Egyptian Islamists Admit: 'We Want to Return to the Middle Ages'

Egyptian Islamists Admit: 'We Want to Return to the Middle Ages'


Welcome to the new "free and democratic" Egypt, where the most ruthless opponents of freedom and democracy the world has ever known are poised to rule. From the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review:

If a new political force here has its way, public stonings, whippings and the lopping-off of hands will become the law in the Land of the Pharaohs.

It all would help return Egypt to "an Islamic state (of) the Middle Ages," in the words of one Salafist.

Even before President Hosni Mubarak fell from power on Feb. 11, many Western and Egyptian analysts worried that the world's most populous Arab nation -- and America's most crucial Arab ally of three decades -- might tumble into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood, founded in 1928 as the world's first Islamist party, has long demanded religious rule in Egypt, inspiring similar movements across the Middle East.

Yet it isn't the only Islamist faction grasping for power -- or even the most radical. Several groups are arising, including at least one former terrorist organization.

Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya fought the Egyptian government in the 1980s and '90s until most of its members were killed or imprisoned. Its bloodiest attack, in 1997, slaughtered 58 tourists and four Egyptians in Luxor, a major tourist attraction. Like the Brotherhood, it now has formed a political party to campaign in parliamentary elections set for this fall.

I interviewed a member of this group, a wanted terrorist named Yasser al-Sirri, last year in London. You can watch our interview, which was part of a larger story about the rise of jihadism in Britain, by clicking on the viewer below.

It's only a matter of time, I'm guessing, before al-Sirri returns to Egypt to join the exploding Salafist movement there.

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