Following massive public demonstrations, Egypt’s Islamist leader, Mohammad Morsi, is gone. But how much influence Islamists will have over governing the country remains an open question. One curious data point has already emerged. The Egyptian military laid out a “roadmap” that called for Mohammad ElBaradei, a former UN official and Nobel laureate, to take over as interim premier. But that move was blocked.
Who has leverage enough for that? The Al Nour Party, which the New York Times characterizes as an “ultraconservative” Islamist group. (For context: In a 2011 election wherein the Muslim Brotherhood’s party won about half of the parliamentary seats, Al Nour won a quarter, a considerable achievement for a newly formed party.)
The party’s ability to block Mr. ElBaradei from the premiership raised new alarms from liberals about what the ultraconservatives, known as Salafis, might demand next, even after the expulsion of the more moderate Brotherhood.
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Since its inception two years ago, the Nour party has campaigned more than anything else for constitutional provisions enshrining Islamic law, not just “the principles of Islamic law,” as Egypt’s charter read for three decades. Al Nour and other Salafist parties sought to give religious scholars a constitutional power to strike down any legislation that they deemed contradictory to Islamic law. But in the drafting of the country’s new Constitution last year, the Muslim Brotherhood sided with the liberals to block such a provision. Al Nour succeeded in preventing an express guarantee of equality for women from being written into the new charter, and it has defended prohibitions of heresy.