Controversial Salafi leader announces ‘homeland’ electoral alliance

A coalition of Islamist parties dubbed "The Homeland's Free Alliance" has been formed to contest upcoming parliamentary elections and will be officially announced next week, Salafi sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail said Tuesday.

"Lists of competent candidates have been prepared to run for 100 percent of the seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections," the firebrand preacher told Turkish news agency Anadolu.

The once presidential hopeful, who was disqualified because his mother held American citizenship in violation of election laws, said this new coalition has developed a real legislative agenda to safeguard public freedoms, the judiciary and the establishment of newspapers.

Abu Ismail said he does not intend to run in the elections for the lower house of parliament.

"After the 25 January revolution, there was a shock that led to many mergers, alliances, divisions and coalitions, and this is normal," Abu Ismail said, adding that his party would be a "political school and entity," and that many "eyes will be fixed on that entity."

Although he said he rejects divisions and partisanship, Abu Ismail attacked secular forces, describing them as the "current of adversaries and opponents." He called for a daily debate between secular and Islamist figures that he said would prove that proponents of the former "base their support on illusions."

"The dissolution of the People's Assembly, which the hostile current has advocated, came in favor of Islamists, who will have their strength made clear through anticipated alliances," Abu Ismail said, referring to a court ruling that dissolved the lower house last year.

His remarks follow reports last week that members of the Salafi-oriented Nour Party would leave the party to form an electoral alliance with Abu Ismail's supporters. Former party leader Emad Abdel Ghafour announced during a press conference Tuesday in Nasr City the formation of the Watan (Homeland) Party. 

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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