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August 2, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 2, 2013 Egyptian Salafi straddle fence By Michel Stors The Media Line CAIRO--Muhammad Rizq slowly ascended the pulpit at the AI-Munira mosque in I mbaba, a poor northern Caire neighborhood. His brusque leg movements made the wood creak with every step. "What do the people want?" he asked his flock rhetorically, "Do we want Islamic law or what the (Muslim) Brother- hood offered--civil strife?" As Egypt splits into two rival camps pitting secular- ists against Islamists, the puritanical Salafis are on the sidelines unsure of their next move. Salafis are Sunni Muslims associated with a strict, literal approach to Is- lam. They support the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to in- ject a more Islamic hue into a society that has been governed by secularists for 60 years. But they are uneasy about the organization's divisive tendencies and go-it-alone approach. Despite their newly discov- ered neutrality, A1-Nour, the larges t Salafist partywas a key element of the coalition that deposed President Mohamed Mo rsi of the Brotherhood. The Salafis provided the largely secular organizations the Watermelon and music breaking down barriers By Linda Gradstein The Media Line MUSRARA, Jerusalem- It is virtually impossible to eat a watermelon by yourself. The juicy red fruit begs to be shared, and in a large vacant lot just outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, all kinds of people are sharing plates of watermelor and salty cheese. The event is called "The Meeting Point" and it harkens back to the 1970s when this area, which was a no-man's land between Israel and Jor- dan from 1948 to 1967--was home to watermelon stands that brought Jerusalemites together. Today, the organiz- ers have built a large wooden "bar" serving watermelon and salty cheese, along with a performance stage. Every night for two weeks, there are free performances ranging from belly-dancing to poetry readings. Entrance is free, and patrons sit on small rattan stools. All of the material used to build the wa- termelon stand is recyclable, as is the mulch on the ground. "The problem between us is the leadership, not the people," Maher Al-Mufrah, a Palestinian who runs a small humus restaurant near the Damascus Gate, told The Media Line. "We can com- municate, sit and talk and maybe we'll come up with some new ideas." Spearing a piece of wa termelon, Nader Hussein, another Palestinian agrees. "We all live together in one city," he says. "I have a lot of Jewish friends, and we help each other. The atmosphere here is very nice. The problems are with the government. We all want to live. We all have children and want a better life for our children." The event costs about $100,000 to stage--most of it covered by donations from foundations. The vibe at the event is laid-back hippy. Young couples carry babies in wrapped shawls, and sev- eral have brought their dogs along. Musrara also has a mix of ultra-Orthodox Jews and young students. "We live in this neigh- borhood and we wanted to support this project, ' Itamar Arvut, a student of psychol- ogy at Hebrew University told The Media Line. "We also wanted a chance to meet people from the eastern side of the city, which we rarely get to do." Although Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, most Jews and Arabs in the city live separately. Of Jerusa- lem's 800,000 residents, about two-thirds are Jew- ish and one-third are Arab. Most of the Palestinians choose not to accept Israeli citizenship. The project also hopes to break down barriers between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents of the city. "I live in the Old City. of Jerusalem," Shulamit Yisrael said, referring to the area that has sites holy to Juda- ism, Christianity and Islam. "We used to have all kinds of Jews there--ultra-Orthodox, regular Orthodox and non- religious--but today it's completely ultra-Orthodox." She said she was looking forward to meeting different kinds of people at the event. Organizer Hamutal Vach- tel says there is no political agenda to the event--just an opportunity for different kinds of Jerusalemites to bond over watermelon. "There is so much conflict in Jerusalem," she told The Media Line. "It may sound na'l"ve but by bringing simp|e people to come and sit to- gether and meet each other something interesting can happen. The real peace will happen between people and it Will happen here on the seam line." This neighborhoodwas also the birthplace of the Israeli Black Panthers in the early 1970s, a protest movement for advocating for equality for Jews that immigrated from Arab countries. Organizers say they hope that spirit of justice will permeate rela- tions between Jews and Arabs as well. "Jerusalem should be with- out any walls or boundaries," Lana Remez, an activist for Israeli-Palestinian coexis- tence told The Media Line. "I try to encourage people to let the mental boundary fall first. If we anticipate fear, fear will exist. The harder work for all of usis to find the unity, harmony and tolerance." religious cover they needed to portray their revolt as being against dictatorship and not religion. "The protesters