CAIRO, (Reuters) – The Islamist speaker in Egypt’s parliament reprimanded a hardline Salafi for reciting the call to prayer during a legislative session on Tuesday, telling him “you are no more of a Muslim than I am”.
In an angry exchange broadcast on live TV, parliament speaker and Muslim Brotherhood member Saad al-Katatni told Mamdouh Ismail he had violated protocol by interrupting the session to recite the call for afternoon prayer.
The argument laid bare tensions among the Islamist groups that won 70 percent of the seats in the first parliament elected since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power a year ago.
Belonging to a school of Islamist thought calling for a strict application of Islamic law, the Salafis have emerged as a major rival to the long-established Brotherhood in the last year. The Muslim Brotherhood has the biggest parliamentary bloc.
“There is a mosque where you can make the call to prayer. This chamber is for discussion,” Katatni shouted at Ismail, a member of the Asala Party, one of the smaller Salafi groups represented in the new parliament.
The biggest Salafi group is the Nour Party, which won over a fifth of the seats, making it the second largest force in the chamber after the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which won more than 43 percent.
Katatni accused Ismail of grandstanding. “You are a respected lawyer Mr. Mamdouh. Do you need a media show? Who are you addressing?” he said to applause from sympathetic MPs.
Ismail’s visibly angry response was not audible in the broadcast. The bearded fundamentalist caused controversy in parliament last month during his swearing in by adding the words “so long as it does not oppose God’s law” to the standard oath.