Egypt’s leading Islamic authority Al-Azhar said on Thursday its clerics must be consulted on a law allowing the state to issue Islamic bonds, setting it at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood which drove the legislation through parliament last week.
Mohamed Mursi’s victory in Egypt’s presidential election takes the Muslim Brotherhood’s long power struggle with the military into a new round that will be fought inside the institutions of state themselves and may force new compromises on the Islamists.
Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh was jailed by Hosni Mubarak but has emerged as a front-runner for his old job as president of Egypt, staking claim to the political centre in this nascent democracy with a moderate Islamist platform that has found broad appeal.
At the end of January, a guest speaker drew an unusually large audience of diplomats to the 33rd floor auditorium at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Cairo. For latecomers, there was standing room only.
The Islamist speaker in Egypt’s parliament has reprimanded a hardline Salafi for reciting the call to prayer during a legislative session, telling him “you are no more of a Muslim than I am”. In an angry exchange broadcast on live TV, parliament speaker and Muslim Brotherhood member Saad al-Katatni told Mamdouh Ismail he had violated protocol by interrupting the session to recite the call for afternoon prayer.
Egyptian telecom tycoon and political liberal Naguib Sawiris will face trial on a charge of showing contempt for religion, judicial sources and Mamdouh Ismail, the Islamist lawyer who brought the case, said on Monday. Sawiris, a prominent figure in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, was accused by a group of about 20 lawyers of showing contempt by tweeting a cartoon seen as insulting to Islam. According to the daily Al Masry Al Youm, “In June, Sawiris posted a picture depicting Mickey Mouse wearing a beard and Minnie Mouse wearing a face veil on his Twitter account, a cartoon that many Muslims considered offensive.”
The Salafi movement wants to model Egypt’s future on Islam’s past. If the first results of the country’s parliamentary elections are anything to go by, many Egyptians agree with them.
After waiting 83 years, the Muslim Brotherhood finally senses a chance to be at the centre of how Egypt is governed and the Islamists hope to lead the renaissance of a nation which has suffered a steep economic and political decline.
The Muslim Brotherhood believes a majority in the new parliament should form a new government, the head of the group’s political party said on Tuesday, a position that could set the Islamists on course for a row with Egypt’s military rulers.
The Palestinians will seek World Heritage status for the birthplace of Jesus once the U.N. cultural agency admits them as a full member, and will then nominate other sites on Israeli-occupied land for the same standing, an official said. Hamdan Taha, a Palestinian Authority minister who deals with antiquities and culture, said UNESCO membership was the Palestinians’ natural right. He described as “regrettable” the objections of some governments including the United States.