Profile: Egypt's Salafist al-Nour Party

By Said Shehata
BBC News


Al-Nour is a Salafist party that was legalised in June 2011 by the Political Parties' Committee and headed by Emad Abdul Ghafour.

It includes Salafists who were active in some cities in Egypt during the Mubarak era, especially Alexandria, where they provided religious and social services.

Its logo is a sun, meant to show that the party will bring clarity and light.

It gained attention during a 29 July demonstration called "Kandahar Friday", when Salafists carried slogans calling for applying Islamic Sharia and the Koran.

Programme and goals

Applying Islamic Sharia in all aspects of life is the main goal.

They call for people to follow Islam that was practiced during the time of the Prophet Muhamad and his companions, and for Islamic ethics to be the terms of reference of daily life.

"The party aims at reforming people's lives according to the Koran and Sunnah and a modern state based on Islamic ethics," a senior party official, Yousry Hamad, told the BBC.

Al-Nour highlights the right to private property and economic competition as long as it does not damage public interests.

It asserts freedoms and rights as possible within the confines of Islamic Sharia.

Electoral Alliances

The party was part of the Democratic Alliance led by the Freedom and Justice Party, but they withdrew to establish a new bloc.

image caption, Yousry Hamad says the party wants a modern state based on Islamic ethics

Their Islamic views are more conservative than those of the Freedom and Justice Party regarding Islamic Sharia and the relationship with Israel.

They believe in a strict application of Sharia law, such as implementing Islamic punishments known as Huddud. They also found it hard to deal with non-Islamist parties.

They have formed the Islamist Alliance with other parties including al-Gamma' al-Islamiyya's Reconstruction and Development Party and the Salafist al-Asala Party.


Al-Nour is accused by some liberal parties and some Egyptian media of getting money from Gulf countries, but the party denied this.

"We face financial problems and this led to our absence in Cairo," said Yousry Hammad. "If we have abundance of money as others claim, we could have nominated candidates in all districts, and this is not the case."

He said the campaign has been financed by members and sympathisers, and costs have been kept low because of the efforts of volunteers.

Women and Copts

The party programme states the right of Copts to have their separate personal status laws and their freedom of religion.

However, Copts are suspicious about Salafist intentions to apply Islamic Sharia.

Al-Nour calls for a Muslim male to be the president of Egypt because it is a Muslim state.

"If 95% of the population are Muslims, no wonder the president should be a Muslim because the president should preserve Islam," said Yousry Hammad.

The party has no Copt on their list, saying no Christian approached the party. They call for women to focus on the family, which they say is their main duty in society.

In the party's view women can be teachers and nurses, but not in leadership positions over men. It has 60 women as on the electoral list.

Constitutional principles document (El-Silmi)

Al-Nour joined other Islamists in an 18 November protest to express their rejection of the document, which states that 80 out of 100 members of the constitutional committee will be appointed, rather than elected from the new parliament, and gives the army immunity from parliamentary oversight.

"This document should be guiding and not binding because it will not be put for referendum," says Yousry Hamad.

Party chairman Emad Abdel Ghafour said the party refuses the usage of "civil state" in the document because it might mean a secular state that separates religion and the state.

Chances in the Parliament

The party leadership admits it will get few seats.

They do not have a candidate in Cairo, which will provide 36 seats for party lists and 18 seats for individual lists.

Their stronghold in Alexandria will give them their best chance of winning seats. Elsewhere, they will struggle to challenge the Freedom and Justice Party and remnants of the dissolved NDP.