Salafis and the politics of resentmentPosted: November 5, 2011
There are many dangerous aspects to the Salafis, none perhaps more than their lethal brew of anger and resentment. The Egyptian elite has often looked down on the rest of the population. And the Salafis are adept at presenting the views of the liberals as yet just another foreign “bid’a” or innovation. They practice a thoroughly effective form of “us against them” politics. Effective since it plays on real slights that much of the population has suffered from the government and the well-off classes.
As much as the majority of the population is indeed a victim of condescension and exploitation, the politics of resentment is a dead end. Unless the liberals combat this trend effectively, but involving themselves in the daily struggle of the people, it will magnify with every downward economic trend. And many such trends are in the offing before the situation can be turned around.
The Salafis recycle justified anger into isolationism and paranoia. Their politics will be effective only in furthering their goals, and isolating Egypt, leading to economic and cultural collapse. Saudi Arabia minus the oil. The Salafis are not innovators in this respect. Nasser used very similar methods, and Salafis are either consciously or unconsciously are aiming to follow in his footsteps. But Nasser, as incorruptible and serious as he was, was also unsuccessful in providing Egypt with a long range strategic model for progress and development.
As much as the “Khawagas” have humiliated Egyptians, they have also benefited them. There is no real path forward to Egypt without a thorough integration with the West and Asia. When humiliation is turned into productive energy Egypt will have achieved moral and economic victory. Egyptians will gain when they reach for the universal in themselves.