the Hands of the Courts". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Court claims no jurisdiction over religiously affiliated parties". Daily News Egypt. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Dina Shehata (March 2012). "Mapping Islamic Actors in Egypt". Islam Research Program. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Mikhail, Sarah; Perry, Tom (19 February 2011). "New party shows deep political change in new Egypt". Reuters. Archived from the original on 20 February 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  11. ^ "Constitutional Amendments of 2007" (PDF). Cabinet of Egypt. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  12. ^ "Wasat Party initially boycotting constitutional referendums". Daily News Egypt. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Tom Perry (19 February 2011). "After 15-year wait, Egypt's Wasat Party approved". Reuters. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Egypt court approves country's first Islamic party" (Reprint). Indo-Asian News Service. 19 February 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  15. ^ "Egypt licenses first moderate Islamic party". The Jerusalem Post. 19 February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  16. ^ Maamoun Youssef (19 February 2011). "After years of trying, moderate Islamic party gets official recognition in post-Mubarak Egypt". CP. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Norton, Augustus Richard (2005). "Thwarted Politics: The Case of Egypt’s Hizb al-Wasat". In Robert Hefner. Remaking Muslim Politics: Pluralism, Contestation, and Democratization. Princeton University Press. pp. 133–60. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  • Wickham, Carrie Rosefsky (January 2004). "The Path to Moderation: Strategy and Learning in the Formation of Egypt's Wasat Party". Comparative Politics 36 (2): 205–228. JSTOR 4150143.