Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Nadir Bakkar, official spokesperson of the Salafi Al-Nur Party in Egypt, has revealed that during the recent meeting between leaders of the party and US Ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson, the issue Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman’s release was not discussed. However, Bakkar stressed the need to build relations between Egypt and the United States on the basis of respect for Egyptian decisions. During the meeting, US Ambassador Patterson focused on the Salafi nominations for ministerial posts in the upcoming government, and Bakkar revealed that his party is not interested in the Interior Ministry and Education Ministry portfolios.
In exclusive statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Bakkar declared: “Our meeting with the US Ambassador examined our vision for the situation in Egypt during the upcoming period. We emphasized to the US delegation the Salafi Al-Nur Party’s commitment to establishing and consolidating stability in Egypt.”
Bakkar explained that the US side was particularly interested in Salafi participation in the upcoming government, and was keen to learn about the party’s vision for the upcoming stage, including the relations between the President and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), future foreign investments in Egypt, and joint commercial ventures. He stressed that the meeting between Dr Emad al-Din Abdul Ghafoor, leader of the Salafi Al-Nur Party, several party members, and the American delegation did not touch upon negotiations to secure the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, currently imprisoned in the US. Bakkar went on to say that: “The meeting also discussed the developments of the current political situation, and developments relating to the constituent assembly, which will be commissioned to draft the new constitution. The US side expressed hope that the political situation in Egypt will stabilize in order to achieve the aims of the revolution, fulfill joint Egyptian-US interests, and revitalize the Egyptian economy during the coming period.”
During the meeting the Salafi Al-Nur Party stressed its commitment to national interests before any other considerations. Nadir Bakkar pointed out that the meeting was held as a means to emphasize that the party understands the role and importance of Egypt, as an attempt by the party to communicate with international actors that are influential in the global community, and in order to open the doors of dialogue and discussion for the benefit of the country. Bakkar insisted that both sides were keen to emphasize the need to consolidate the relations between the two countries. He added: “During the meeting, the Salafi Al-Nur Party emphasized the need to preserve Egyptian institutions, with the judiciary and presidency at the forefront.”
The Salafi Al-Nur Party spokesperson said: “The leaders of the party are convinced that Western powers are only looking out for their interests in Egypt, and the party in turn is seeking to initiate understanding and dialogue with all sides in order to achieve mutual interests without depending on any one side, and on the basis of relations between equals”. Bakkar claimed that President Mohammed Mursi’s recent visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirms the forthcoming foreign policy line that Egypt will follow, and sends a message in response to the circulating rumors about Egyptian-Iranian rapprochement.
With regards to the role of the Salafi Al-Nur Party in the upcoming government, Bakkar said: “The party has submitted its nominations for the new parliament, placing its trust in their qualifications, and the party is focusing on three or four ministerial portfolios.” Bakkar disclosed that the party’s nominees are prominent figures but they are not known to the media, and that they all are from the Salafi movement and have experience of government service.
As for the constituent assembly, Bakkar explained that a number of local media organs have deliberately sought to turn people against the Salafi trend and its political party, by distorting the party’s call to amend Article III of the constitution. Bakkar revealed that media organs have deliberately emphasized that the Salafis are calling for the article to be changed so that sovereignty is ascribed to God rather than the people, which is not true. Rather, the Salafis have asked for the article to be amended so that it stipulates: “Sovereignty is for God Almighty, and He has allocated it to the people, and hence the people are the source of authority.”