Alexandria Salafi scholars say Egyptian media tainted their image

Ahram Online, Saturday 2 Apr 2011

Salafists condemn accusations of violence and declare their intention to participate in elections

A conference was held Friday at Amr Ibn El-Aas Mosque in Alexandria, at which several Salafi scholars spoke to tens of thousands attending prayers.

Preachers Mohamed Al-Moqadem, Yasser Berhamy, Saeed Abd El-Aazim, Ahmed Farid and Saied El-Afany, condemned the use of violence and underlined their disapproval for becoming a “state within a state”, arguing that a negative image about Salafists was created out of the constitutional amendments referendum.

Abd El-Azim said the media has a responsibility to check its sources before publishing any item of news that taints the image of a person, saying that any crime that takes place now is automatically attributed to the Salafist dawaa (Salafist preaching movement).

Berhmay further criticised what he described as “lies” being spread about Salafis intending to attack unveiled women or destroy mausoleums built within mosques. He added that although the Salafists hold strong beliefs that nothing should be prayed to but God, they would only attempt to change that through preaching and stressed that they have not resorted to violence.

Berhmay also added that their position towards election participation has changed with regime change, arguing that the only reason they did not participate before was due to their belief that the elections were fraudulent. Thus they preferred to influence society through other means.

He confirmed that after the balance of power changed, they now intend to participate in elections and would choose from among the different Islamic trends present within Egypt’s political map, arguing that Islam is part of every aspect of life including politics, economy as well as internal and foreign affairs.

Ismail, on the other hand, questioned why such claims accusing Salafists of destroying mausoleums appeared only after the referendum, although they have been active in Egypt for more than 30 years.

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