Despite the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper calling Egypt’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement “largely secular.” in early February, the Muslim Brotherhood is now calling for virtue police, which were prevalent in medieval Islamic societies to enforce public virtue and modesty.
Officials of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s leading Islamic group, have called for the establishment of a Saudi-style modesty police to combat “immoral” behavior in public areas in what observers say in another sign of a growing Islamic self-confidence in the post-Mubarak era.
In the political sphere, the Brotherhood led a successful drive to get voters to approve a package of constitutional amendments. On the street level, at least 20 attacks were perpetrated against the tombs of Muslim mystics (suffis), who are the subject of popular veneration but disparaged by Islamic fundamentalists, or salafis. After some initial hesitation, Islamic leaders have publicly praised the revolution.
“This is incredibly worrying to many Egyptians,” Maye Kassem, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo (AUC), told The Media Line. “The salafis were always undercover in Egypt and now they are emerging as a political force. They are getting too vocal.”
Newly freed from the political strictures of the Mubarak era, Egypt has turned into a battleground between those who envision a liberal, secular state and those who advocate various shades if Islam. The conflict mirrors those taking place elsewhere in the region. In Bahrain, unrest has evolved into a conflict between Sunni- and Shiite Muslims and the US has pulled back from supporting Libyan rebels over concerns they are dominated by Islamists.