Yemen Salafists criticize their exclusion from national dialogue

Al-Rashad party calls for rule based on Sharia law

SANAA - Yemen's Salafists want to be part of a national dialogue aimed at facilitating political transition in the country, but expressed criticisms for being excluded from the process, a Salafist said.
The panel, formed by President Abrabuh Mansur Hadi, "ignores a large part of the Yemeni population represented by the Salafists," said Abdelwahab al-Humaiqan, the secretary general of the hardline Islamist Al-Rashad party formed in March, at a Sunday rally.
The party, which distinguishes itself from Yemen's main Islamist Muslim Brotherhood Al-Islah party, has not been invited to take part in the dialogue to be held later this year.
The party gained official recognition in June and calls for a rule based on Islamic Sharia law.
Its founders claim that the party aims to take part "in the political process at all levels, including taking part in presidential, parliamentary and local elections."
The Shiite Zaidi rebels in Yemen's north "have two representatives" in the 25-member preparatory committee which will oversee the launch of the dialogue set to take place in November, Humaiqan said.
The Salafists espouse an austere form of Sunni Islam that seeks a return to practices that were common in the early days of the faith.
Their move to form a party was the first involvement into politics by Yemen's Salafists, who until now been represented only by religious associations and charities.
The national dialogue aims at facilitating political transition in Yemen which was envisioned in the agreement that led to long-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down in February after months of deadly street protests.