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In this undated image posted on a militant website, fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) march in Raqqa, Syria. (Associated Press)
In this undated image posted on a militant website, fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) march in Raqqa, Syria. (Associated Press)

Egyptian Responses to ISIS

How local groups reacted to the news of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate
by Yosra El Gendi

Al-Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which occupies large tracts of land in both nations, announced on June 29, the establishment of an “Islamic caliphate” and called for Islamic factions in various parts of the world to pledge allegiance. A statement by the spokesman of ISIS, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, declared the name of the new state as the “Islamic State” and pronounced ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph.

The statement warned Muslims that upon the declaration of the Caliphate it has become a duty for all Muslims to swear allegiance and their support to Caliph Ibrahim (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), and not recognize the legitimacy of any other emirates, communities, states and organizations, over which ISIS prevails.

This announcement alarmed many political groups as well as average citizens in Egypt, in addition to the rest of the Arab world. The Arab-West Report produced a special report to survey the responses of the various Islamist groups and religious institutions in Egypt to ISIS’ advance.

The prime Sunni religious establishment, Al-Azhar, was silent, not issuing any fatwa to delegitimize the so-called the ‘caliphate.’ Many individual Azhar scholars, however, have done so, rejecting the Caliphate in principle.

The International Union of Muslim Scholars rejected the way this Caliphate was announced, ruling it null and void, but making it clear in no uncertain terms that they seek the establishment of a Caliphate sooner rather than later.

The Muslim Brotherhood, facing much internal turmoil, has failed to issue a statement reflecting consensus among the organization’s members.

The most prominent political Salafi group, al-Daawah al-Salafiah, has clearly rejected the declaration, calling ISIS the Kharijites of this era.

Many authors in the Egyptian media, however, are discussing how the government’s iron-fisted security policies, without the dual track of dialogue, have contributed to the radicalization of some insurgent groups in Sinai, making them lean towards ISIS. Looking at the June 30 explosions at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, these writers point to the possibility of other Islamist groups further radicalizing should these iron fisted polices continue without a political dialogue.

Reprinted with permission from the Arab-West Report

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