Egypt has barred the formation of a new political party by an Islamist group that once was involved in a violent insurgency against the government.
Egyptian authorities Monday rejected the request by al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya because its proposed party is based on “purely religious” grounds, in violation of the country's law on political organizations.
Officials said the application also was denied because the group advocates a strict interpretation of Islamic law – known in Arabic as 'hudoud' – by which thieves can be punished by cutting off their hands and murderers can face beheading.
Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, once Egypt's largest militant group, waged an insurrection against ousted president Hosni Mubarak's government in the 1990s, but has since renounced violence.
The Associated Press quotes its mufti, or leader, as calling the government's decision “unjustified.” Abdel-Akher Hamad said his group's advocating for Sharia law is no different from the Egyptian constitution, which considers Sharia as the main source of legislation.
In June, Egypt's largest and most influential Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood, announced the formation of the Freedom and Justice party. The ultraconservative Salafists then followed with their Light party. Both avoided religious issues in their platforms.