March 4 , 2011

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, MARCH 4 - For the first time in the history of Sufism in Egypt, a group of 18 groups of the mystic sect have come together to create a committee for the formation of a new political party inspired by the Justice and Development Party, which has been in power in Turkey since 2002. The story was reported on the English website of independent daily Al Masry Al Youm, which also reported news of arrests of Sufis both in Cairo and Assiut. According to the website, the group appointed lawyer Ahmed Abdo Maher to represent them for the registration of their party during a meeting attended by political activists from the National Association for Change (headed by former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei), the Ibn Khaldun Centre (which had sociologist Saeddin Ibrahim as their former president) and the Islamic Popular Leadership Organisation (IPLO).

The president of the committee, Sheikh Mohamed Alaa Abul Azayem, announced that the party's platform is to fight secularism as well as fundamentalism and to promote social coexistence. Some of the names proposed for the new party are "The Freedom Party," "Egypt Today Party," "Social Coexistence Party," and "Elite Party". IPLO Deputy Secretary General, Ahmed Shawqi Helmi, rejected the idea that a party has been formed that does not aspire to govern the country.

As part of investigations by state security officials into one of the Sufi orders, 20 members were arrested in Assiut, in Upper Egypt, and another 14 in Cairo in the working-class neighbourhood of Sayyeda Zaynab, while they were giving out food in front of the mosque bearing the same name. Members of the Sufi order also include whirling dervishes from the Turkish city of Konya. (ANSAmed).

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