Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Africa's resources: re-examining the management of oil and gas

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A closer look at Trump's Afghan policy

Read more

THE DEBATE

New President, Old War: Trump outlines his strategy for Afghanistan

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump: An expensive president to protect

Read more

ENCORE!

Edinburgh at 70: front row at the Festival

Read more

FOCUS

Oil theft: a multi-billion dollar business fuels Mexican cartels

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French government, employers and unions begin final discussions on labour reforms

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Here are six costly failures from America’s longest war. No. 1: cashmere goats'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Charter of transparency…but no official ‘first lady’ title for Brigitte Macron

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2012-01-27

Egypt’s Salafist surge

In a matter of months, Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafists have beaten a path from marginalised religious sect to major political force. But what do we know about them, aside from their heavily religious roots? France 24’s Chris Moore and Noreddine Bezziou travelled to Egypt to find out.

We meet the president of the Salafist Al Nour party as he leads prayers at a mosque in Alexandria. “Before the revolution prayers were on more general subjects…now we are freer and we can be more frank,” Emad Abdul Ghafour tells us.

Like fellow members, he’s brimming with confidence. They’ve just scored 24% of the vote in Egypt’s landmark elections, making them the second biggest bloc in parliament. Not bad for a political party founded just nine months ago.

Hosni Mubarak’s departure in February 2011 has seen Egypt’s Salafists emerge from the shadows. Before, they operated in the half-light, in little mosques like these, the former leader’s security services – wary of Islamists – never far away.

Now, they can openly advocate their agenda. Their ideal society is that of the first Muslims, one based on a strict adherence to the Koran and Sharia law.

What is striking among the party’s leaders and supporters is the belief that this model will soon become reality. They’re buoyed by election results which have seen Egyptians vote overwhelmingly for Islam – the Salafists coming in second only to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Above the Salafists’ political wing is a religious council which gives the green light to policy. In a mosque further along the road we meet one of its members, Ahmed Farid. “Believing in total freedom, that individuals can do what they want as long as they don’t hurt others as they put it…that doesn’t work in our religion…because we are the servants of God and servants obey their masters,” he tells us.

Below the political wing exists a long-standing network of sympathisers whose means are growing. In the city of Faiyoum, we meet Abu Muslim. At 16, he became Egypt’s youngest Islamist prisoner, and spent 14 years in Mubarak’s notorious jail system before being released in 2006. “The more you’re tortured for your beliefs…the deeper those beliefs become,” he says.

Now, Abu Muslim has founded a centre with like-minded individuals. Their goal is to make ancient religious rules compatible with modern life and business.

With the generals who replaced Mubarak promising to hand power to a civilian government, Egyptians are about to learn how far and how fast the Islamists will go in applying Sharia law - and to discover the level of sway the Salafists hold.

By Noreddine BEZZIOU , Christopher MOORE

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-07-28 Middle East

Video: The plight of Cairo's street children

In Egypt, tens of thousands of children wander the streets of the capital, Cairo. They survive as best they can amid desperate poverty and violence. Some NGOs, such as France's...

Read more

2017-07-21 Asia-pacific

Video: Afghans live in fear as kidnappings soar

Last year, more than 300 people were kidnapped in Afghanistan. Although abductions of foreigners by the Taliban tend to make the headlines, more than 90% of the victims are in...

Read more

2017-07-14 Asia-pacific

China dreams of superpower status on the football pitch

China has been redrawing the world's football map in recent months. Thanks to virtually unlimited funds, players and coaches from some of the best European clubs are flocking to...

Read more

2017-07-13 Middle East

Exclusive: Storming Raqqa, IS group's cursed capital in Syria

The city of Raqqa in northern Syria has been held by the Islamic State group since early 2014. But the terror group's Syrian headquarters is on the verge of liberation. Snipers...

Read more

2017-07-07 European Union

Poland’s love-hate relationship with the EU

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, is a maverick. On civil rights, justice and the environment, Poland is increasingly breaking away from EU...

Read more