Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Seven African countries' economies at risk over Brexit decision

Read more

THE DEBATE

Britain votes out: What next?

Read more

#TECH 24

The 'fintech' revolution

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

A certified 'palace': How hotels strive for excellence

Read more

#THE 51%

In her own image: Women in Art

Read more

REPORTERS

World War I: When northern France was on German time

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Ugandan city still scarred by Lord's Resistance Army atrocities

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#Brexit sparks a storm on social media

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Markets, pound plunge on Brexit vote

Read more

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

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

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

2016-06-23 World War I

World War I: When northern France was on German time

During World War I, thirteen of France's regional departments were under German occupation. For four years, two million French citizens took their orders from Berlin. No more...

Read more

2016-06-17 USA

Video: American conservatives strike back

Some southern US lawmakers have launched a legislative offensive to protect the "religious freedom" they believe is under threat. In Mississippi, homosexuals can now be denied...

Read more

2016-06-09 Iran

Video: A year of change for Iran since nuclear accord

It’s now been a year since Iran struck its historic nuclear accord with six world powers under which Tehran vowed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of...

Read more

2016-06-03 Nigeria

Welcome to Nollywood: The world’s second-largest film industry

In just a few years, Nigeria has climbed the cinematic ladder and pushed Tinseltown into third (with Bollywood in India holding the top spot). Today, Nigeria is inundated with...

Read more

2016-05-26 Ukraine

Ukraine: Searching for missing people in Donbass

For the past two years, Ukraine has been divided. Despite several truces, clashes continue in the eastern regions between pro-Russian separatists and government forces. According...

Read more