Egyptian Court Reverses Ban on Islamist Party Paper
Egypt's administrative court overturned Saturday a ban on the publication of Al-Shaab, the newspaper of the only legal Islamist party in the country, the Labor party, a judicial source said, quoted by AFP.
Both the newspaper and the party had been suspended by the parties committee, the government body that oversees the activities of political groups.
The court suspended the committee's July 24 decision ordering Al-Shaab's closure, the source said. But the court said it was not within its jurisdiction to rule on the committee's decree of the same date to dissolve Labor.
Egyptian law says that the parties committee has to make a formal request to the parties court to get a political party dissolved, said the agency.
The parties court has not yet set a date for hearing the dissolution request. The court is comprised of high administrative court magistrates, senior civil servants and public figures.
In July, the administrative court also suspended the parties committee's May 20 decision banning the newspaper.
Nevertheless, Al-Shaab's printers, the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, refused to publish the biweekly, saying the courts had not definitively settled the issue, said AFP.
Ibrahim Shukri, the 83-year-old Labor Party leader, was quoted by The Associated Press as describing the court's decision as historic, saying it showed “impartiality in addressing democratic rights. ...This gives us a chance to at least convey our opinions.”
Shukri played down the significance of the continuation of the suspension on other party activities. Though Labor Party members cannot run in upcoming parliamentary elections under the party banner, they are competing as independents, he said.
The pro-Islamic party has only two seats in the 454-member parliament, but its members frequently raise questions uncomfortable for the government - such as relations with Israel, corruption and Islamic values - in its newspaper, said the AP.
The paper was suspended May 20th, nearly two weeks after student riots against a book denounced in an Al-Shaab article. The protests left at least 40 students and six policemen injured in the bloody clashes.
The article described as blasphemous a book by Syrian author Haider Haider's novel “Banquet of Seaweed” that was republished as part of a government literature promotion.
The paper bitterly attacked Egypt’s minister of culture Farouq Hosni for giving the go-ahead to the publishing of the book.
Prosecutors accused the newspaper of inciting violence by allowing Muslim militants to write provocative articles that harmed the country's “unity and social peace,” said the AP.
The decision comes amidst Egypt’s preparations for the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 15th – (Several Sources)
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