I tried to tell you. Salafis, in case the term is unfamiliar to you, are pro-Sharia Islamic hardliners. “Egypt’s hard-line Islamists speak up, creating unease,” by Hannah Allam for the McClatchy Newspapers, April 13:
[…] “Increasingly, Egyptian political elites are uneasy about the rising popular resonance of Salafis, concerned that, although the Egyptian groups do not currently advocate violence, their extreme interpretation of Islam creates an environment where susceptibility to radicalism and jihadi ideas is heightened,” a U.S. diplomat wrote in a cable to the State Department that’s among the cache obtained by the WikiLeaks website.
Until the movement that toppled Mubarak, Salafis assiduously avoided involvement in the world of secular politics. But as the anti-Mubarak demonstrations unfolded, young Salafis, with their bushy beards and full facial veils, became conspicuous among other activists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, despite the reluctance of their clerics to support the protests.
Then last month, a Salafi umbrella group in Alexandria, a stronghold of Islamists from all ideologies, sent shockwaves throughout Egypt with the announcement that Salafis would enter the political arena – an abrupt reversal of the faction’s longtime stance of boycotting elections to focus on religious outreach.
Some critics argue that the Salafis are too intolerant and politically immature to pose much of a threat at the polls, but other Egyptian activists fear that the Salafis are aligning themselves with the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood, and that that alliance will steamroll the disorganized youth groups and liberals in fall parliamentary elections, resulting in an Islamist victory.
That’s the U.S. government’s nightmare scenario: an Islamist-dominated government ruling the Arab world’s most populous nation, one that is a neighbor and peace partner to Israel and the keeper of the strategically vital Suez Canal.
It’s one that alarms pro-democracy activists in Cairo, too.
They point to the results of the recent referendum on revising the constitution of what can happen in an “Islamists vs. Everyone Else” political climate.
The Salafis campaigned in tandem with the Muslim Brotherhood in poor neighborhoods with religious populations, pitching a “yes” vote for hastily drafted constitutional amendments that the pro-democracy movement opposed.
The amendments passed with 77 percent of the vote – a victory that one popular Salafi sheikh controversially gloated about as a “conquest of the ballot boxes.”
The YouTube video of Sheikh Mohamed Hussein Yaqoub’s remarks went viral, setting off online battles between the cleric’s Salafi supporters and Egyptian moderates who took the video as proof that Islamists were trying to take over Egypt.
One of Yaqoub’s students, Sheikh Ali Nasr, said a Saudi-style theocracy isn’t the goal. He challenged critics to listen to Salafi preachers, promising they’d hear nothing about violence or forcing their austere brand of Islam on other Egyptians.
“We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves and say that we want a religious state, but I do call for a president that respects religious freedom and, more importantly, I want the president to respect and protect our resources and confront corruption,” Nasr said.
“Islam is in the souls of the people and will be here before and after elections, so we’re not looking for a religious state as much as a just and fair state.”…
I.e., a Sharia state.