CAIRO: Protests called for by the conservative Islamist Salafist Front group to be held on Nov. 28 will be confronted by armed Interior Ministry forces if the gatherings become lawless, according to a Sunday statement by an Interior Ministry spokesperson.
“Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim stressed decisiveness in dealing with any outlaws and will seriously confront all recent calls,” said ministry spokesperson Hani Abdel Latif in comments to the New Evening TV Show on Tahrir TV Channel. He added in statements to the state-owned MENA news agency that any attack on a public or police facility would be responded to with live ammunition.
Abdel Latif’s comments came in response to questions about the ministry’s security preparations and plans to deal with the calls for “Islamic Revolution” put forward by the Salafist Front earlier this month. He said the use of weapons in handling the scheduled protests will only be if necessary, and according to the law.
Nov. 28 marks the approximate anniversary of the deadly Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes that took place in 2011 in downtown Cairo, and in which at least 40 people were killed and thousands injured. The Salafist Front claimed on their Facebook page to have had an influential role in the clashes, and to have lost members there.
“To reject [foreign] domination, topple military rule and for the victory for [Islamic] identity,” are according to the Salafist Front’s Facebook page, the group’s main goals in calling on “Muslim Youth” to take to the squares to demand the application of Shariah law in their heralded protests. However, the Front’s Facebook page said in a Nov. 15 post the protests would be peaceful.
But the front has still called for an “uprising” against thousands of detentions and “the killings of Egyptian Muslim youth in all Egypt’s streets and squares,” under the rule of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Other salafists show little love for Salafist Front
The Salafist Front’s latest call to action may be in the Interior Ministry’s peripheral, but many in Egypt’s political and religious scene—and even their fellow salafists—have been largely dismissive of its latest announcement.
Salafist Nour Party spokesperson Shreif Taha told Television host Wael al-Ibrashi in a Nov. 2 phone call the Salafist Front members were few, aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and “have no relation with our [Nour] Party.”
Al-Azhar Institute advisor Mohamed Mena, also speaking on New Evening in a phone call Sunday, said the front’s latest proclamations were just more of the same. “These slogans have been raised before, all of them meant to start a religious scuffle,” he said.
For its part, the Ansar al-Sunnah al-Muhammadiyah group, along with its leaders Mohamed Hassan and Hussein Yaqoub, demanded in a statement quoted by Al-Masry Al-Youm that all Egyptians not listen to the “peccant” calls to protest in November.
Additional Reporting by Aya Samir.