A number of political groups have condemned the growing influence of ultra-conservative Salafists at the Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments) and Al-Azhar, the most important seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Popular Movement for the Independence of Al-Azhar, the Free Front for Peaceful Change and the Union of Revolutionary Forces described the appointment of Salafists, mostly from the Building and Development Party – the political arm of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya – as deputies at the ministry as an attempt to “divert the path of the Egyptian people who look to Al-Azhar as their religious reference point.”
The groups claimed moderate religious figures at Al-Azhar were being deliberately marginalised and replaced with "extremist" scholars who follow the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam.
Furthermore, the groups stressed the importance of Egypt maintaining its role as the “protector of moderate Islam” and said it should resist “the importation of foreign ideas,” referring to Wahhabism, which originated in Saudi Arabia.
A call to demonstrate at the Ministry of Awqaf on Sunday has been issued by the three groups.