could have never deposed Morsi without some religious backing," A1-Ahram Strategic Studies Center Fellow Emad Gad told The Media Line. "And AI-Nour gave it to them." But as quickly as they offered .their support, the Salafis retracted it when they learned NobeJ, laureate and arch-secularist Mohamed ElBaradei would be named prime minister in an interim government. "Egypt is an Islamic coun- try," Al-Nour leader Dr. Hisham Abu Nasr told The Media Line. "It has no place for anti-Muslim men like ElBaradei." Worshippers at the A1- Munira mosque agree. They believe that ElBaradei, who is a former head of the Interna- tional Atomic Energy AgeDcy, and his secularist clique is bent on Westernizing Egypt rather than returning it to its Islamic roots. "We need more religion, not less," says 35-year old fruit vendor Yusuf Darwish. But when asked why he sup- ported AI-Nour's decision to back the anti-Morsi forces, he replied, "because the sheikhs say so." That is a common refrain in the Salafi world and explains why the movement has his- torically supported the gov- ernment in power rather than seeking to topple them like other Islamist movements. Saiafis rely on the Quranic verse "0 believers, obey God, and obey the Messenger and those in authority among them" to explain their sup- port for secular governments. Such backing has sheltered them from the crackdown other Islamist movements have experienced, allowing them to build educational and social networks throughout the Arab world. "The Salafists are very strong here," notes Muham- mad Salah, Cairo bureau chief of the pan-Arab daily AI-Hayat. "If they step out )f line politically, they could lose their support from above." But maneuvering between their social base's desires and the tacit sulport they need to receive from the authorities to prosper has become a delicate balancing act, At the Ibn Al-Jawzi Salafi center in the southern city of Giza, Atif Sha'ban illustrates this dilemma. The 43-year old teacher is thankful for the job he has preaching to disillusioned youth. But he is equally frustrated with AI- Nour's decision to bring down the first Islamist government Egypt has known. "The Brotherhood was good for Islam," he tells The Media Line pointing to the adolescents in his center. "Morsi helped Islam. Why do we need to go back to the (President Hosni) Mubarak years," he asks, referring to the president deposed in 2011. PAGE 13A Analysts here say that Al- Nour had very little wiggle room in the days leading up to the June 30th coup. ,'The army helped make the Salafis a powerful politi- cal force after Mubarak fell," notes Cairo University politi- cal science professor Mu'taz BillahAbdAI-Fatah. "AI-Nour owes the generals and they cashed-in on June 30." Average Egyptians though scoff at any talk of collusion between the Salafis and the militaiy. "We don't support the military," says 43-year old construction worker Kamal Fahmi. "We support stability and that is why AI-Nour went with the army. We need time to repair Egypt." But with Egypt's politi- cal factions jockeying to establish themselves in the post-Muslim Brotherhood era, it is doubtful Al-Nour will have much more time to buck the desires of a military it desperately needs in order to remain relevant. SEND YOUR NEW YEAR GREETINGS TO FRIENDS AND RELATIVES WITHOUT LICKING A STAMP If you're like most people, you'll probably wait until the last minute to send your annual Jewish New Year greetings. And, like most people, you will probably truly regret having waited so long. However, once a year, prior to Rosh Hashanah, you have the opportunity to wish your family and friends and the Jewish community "A Happy and Healthy New Year" through the Special Rosh Hashanah Edition of HERITAGE. No Postage-- No Problems-- No Excuses! .Having your personal NewYear Greeting appear in the HERITAGE Special Rosh Hashanah Edition, shortly before the holiday begins, will save you time, money, inconvenience and worry about whether or not your cards were delivered. You won't leaveanyone out, because your family and friends will be among the thousands of members of the Jewish community reading this special edition. Deadline for Greetings is August 23, 2013. BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR Or your personal message) YOUR NAME A $19.70 P"x 2" D $78.80 31/4"X 4" May you be inscribed in the Boo, of Lift for a Happy and Hea-00hy Year (or your personal message) YOUR NAME May the New Year be ever joyous You andYour Family (or your personal message3 YOUR NAME E DATE OF ISSUE: $98.50 31'4"X 5" August 30, 2013 L'Shana Tova Tikatevu (Or your personal message)' YOUR NAME B $39.40 31/4"X 2" REETINGS AND BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR I- (Or your personal message) YOUR NAME ! C $59.10 31/4"X 3" Mail to: HERITAGE GREETING, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730 I[ Please run my greeting in your holiday issue I would like ad (circle one) A B C D E. enclosing a check in the amount of $ (all ads must be paid for in advance). [ Or please bill my credit card (check one): Visa Master. Card: Card No. II Expiration Date . Signature Name Address ] City/State/Zip I Name(s) on greeting should read: L If you have any questions, call HERITAGE at 407-834-8787. J