CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood said on Wednesday the party it formed to contest elections has chosen a Christian intellectual as vice president and numbers almost 100 Coptic Christians among its founding members.
The Freedom and Justice Party also has close to 1,000 female members, party official Saad al-Katatni said on the Islamist group's website.
"The number of founding members has reached 8,821 ..., including 978 women and 93 Copts. Coptic thinker Rafiq Habib has been chosen as the party's vice president," Katatni said.
He said Habib was chosen "not just because he is Christian but because he is a great intellectual and adds value to the party."
"The presence of Copts among the party's founders shows the Muslim Brotherhood does what it says it will do, and that our Coptic brothers are partners in the nation," said the party official.
Katatni described the Freedom and Justice Party as a "civilian (movement) based on the principles of (Islamic) Sharia law." Its activities are to kick off on June 17 after the formation of a political bureau, he said.
The formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best-organised movement, announced on April 30 the formation of a "non-theocratic party" to contest up to half of parliament's seats in a September election.
In the wake of the February 11 ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood has also pledged not to field a candidate in a presidential poll to be held in November.
Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 80-million population, complain of systematic discrimination and have been the target of several sectarian attacks.
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