Friday, May 21, 2010

Historically Apolitical, Sufis Now Side With the State

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, May 21, 2010 (IPS) - Although Egypt's many Sufi orders have traditionally been known for keeping a safe distance from politics, recent events suggest they are now closer than ever to the ruling regime.

"The Sufi orders have practically become part of the state apparatus," Abdel Menaam Mounib, head of the Islamic affairs department at independent daily Al-Dustour, told IPS. "Sufis can now be found in all branches of the regime, including the judiciary, the police and the military."....

"Since then, all of Egypt's rulers have tried - with increasing success - to co-opt the Sufis," he said. "And since Nasser's time, the orders have become extremely close to the ruling party."

Notably, Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand sheikh of Egypt's influential Al-Azhar religious establishment - appointed by Mubarak in mid-March - is also a Sufi and ruling party loyalist....."

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