Al Hayat – Jan. 16

Article by: Daood al Shiryan

Salafism between Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Part of Egyptian press exaggerates the so-called Saudi intervention in the developments of the Egyptian revolution.

Some say Riyadh has rejected the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak and offered to pay all the money stolen by the regime in return for not trying him…oh great!

Some also say Riyadh seeks to control the political arena in Egypt by supporting the Salafists.

These opinions are being repeated by intellectuals and activists in the Egyptian revolution and have, accordingly, become part of the discourse in newspapers and satellite TVs.

Such superstitious speech depicts Egypt as a marginal and bribe-taking country, narrows its political and cultural role and makes light of its historical and civilization position.

Moreover, depicting the Salafist trend as “made in Saudi Arabia” reflects lack of knowledge of the history of Egypt. Salafism is in Egypt even before the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the influence of Egyptian Salafists in the Salafism movement in Saudi Arabia is old and well-known. For example, one of the most famous members of the Saudi Senior Scholars Authority for decades is the late Sheikh Abdel Razzaq Afifi…an Egyptian scholar who came to Saudi Arabia and taught a big number of Saudi sheikhs.

Also, the movement of Salafist books compilation and publication was purely Egyptian until very recently.

Undoubtedly, the Saudi influence in the Arab and Islamic worlds is unquestionable fact. The movement of Saudi Sheikh Mohamed ben Abdel Wahhab has been echoing across Islamic countries and was the torch that helped protect the faith again and corrected many misconceptions, which spread due to superstitions and heterodoxies in the behavior of some Muslims.

But that influence does not delete the role of other Salafism scholars who are from Egypt, the Levant, Pakistan, India and other countries.

When some Egyptian intellectuals say Saudi Arabia is controlling the orientations of the Salafist leaders in Egypt, this is an insult to Egypt and Egyptians.

It is true that an entire generation of university professors, doctors, engineers and teachers – who participated in the development process in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s – brought some of the Saudi traditions to Egypt when they returned. But that generation was not a flock of ordinary people and its admiration of the Saudi experiment in some practices does not give others the right to accuse it of bribery and treachery.

Certainly, the anti-Salafist campaign in Egypt not only aims to lead to rupture of relations between Egyptians and Saudis, but also seeks to create conflict between Egyptian Islamists.

For well-known political reasons, some of the Egyptian Islamist trends refrain from accusing Egyptian Salafists of being agents, but for this they pay dearly.