Not at all. After Friday prayers, hundreds of protesting Salafis marched out in the streets with Wanis, shouting anti-police slogans and conspiracy theories.
Just as Egyptian secularists have long argued, Islamists like the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood hide behind a mantle of piety and morality—yet, when it comes to it, such piety and morality is not something they strive to live by, but rather a weapon to use against non-Islamists, who are by default always portrayed as corrupt, immoral, etc.
Quick to grow beards and have a zabiba—the callous forehead mark produced by head-banging on the floor during Muslim prayers—Islamists like Wanis are more concerned with outer signs of morality, even as they engage in forbidden sexual relations, which are banned on pain of death by their own Sharia. They strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Yet there is more to it than this. Operating according to the Islamic notion of niyya, or “intention,” no doubt the Salafis have concluded that, even if Wanis is guilty, admitting it only harms the Islamist movement’s progress—hence, the best strategy is to deny it. After all, in the words of their prophet Muhammad, “War is deceit”—and the Islamists have certainly been treating the elections as war.
Speaking of equivocation and sex, immediately before this scandal, another prominent Egyptian Salafi, Osama al-Qusi, declared that it is permissible to view sex scenes in movies—“so long as the plot calls for it,” concluding, in the words of Muhammad, that “deeds are judged according to intentions.”
Sex scandals can strike any politician’s career. What is important, here, however, is that a sex scandal has just struck the one political party in Egypt whose only appeal is that it stands for morality, religion, and “family values.” It has nothing else to offer—and now it doesn’t even have this, as its thin veneer of piety continues to slip away.
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