A leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt's largest opposition group, said on Monday that the MB's new "Freedom and Justice Party" would continue to stick by its view that Christians and women are unsuitable for the presidency.
Saad al-Husseini, a member of MB's Guidance Bureau, the highest executive authority within the group, said the new party program will be announced late March after it is approved by the MB's Guidance Office and Shura Council. Al-Husseini said that although they stick by this view, they "respect all opinions".
"Our adherence to the jurisprudential opinion refusing the appointment of women or Christians as president does not mean we impose this opinion on the people, who have inherent jurisdiction in this regard," he said.
"I personally accept for Copts to be appointed in hundreds of positions, including sensitive leadership positions in the country in accordance with the criterion of efficiency and competence, regardless of their proportion in society."
Meanwhile, MB spokesman Mohamed Morsi said the group is pushing for a civil state, without the tutelage of the clergy. Morsi said the group does not call for a religious state.
During an interview on state-owned television on Sunday night, Morsi said, "The civil state sought by Islam and the MB would ensure equal rights for Copts."
He pointed out that the new party will not discriminate in its membership between Muslims and Christians, or males and females, and that it will represent the politically focused side of the group, while the MB will continue to practice all of its social and preaching activities.