The Danger of Rising Salafism in Egypt

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Goldblog reader Patrick Elyas writes, in reference to the rise of Islamism in Egypt, which I wrote about here:

With the new political muscle the Salafists showed in Egypt today, the Muslim Brotherhood is the least of our worries. I'm a liberal, Christian Egyptian-American (born in LA but I've been to Egypt many times) and I am horrified at the potential for disaster right now, though I am still trying to be optimistic because I am powerless to change anything (and if the elections put Moussa or El Baradei in power, as I hope they will, all will be well).

The MB, while by no means desirable, is far better than the Salafists--who are radical Islamists sympathetic to Al Qaeda who despise Christians, women, and secularists. The Salafists who were out there were waving purely Islamic and Saudi Arabian flags, none had Egyptian flags--their loyalty is to Islam only. The MB, on the other hand, at least tries to moderate its image, which is in and of itself far more than the Salafists do. Furthermore, because of the relative diversity of the MB and its large professional class, it will maintain relations with the US, will at least attempt some semblance of economic policies, will probably give token concessions and protections to Christians, and will be flexible towards tourists (i.e. allowing alcohol, etc.), none of which can be relied on the Salafists to do, who have already taken vigilante justice in their own hands in towns in Upper Egypt. They publicly advocate returning to Koran-era punishment sanctioned by Shariah (possibly the most anti-democratic legal code in the history of mankind).

  You should also cover what happened in the border town of El-Arish, which is on the Gaza border. One hundred and fifty masked gunmen, many of whom had beards and were waving black Islamic flags and chanting Islamic slogans, went on a rampage. They tried to burn down a statue of Anwar Sadat and attacked two police stations and in the process killed anywhere from two to seven civilians, injuring many more. I hope this gets publicized in the West. These Salafists, are a cross between Hamas, Iran, and the Taliban. They are repulsive, and must be stopped at all costs. Those who love freedom and human life must stop at nothing to prevent the Salafists from realizing any power.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/the-danger-of-rising-salafism-in-egypt/242846/