- Middle East/North Africa
Some leaders of Ansar al-Sunna, a Salafi organization, will run in Egypt's upcoming parliamentary elections in Cairo and Alexandria scheduled for September, said Sheikh Mohamed Hassan, a renowned Salafi preacher, to the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
Contending that Islamists have the right to express their views and cannot be denied the right of political participation, he added that the Salafi movement plans to establish a political party.
Commenting on the fear of that an Islamic state could be established in Egypt, Hassan said: "Islam shouldn't be feared; it is not only the religion of Prophet Mohamed, it was the belief of all preceding messengers. Islam should not be used as a tool for intimidation."
Hassan reassured people of different ideologies and sects that Islam adopts a divine approach of balance, tolerance, and moderation. He stressed he is not aspiring for the presidency or any other political post. "My main concern is to remain at the service of Allah and my country."
The Salafi movement in Alexandria said in March that it intends to participate in the political process after decades of abstaining from it.
Alexandria is a stronghold for Egypt’s Salafis, who are known for staying out of politics, which they say corrupt religious principles. The movement considers democracy a Western system of government and generally does not accept the appointment of women or non-Muslims to leadership positions.
Salafis adopt a literal interpretation of religious texts and therefore do not see parliament as the source of legislation or the people as the source of authority.
On Monday, prominent Islamic scholar Youssef al-Qaradawi leveled severe criticism at Egypt's Salafi movement, describing its thinking as both stagnant and extreme.
Al-Qaradawi, who heads the International Union of Muslim Scholars, blamed the rise of Salafis on the absence of a substantial role for the moderate Islamic institution Al-Azhar.