Egypt Islamists split before vote, some call for unity

Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:33am GMT

By Tamim Elyan and Marwa Awad

(Reuters) - Islamic thinkers on Wednesday called on Islamist political forces contesting Egypt's parliamentary vote to unite and avoid conflict, after many parties broke off an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, fragmenting the vote of the Islamist bloc.

The newly-formed Islamist parties, known as Salafists and who follow strict teachings of Islam, pulled out of the Democratic Alliance to protest their small showing on the alliance's electoral list, saying Brotherhood candidates monopolised it.

"It is important that the Islamic voting bloc remains united in all constituencies across the state which can only be achieved through having one Islamic electoral campaign in all constituencies," 19 Islamic thinkers said in a joint statement.

The split could weaken the Islamists' chance of winning a majority in the first election since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising in February. The Alliance, which initially had 34 parties across the political spectrum, now only has 10.

A senior member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) played down the split, saying any alliance with less politically-experienced Islamists would be a "burden" on the Brotherhood, which has contested elections for over 30 years.

Essam el-Erian, vice president of the FJP said the Salafist parties were inexperienced and would pose a burden rather than strengthen the Brotherhood in the election race.

"It is better and wise for both to work individually. They are new comers to political life and they will be a burden for any coalition," Erian told Reuters in an interview on .

The defection would benefit the Brotherhood, which has decades of experience in running for elections, Erian said. "We have more than 30 years experience and we are widespread across the country."   Continued...

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