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The Egyptian Liberation Party is a new Islamist party with a strong Sufi influence. The party was founded by Ibrahim Zahran following the January 2011 uprising and gained the support of a number of prominent Sufi leaders, including Mohamed Ala’a al-Din Abu al-Azayem of the Azamiyya Sufi Order. The Egyptian Liberation Party was a member of the liberal Egyptian Bloc alliance but left on October 16, 2011 to become a member of the Completing the Revolution Alliance.
Major Party Figures:
Ibrahim Zahran: Founder and president
Mohamed Ala’a al-Din Abu al-Azayem: Founder and leader of the Azamiyya Sufi Order
Ashraf Jaber: Founder and official spokesman
Ahmed Helmi Refaat: Founder
Ibrahim Zahran founded the Egyptian Liberation Party in February 2011 and characterizes it as a reformist civil political party. The party includes Armenians, Muslims, Copts, Nubians and a significant number of Sufis, primarily from the Azamiyya Sufi Order lead by Mohamed Ala’a al-Din Abu al-Azayem. The Azamiyya Sufi Order is historically one of the most political Sufi orders and was opposed to the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Al-Azayem has argued that a Sufi-oriented party like the Egyptian Liberation Party is necessary to protect the interests of the Sufi orders and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Sufi Orders.
There has long been tension between Sufi and Salafi communities in Egypt—Salafis consider Sufis to be heretics and Sufis accuse Salafis of destroying their shrines. Since its foundation, the Egyptian Liberation Party has made numerous statements directly challenging the increasing influence of Salafi parties. The party participated in the planning of a “For the Love of Egypt” march with Coptic and secular groups on August 12 to oppose sectarian hatred encouraged by some Salafi and radical preachers, but later cancelled its participation in the rally.
Despite its Sufi orientation, the party says that it is for all Egyptians and is independent of the Azamiyya and other Sufi orders. The Egyptian Liberation Party gained official recognition as a political party in September 2011 and stated its intention to run for 150 out of 504 contested seats in the 2011 parliamentary elections.
- Supporting a civil state that respects equal citizenship, human rights, pluralism, and fundamental freedoms
- Adhering to the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation and spiritual values, while also respecting the special personal status laws of other monotheistic religions
- Rejecting all forms of violence, terrorism, and extremism in thought
- Establishing a free market economy with a social dimension
- Supporting the right to health care, education, employment, and housing
- Spreading a culture of peace and respect in Egypt
- Increasing the role that Sufis have in the Egyptian state and society
- Opposing attacks on places of worship including Sufi shrines and Coptic churches
Foreign Policy Issues:
- Maintaining Egypt’s national security by securing its borders and the Nile as a primary water source
- Supporting full cooperation with all peoples, civil society organizations, and international institutions