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Egyptian women cane Salafi vigilantes after beauty salon swoop

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A group of ultra-conservative Salafis got more than they bargained for after bursting into a beauty salon in the Egyptian town of Benha in an attempt to enforce “God’s law” on the women inside reported the online newspaper, Bikya Masr.

The women were told to stop what they were doing or face physical punishment from the group.

But instead of complying out of fear, or calling for help, the women took matters into their own hands by striking back.

They beat and whipped the vigilante gang “with their own canes before kicking them out to the street in front of an astonished crowd of onlookers,” Egyptian online newspaper, Bikya Masr, reported.

The surprise raid on the salon was part of a string of similar “inspection checks” on other retail businesses to check for compliance and that shop owners and customers abided with “God’s law.”

This included telling shop owners “they could no longer sell ‘indecent’ clothing, barbers could no longer shave men’s beards, and that all retail businesses should expect regular and surprise inspections to check for compliance,” the newspaper added.

It is unclear how other shop owners and customers have responded to the Salafi patrols in Egypt, similar to Saudi Arabia’s morality police.

The strict segregation of the sexes is encouraged within the Salafi sect, with many of its women wearing the niqab and gown for full coverage.

The Egyptian group has also reportedly smashed Christmas trees and decorations in front of stores and malls, declaring the celebration of Christmas “haram” or forbidden.

‘Morality police’ links to al-Nour

The newspaper linked the vigilantes to the newly-established group, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

It announced its presence in Egypt the Dec. 25 through a new Facebook page carrying a statement linking it to the infamous body by the same name in Saudi Arabia.

But last week Al-Azhar, Egypt’s central mosque, announced its rejection to the formation of the so-called committee, to which the group replied on Facebook:

“The Committee, which millions of Egyptians have agreed to, and expressed their desire to see its members diligently apply God’s law, draws the attention of our brothers in Al-Azhar to what happened in the last elections when millions of citizens voted for Salafi parties,” the committee’s statement read.

Their claims suggest they are a part of the Salafi al-Nour Party, which has won close to 30 percent of seats in parliament in the ongoing lower house elections so far.

But the party has publically denied any connection with this ultra-conservative group, including financing them, according to al-Nour’s Facebook page.

(Written by Eman El-shenawi)