Egypt’s Salafists are hoping to capitalize on Morsi’s failure

Al-Monitor reports: In a statement issued June 21 addressing the upcoming June 30 nationwide opposition protests, the Salafist al-Nour Party illustrated its guarded, line-straddling position in the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s liberal opposition forces.

While the Nour Party expressed support for the controversial constitution and recognition of the legitimacy of the embattled president, it inconspicuously rallied behind efforts to destabilize the current regime. It called on protesters to adopt peaceful measures to change the balance of power, criticized the partisanship of the president and rejected attempts to portray Egypt’s political stalemate as an Islamist-secular struggle.

“They want to say they are not against secular parties,” Khaled Dawoud, a spokesperson for the National Salvation Front (NSF), told Al-Monitor. “The point that continues to cause problems between us is the constitution.” Opposition groups hold that various articles in Egypt’s constitution challenge religious and social freedoms, whereas al-Nour staunchly opposes removing the debated articles.

Al-Nour has long been wary of attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to amass power and marginalize its competition. After leaving the Brotherhood-dominated Democratic Alliance for Egypt ahead of the parliamentary elections, the former head of al-Nour told Reuters that the group would not operate in the shadow of the Muslim Brotherhood, and spoke of the acrimonious experience of other parties in the alliance.

Al-Nour, the largest of several Salafist parties, boasts more than 180,000 registered members, and, as an organized political body, is second to the Muslim Brotherhood in size and political strength. “They have ambition to govern, banking on their wide popular base,” said Ahmad Ban, head of the Social and Political Movements Unit at the Nile Center for Political and Strategic Studies. [Continue reading…]

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