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‘Martyrdom’ paves a way to stronger Egypt, Salafist leader says

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The only way to build a strong Egypt is to have tens of thousands fight and be “martyred” under the name of God, a prominent Salafist politician told worshipers during a televised sermon on Friday.

“So what if a hundred or a thousand, or even ten thousands are martyred to build a long-prevailing nation,” Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a former presidential candidate, said. “There is no other plan but to be martyred.”

During Egypt’s democratic presidential elections last year, analysts believed Abu Ismail could make it to the second round of the election.

Salafists in Egypt have long refused to participate in politics as they viewed the autocratic rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak as “un-Islamic.”

After the 2011 revolution, however, they said that they decided to take part in politics in order to protect Egypt’s Islamic identity.

Egyptian liberals and Islamists clash

Abu Ismail’s Friday speech comes as the country is witnessing deep divisions between supporters of President Mohamed Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and those against him in the country.

While Egyptian Salafists and the Brotherhood had feuds before, observers may describe Abu Ismail’s comments as a way to threaten liberal forces in the country and show backing to any Islamist group, including the Brotherhood.

On Friday, at least 30 Egyptians were wounded in clashes between liberal opposition activists and thousands of Islamists rallying outside the Supreme Court in central Cairo demanding “the cleansing of the judiciary.”

Opposition activists fear the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to purge many judges so Islamists can install new ones more supportive of their agenda.