Thursday 14 November 2019

Fundamentalists block ElBaradei's appointment

Alastair Beach Cairo

AS Egypt's latest power brokers were busily coming to terms with the new revolutionary order, word emerged on state television that Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and liberal figurehead, had been selected as prime minister.

Shortly after the announcement had been made, however, reporters were summoned to the presidential palace in eastern Cairo for a midnight press conference. Mr ElBaradei had not been made prime minister.

The appointment of Mr ElBaradei had been blocked by the Al-Nour Party, a fundamentalist Salafi movement that has formed an unlikely alliance with the liberal and secular forces in Egypt.

Created following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Al-Nour's origins lie in the Salafi Da'wa, or Salafi Call, an ultra-orthodox group that emerged in Alexandria during the late-1970s.

The Salafi Da'wa's non-violent stance made it more palatable to the authorities, who often used the group to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet its members have espoused views that are severely at odds with the nation's secularists.

Followers try to emulate the perceived lifestyle of Islam's earliest adherents, while some leaders support re-introducing the centuries-old dhimma system, where Christians were protected by the Caliph but forced to pay the jizya, a special tax.

The initial antagonism between the Brotherhood and Salafists, although briefly suspended following the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, continued in earnest afterwards.

During parliamentary elections later that year, the Al-Nour party tried to portray Brotherhood candidates as stooges of the system.

In 2012, it decided to back a liberal Islamist in the presidential elections, only switching to the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi once their man had lost. (© Independent News Service)

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