Politicization of the Salafi Movement: The Emergence and Influence of Political Salafism in Egypt

By Tore Hamming

Abstract: Based on the theoretical framework of French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, this article analyzes the transformation of the Salafi movement in Egypt in the post-Mubarak period. Originally a movement with an exclusive focus on religion, the ouster of Mubarak and the democratic process it initiated turned Salafi groups into political actors. This article seeks to describe how Salafis, historically ardent critics of political engagement and democracy, try to adapt to their newfound political role and explain if such politicization is feasible without losing religious legitimacy. Addressing a situation still surrounded by much uncertainty, the article argues that through this double involvement, Salafi groups risk losing legitimacy within both their religious and political constituencies.

About the Author
Tore Hamming is a Master of Science candidate in the International Security program at Sciences Po-Paris, where he specializes in radical Islamic thought. He is currently conducting research on the diffusion of Salafi and Shiite doctrines in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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