Egypt Salafists tell Israel they will keep the peace

AFP, Wednesday 21 Dec 2011

Salafist Nour Party follows electoral success with diplomatic words

A spokesman for Egypt's main Salafist party on Wednesday pledged that the hardline Islamist group would respect the peace treaty with Israel in an unprecedented interview with an Israeli radio station.

"We are not against the (1979 peace) agreement but we say that Egypt is committed to the agreements signed by the previous governments," Nour Party spokesman Yusri Hammad said in a telephone interview with Israel's army radio, in which he spoke in Arabic.

"If there are some clauses that the people of Egypt want to change in the agreements, then these belong on the negotiating table," he said. "We respect all treaties."
Al-Nour Party is the main party of the Salafists.

The hardline faction was initially part of the Democratic Alliance coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood, but they broke away to form the Islamic Alliance, which calls for a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Hammad said the Salafists image had been "distorted" by the media and by other elements who were against Islamist elements ruling Egypt.

The interview prompted surprise in Israel that a member of the Egyptian Salafist movement would grant an interview to an Israeli media outlet, particularly one associated with the military.

"We were surprised by this interview," a senior government source told AFP. "It gives us, without any doubt, something to think about regarding what is happening in Egypt."

Hammad's remarks were made as Egyptians turned out to vote in the run-off of a second round of legislative polls.

Since voting began just over three weeks ago, Egypt's main Islamist parties -- Al-Nour Party and the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party -- have emerged as the front-runners, trumping their liberal rivals.

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