The Salafist ultra-conservatives are newcomers to Egypt's politics. But last week they earned plaudits here in Egypt and beyond for proving that politics has ethics, even if the precious membership of the Parliament is the price.
When reports started to appear in the local media that Salafist MP Anwar al-Balkeemy had made up a false story to cover up having a nose job, the stakes were high that his party al-Nour would stand by him. This is part of Egypt's political practices.
It all started when MP Balkeemy was admitted into hospital where he claimed that he had been assaulted by masked robbers while driving from his hometown in the Delta to Cairo. He also alleged that the assailants had seized LE100,000 from his car.
The purported heist came a few days after Islamist presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Abul Fetouh had a real attack on a road near Cairo, where three gunmen made off with his car. Both incidents added to the woes of the police who have been perceived as failing to re-establish security in the country since Mubarak's ouster last year.
Balkeemy appeared on TV screens talking faintly as his face was covered with a bandage. Much to many people's including Balkeemy's surprise, a manager of a private hospital came forward to disclose that the lawmaker had undergone nose surgery and had requested to keep the news under wraps to spare him embarrassment. Salafists believe that cosmetic surgery is against Islamist. But what about lies?
The saga heightened when Balkeemy himself admitted to having feigned the attack, claiming he made the lie under the effect of anesthesia.
However, his party, who holds 25 per cent of the Parliament, was not ready to fail its first test in public politics.
After investigations, the party reached the conclusion that Balkeemy has lied and should be punished. According to a statement released by al-Nour, Balkeemy was sacked from the party and is to resign from the parliament.
As one can remember this is the first action of its kind in Egypt since the 1952 when the military became the rulers. In the past 60 years, politicians have got the leeway and even audacity to behave badly and inefficiently, but continued to keep their posts simply because they have not fallen out of the ruler's grace.
Balkeemy's story and his nascent party's firm reaction point to a different emerging Egypt . Hopefully, other politicians, squabbling now for power, will learn a lesson.
The writer is the former chief editor of The Egyptian Gazette. The article was published in the Egyptian daily on March 12, 2012