Egyptian Shia prepare for first political party

A new proposed political party will include some of Egypt's Shia community among its members, prominent Shia intellectual Rasem al-Nafis said Tuesday.

At an iftar at the party's office in Cairo, Nafis announced intention to found the Unity and Freedom Party. He said the party will not be exclusive to one social sect.

Nafis said he has gathered signatures for his party application for the Political Parties Affairs Committee at the Court of Cassation.

All potential political parties must apply for approval to the committee. If an application is rejected, the party founders may file a complaint with the Administrative Court, which has the final say.

Nafis said the party now has offices in Cairo, Mansoura, and Zagazig, adding that it will be funded by members.

He added that the party's agenda revolves around freedom, untiy and justice, and that it supports calls for a civil state and religion-free politics.

The majority of Egypt's Muslims are Sunnis. There are no official statistics on the number of Shia in Egypt.

Some local press reports have estimated Shia in Egypt to number around several hundred but noted that Iraqi Shias who immigrated to Egypt following the US invasion in 2003 drove the numbers up.

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