Strict Muslims Stake Claim on Egypt's Political Scene

(Reuters) Tamim Elyan and Abdel Rahman Youssef - Salafis, ultra-conservative Islamists, have overcome their distaste for politics to stake a claim on Egypt's future after Hosni Mubarak's overthrow. "What we want is the complete commitment to Islamic sharia law," said Abdel Monem el-Shahat, a scholar and spokesman for Alexandria's leading Salafi body. Banners of Al-Nour (Light), seen as the biggest Salafi party, feature men with long beards and shaven upper lips in the style Salafis believe the Prophet Mohammad favored, and women whose faces are hidden by veils. Analysts say the movement may have three million devoted backers and may control 4,000 mosques nationwide, resources that could help to secure a loud voice in parliament. Salafis may take votes from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Salafism is a centuries-old purist school of Islam. It was revived in Alexandria in the 1970s by a group of university students inspired by the 19th century Wahhabi teaching in Saudi Arabia. The Salafi vision bars women and religious minorities, such as Christians, from top executive posts and seeks to ban alcohol, "un-Islamic" art and literature, and beach tourism.

2011-11-23 00:00:00

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