In a move that has many anti-Islamist Egyptians concerned, the government has again allowed the Salafis to return to preaching in mosques and on television.
Salafis are Muslims who profess to follow as literally as possible the teachings and habits of Islam’s prophet and his companions.
Soon after the June 2013 revolution in Egypt, which saw the ousting (and subsequent imprisonment) of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic supremacist groups—chief among them the Salafis—were banned from preaching.
The logic was that they were the primary actors responsible for inciting the nation’s more zealous Muslims to attack government targets, Coptic Christian churches, etc.
Accordingly, their access to mosques and other outlets were severely curtailed.
According to Nabil Zaki, the former spokesman for Assembly Party of Egypt, this new move allowing the Salafis, particularly the Nour party, to make a comeback
is a major setback that will make it that much harder for the government to combat reactionary thinking—and this, after the Egyptian public had made great strides against such thinking…. Permitting the Salafi sheikhs to ascend to the pulpits again revives the bitter experiences of confronting this form of thinking, bringing us back to square one.
Zaki and others also warned that this decision coincides with parliamentarian elections, meaning that the Salafi clerics will again use their influence and religious rhetoric to sway voters towards a more “reactionary,” that is, Islamic, agenda.