Egypt’s military: Some Islamists manipulated by Western politicians

Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) warned Thursday against Western links with some Islamist groups to create sectarian strife in Egypt.

Pro-Zionist Western politicians “have been smart in manipulating different Islamist groups to create strife and divisions [among Muslims and Christians] using Islam itself,” said SCAF member General Sami Diab during a seminar held on Muslim-Christian relations.

Those politicians, according to Diab, “have been working to distort true Islamic values, which have long been the founding common ground for the [peaceful] co-existence between Islam and Christianity” throughout Egypt’s history.

The Egyptian general blamed those politicians, whom he did not name, of “eroding confidence between Muslims and Christians and turning their shared beliefs into grounds of sectarian sensibilities.”

To overcome inter-religious tensions, Diab explained, Muslims and Christians must liberate their belief systems from “foreign political ideologies.”

Diab’s statements might reflect a potential rift between Egypt’s military rulers and different Islamist groups over the course of the country’s transition to democracy after a period of what is described by some Egyptian analysts as a “honeymoon” between the two parties.  

On Wednesday, the Salafi Group of Alexandria denounced calls by secular forces for a million-strong demonstration in Tahrir Square slated for 7 July to pressure the government in favor of writing a new constitution before holding parliamentary elections.

In an unprecedented move, the influential group warned SCAF against endorsing such calls, saying that such a response would “put the military council’s legitimacy in question,” and would produce chaos and destruction in Egypt.

Several secular forces have called for drafting a permanent constitution before the September parliamentary elections for fears that Islamists, who are widely perceived as the country’s most organized political force, will dominate parliament and thus have greater say over how the constitution is drafted.

Last week, Egyptian authorities arrested a US-Israeli national on allegations that he is a Mossad officer accused of establishing links with Salafis thought to be behind a May attack on a church in Imbaba neighborhood, western Cairo.

In order to delegitimize Islamist opposition movements, Mubarak’s regime had long portrayed them as being funded by foreign governments.

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