Salafis seen as rising power in Egypt

Strong showing by conservative Nour Party in election puts spotlight on often overlooked religious force.

    Following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the first free and fair elections in decades, an often previously overlooked conservative religious force is rising to political prominence in Egypt: the Salafis.

    The Salafi Nour Party - nour meaning "light" - won a stunning 25 per cent of the vote for party lists during the first round of parliamentary elections in late November, surprising international observers and the more established and comparatively moderate Muslim Brotherhood.

    Salafis adhere to a strict, fundamentalist interpretation of the Quran; many men believe in strictly confined freedoms for women and segregation of the sexes, while a prominent sheikh has stated that women and Christians should not hold executive office.

    But Mohamed Nour, a spokesman for the Nour Party, says not all Salafis hold the same beliefs and that the movement has been slandered by the media.

    He says the party will not infringe on personal freedoms, such as drinking privately in one's home, since it would be against Islam.

    Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Cairo.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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