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Egypt's Salafists divide over Mursi ouster - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a protest near the University of Cairo, Giza, Egypt, Friday, July 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a protest near the University of Cairo, Giza, Egypt, Friday, July 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—One day after the removal of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Mursi, the Al-Dawa Al-Salafiya (Salafist Call) organization called on Islamist supporters of the deposed president to leave Egypt’s squares and streets and return to their homes.

The Salafi organization urged members of the under-fire Muslim Brotherhood to go back to the drawing board and accept the military’s ouster of Mursi. It also appealed to all Islamist groups to be patient, avoid bringing Muslim youth into fruitless conflicts and reconcile with all religious sects and state institutions of Egypt.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, vice-president of the Al-Dawa Al-Salafiya Sheikh Mohammed Abdulwahab El-Kurdi said: “Islamist movements and trends now consider the Al-Dawa Al-Salafiya and its political arm, the Al-Nour Party, to have betrayed the revolution and the Islamist trend and cooperated with the Egyptian armed forces by staging a coup against legitimacy.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, a senior Nour Party figure revealed: “The Nour party is in a state of confusion as a result of its participation in [setting] the road map with the military.”

Despite this, the Nour Party came out on Saturday to reject the first constitutional declaration issued by Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour. The interim president had ordered the dissolution of Egypt’s Islamist-dominated Shura Council, leaving the country without a legislature.

In a statement released earlier today, the Nour party stressed that it supported the presidential transition in order to prevent bloodshed and preserve national unity, but stressed that “as for the follow-up of what has happened on the ground in the past two days…we totally reject many things taking place in Egypt now.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat prior to the Nour party’s partial turnaround, Kurdi acknowledged that “some think that the Nour Party and the Al-Dawa Al-Salafiya organization are working in a non-political and undisciplined manner,” viewing their support of Mursi’s ouster as being down to political opportunism.

“The general public now largely opposes the Nour Party because its leadership spoiled both the Al-Dawa Al-Salafiya organization and the [political] party,” he added.

Kurdi continued that he was among the first to object to the Salafi religious and political organizations being treated as a single organization, stressing their independence. The Salafi cleric justified his stance by saying that he feared religious matters being politicized by the decisions of the Nour Party.

When asked about Nour Party’s meeting with Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt’s armed forces chief, the sheikh said: “We did what we did to stop bloodshed, but the shedding of Salafists’ blood continue in the squares.”

More than 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured across Egypt on Friday in clashes between the army and supporters and opponents of the ousted president.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Al-Dawa Al-Salafiya organization defended its position on the developments in Egypt and stressed that its approval of the controversial presidential handover in Egypt was not aimed at disappointing Islamists, but to “serve the national interest.”

While Egypt’s largest Salafist political party, the Nour Party, has backed the transition, the Salafist Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya continues to back Mursi. Analysts estimate that a large number of protesters in the pro-Mursi Raba’a Al-Adawiya square are Gama’a members, and the organization has lately proposed a national referendum on Mursi’s presidency to put paid to the political crisis engulfing Egypt.