Across the last decades, the Islamist landscape of Egypt has split between different streams: categorised as Muslim Brothers (also referred to as “Ikhwanis”), Salafis and Jihadis. While this study outlines the most salient features of the Ikhwani and Salafi ideological brands and summarises their respective trajectories through time, it also addresses their contradictory connections with violent Jihadism. The diachrony of events has led to highlighting two well-documented ongoing processes in President Al-Sisi’s Egypt: an unprecedented repression campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood on one hand, and the partial co-optation of politicised Salafis on the other. It has also allowed to bring out another two-pronged pattern, opposing an all-out war against violent – Jihadi and non-Jihadi – actors (dubbed as khawarij, or “outlaws” having left Islam), and the promotion of Azhari Islam (considered “lawful” and moderate). This subtle framing mechanism at work projects a deceiving image of contemporary Egypt abroad, both maximising the reassuring feelings that come with any “campaign against terror” and downplaying the chilling reality that authoritarian rule and security challenges are proliferating at an alarming speed in the ancient land of the pharaohs.

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Research line: Middle East and North Africa

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Security & Strategy 149

Blacklisting Ikhwanis, Tolerating Salafis, Killing Jihadis:
The Islamist Landscape of Egypt

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