CAIRO - Showing their support for the country's stumbling stock market, Egypt's political powers, including Islamists, have thrown their weight behind boosting the nation's economy, the Daily News Egypt reported.
"We all support our market and Egyptian society, Essam Sultan, vice president of Al-Wasat party, said.
There is a unified front here today; just like we stood together in Tahrir, we are standing here today to help our economy because we want to see Egypt move forward."
Leaders of political parties came together Monday, December 26, to discuss how to boost Egypt's economy following the January revolution that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
Among attendees were representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the Salafist Al-Nour party and the Free Egyptians Party.
"The principle goal of the bourse is to activate and boost the economy, thus creating jobs, said Ashraf El-Sharkawy, head of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority.
I believe this is one of the main goals of all political parties, despite differences in ideologies.
Sharkawy pointed out that Dow Jones "even has indicators that advise traders on which companies are Shari`ah-compliant."
The lack of capital inflows since the January revolution has forced Egypt's central bank to deplete about 40% of its foreign-currency reserves to prop up the Egyptian pound.
The country faces the possibility of an imminent economic crisis.
Al-Nour party has suggested an award for Shari`ah-compliant companies to help encourage halal economy.
"With that being said, that the trading in the bourse is halal, we want to encourage trading so we plan to introduce an award for the companies which are fully Shari`ah-compliant, and companies will be judged on their performance," said Tareq Shaalan, coordinator of the planning committee at Al-Nour Party.
Shaalan said the award is similar to that of the Malcolm Baldridge award, presented by the Baldridge mission in the United States, which aims to improve competiveness and performance among businesses.
Islam sees investing in the stock market as permissible on condition of buying a share of a company whose activities are permissible. But, if the activities and dealings of a certain company are not permissible, it is haram to buy any of its shares.
Moreover, the Muslim investor has to be joining the stock market for real investment not for speculation.
Adel Hamed, assistant coordinator of the Brotherhood's party, believes that it is not the role of political parties to dictate what is "halal".
"It is the role of religious institutions like Al-Azhar or the Church to decide these kind of things, not the political powers," he said.
"The Islamist front represents moderation; we don't say what is halal or haram [sinful]."
Hamed accused the media of spreading rumors about banning investments in the stock exchange to spark fears from Islamists.
"This is a sign to everyone; the fear that exists from Islamists, which is media-made, is a false fear, he said.
Our presence today is the biggest indicator that we support the bourse and we hope investments do start returning to the market in order to create more jobs for all Egyptians, regardless of their stance on politics.
"The media sometimes likes to show that the Egyptian people are afraid of Islamists, but the true Egyptians are not, they gave us their voice after all," he added.
Following two stages of elections, Egypt Islamist parties secured nearly 70% of the parliament seats.
Hamed opines that most Egyptians shy away from the bourse, not because of it being religiously permissible or not, but because many are living under the poverty rate.
"We are encouraging companies to invest, to create more jobs and increase productivity because Egypt now is a consuming country, we hope to change this and boost production," he said.
Hany Serageldin of the Free Egyptians Party believes that Egypt's economy will be boosted after the election of a free, civilian government.
"Our vision is to enhance the economy in the next months and the solution is not purely economic, to achieve this we have to work on political stability, Serageldin said.I can't expect investments to come when there is not clarity and this is why we need a transition to an elected, civilian government soon."