Here’s a story about pots rebuking kettles over the issue of blackness: Al Ahram reported on Monday that the extremist Salafist Nour Party is sending a delegation to the Sinai Peninsula to “raise religious awareness and combat extremism.”
The Sinai-bound commission will include members of the Shura Council (Egypt’s upper house of parliament), the Nour Party and the armed forces, as well as figures from Salafist Calling Islamist movement, security personnel and government officials.
The group will hold a series of meetings urging Sinai citizens to stand by the army in combating the supremacist Islamist groups roaming the area.
Nour Party leaders in the delegation will include the party’s secretary-general Galal Amin and Ashraf Thabet, a member of the party’s higher commission.
Also going are the Salafist Calling movement’s head Yasser Borhami and its spokesperson Abdel-Moneim El-Shahat.
El-Shahat and Borhami have made a number of controversial statements in the past, noted Al Ahram.
El-Shahat described the literature of Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz as “inciting promiscuity, prostitution and atheism.” Borhami was quoted by Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk as saying a Muslim taxi driver should not transport a Christian priest if his destination is the church.
Borhami in particular has been outspoken regarding his views of Jews and Christians, describing both as “infidels”.
“I hold on to my stance that Jews and Christians are infidels, but they do have rights that Allah has given them,” he stated last December during a press conference in Dakahliah, north east of Cairo.
“We would never give up our thoughts for politics,” Borhami added.
Al-Nour’s MP Hazem Shoman is another Salafist sheikh who has made the headlines for his acid tongue and abrasive nature. He also spoke at the conference. “Deviating from Islamic Sharia is the reason why Egypt was vanquished in 1967 [by Israel] and 2,700 women have committed suicide for being spinsters,” Shoman said.
The planned visit comes after the August 5 armed assault on a Rafah army post which saw 16 soldiers killed and 7 others injured.
Cynical comments aside, the visit attests to the Egyptian Islamist leadership’s awareness of the need to corral their out of control rank and file in the Sinai, and the realization that this cannot be done with tanks and planes alone.