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Egypt court overturns ban on religious-based political party

An Egyptian court on Monday overturned a ban that prohibited presidential hopeful Ayman Nour [BBC profile] from forming a political party and also prohibited the formation of the Islamic-based political party Al-Gama'a al-Islamiya [party website]. The decision will allow political parties [Reuters report] previously banned because of their religious foundations to participate in the upcoming November parliamentary elections. The court found that Al-Gama'a al-Islamiya's party, "Construction and Development," should be allowed to participate in the elections because its founders consist of Muslims and non-Muslims and the party does not mandate the religion of its members.

While the decision marks progress in Egypt's journey towards democratic rule, certain election prohibitions continue to restrict its progress. The Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [NYT backgrounder] on Saturday amended election rules to ban the use of religious slogans in campaigning [JURIST report]. The Supreme Council stated that "[e]lectoral campaigns based on the use of religious slogans or on racial or gender segregation are banned," adding that violators could be fined and face up to three months in jail. The new decree will have an immediate effect on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) [party website; JURIST news archive] whose traditional slogan, "Islam is the solution," will be banned under the new electoral guidelines. The MB was officially declared legal [JURIST report] in June for the first time since the powerful political organization's inception nearly 80 years ago, but has been banned in Egypt since 1954.

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