CAIRO Jan 1 Leading members of Egypt's hardline
Islamist movement unveiled a new political party on Tuesday,
pointing to new rivalries that could split the Islamist vote in
an impending parliamentary election.
The creation of the al-Watan ('Homeland') Party is part of a
political landscape that was dominated by a variety of Islamist
parties in the last election a year ago, but is still evolving.
The polls, due to begin in about two months, will be defined
by competition between the Islamists, many of them from the
Muslim Brotherhood that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the
presidency, and secular-minded critics who have closed ranks in
opposition to him.
Al-Watan's founders include the former leader of the Nour
Party, a hardline Salafi Islamist group that came second to the
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in the last
The last parliament, in which the FJP and the Nour Party
together won some 70 percent of the seats, was dissolved in June
by a court ruling that found the election law had been flawed.
One of al-Watan's founders, Emad Abdel Ghaffour, was Nour
Party leader until he quit last week following internal disputes
over the role of clerics in decision-making and bickering over
He unveiled the new party on Tuesday at a news conference
alongside Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a popular Salafi preacher who
said an Islamist party that he plans to set up would enter an
electoral alliance with al-Watan.
Abu Ismail was a front-runner for the presidency until he
was disqualified on the grounds that his mother had held U.S.
Salafi Islamists had kept out of politics until the uprising
that overthrew Mubarak, but have emerged as a potent force since
his political demise. Their stated aim is the application of
Islamic law, or sharia.