February 18, 2012
February 18, 2012
Egypt is witnessing nowadays a counter-Islamist media campaign in what many describe is a bid to show fissures in the Islamist movement by accusing it od receiving foreign funding. The Salafis have received the major brunt of this criticism which prompted its official spokesperson, Sheikh Abdul Menhem Al Shahat, to publically challenge businessmen Naguib Swaris to prove that the Salafi movement had received even a penny from foreign sources.
Al Aabiya spoke to Nader Bakar, member of the high commission of An-Nour party, the political arm of the Salafi movement in Egypt. Bakar described the campaign against the Islamist movement an attempt by “mentally ill politicians” to reduce the movement’s popular support base.
Reconsidering Camp David
Bakar tackled the subject of Camp David convention saying that Islamists in Egypt need to debate this issue in parliament after the U.S. Reviewed its aid to Egypt and Israel. However he said investigation revealed the involvement of some Americans in foreign financing cases, the U.S threatened to cut aid to Egypt but not to Israel.
In this context, Bakar said: “The U.S. wants to send direct and indirect messages where you can read between the lines … And to impose control over the Egyptian decision. And lately, we see that the U.S. has gone beyond the red line and is still behaving as if it is Mubarak’s era when they were used to sending direct threats to Egypt. We call on the current executive power to make the U.S. pay back twofold and to stop the American arrogance and put an end to American officials’ provocative statements. Egypt will not accept arm-twisting and the Islamist movement, including the Salafi An-Nour party, agrees to continue receiving aid from the U.S. provided that Egyptian sovereignty remains intact and that the U.S. does not bind Egypt with any conditions. In fact, after the Egyptian revolution, there has been a popular resistance any sort of affront to national dignity, threat or pressure under the name of aid and assistance.
Assistance for Salafists
Bakar also refuted the accusation that Salafists had received financial assistance from the U.S. He said the only assistance the group received was training for some of the movement’s members in collaboration with the American Democratic Institute. These members are currently under investigation and initial findings show that no financial aid was given.
“Whoever is proven to have had irresponsible ties with the U.S. will be immediately dismissed from the party,” he said “But in this context, it is important to note that the party embraces more than 100,000 members and it is thus impossible to check every individual’s fees clearance before accepting his membership.
“The Salafists are so committed to transparency that the party’s leader, Dr. Abdul Ghafur, has said he will appear in court if there is evidence of any wrongdoing on his part. He has absolutely no visas to any foreign country on his passport.”
Ties with Iran
On relations with Iran, An-Nour Party spokesmen asserted that the Salafi doctrine is on one side and the Shiite doctrine on the other yet relations between states are governed by nations’ and people’s interests. Thus, if Iran wants to resume its ties with Egypt, it must stop the Shiite tide that reached Egypt as well as its support to the oppressive regime in Syria that is murdering thousands of its own people.
The Egyptian government must oust the Syrian ambassador from Cairo just as happened in Tunisia.
As for reopening the Rafah crossing, and the calls against the move due to trafficking, Bakar said: “The blockade imposed on Gaza will not be repeated after the fall of brutal regimes. There are efforts taking place to reopen the crossing and resume trade between the two sides publically, which will eradicate smuggling between the two countries.”
Bakar also talked about some of the artists who are afraid of the Islamist movement’s rise to power in Egypt and said that any art meant to elevate spirits will be accepted by people without any censorship.
But he said it is necessary to place restrictions on art. This, however, was not against the concept of freedom. France for example, “the mother of freedoms,” imposes censorship on art. At some point the French regime criminalized the denial of the holocaust he said, and a person could face up to five years in prison.
Whereas in Egypt, artists have been offending Islamists and calling them terrorists and the Salafis have not prosecuted them.
At the end of our dialogue, we tackled events in Alexandria which is witnessing the displacement of Copts who are moving to other cities and regions. Bakar rejected moves to displace the Copts saying it was against Islamic law. “Members of the Salafi movement members were the ones to intervene and stop the bloodshed that could have occured had they not intervened.”
He also insisted that the Copts of the village, with the church’s pastor in the forefront, will be favorable to the Salafi call and that the Human Rights Commission in the People’s Assembly will soon visit the village and listen to the people’s statements.
By Al Arabiya