Rift intensifies as Muslim Brotherhood and ultraconservative Salafis manoeuvre politically ahead of parliamentary vote.
The growing public split between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis has grabbed the headlines in Egypt over the past few weeks as the Islamist factions jockey for power ahead of parliamentary elections.
In a series of new conferences and statements made over the last month, leaders of the Salafi al-Nour party have launched an unprecedented public attack on the Muslim Brotherhood, its political arm the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and President Mohamed Morsi himself, accusing all of failing to lead the country, appointing a weak government, and power-grabbing.
Further complicating Egypt's tumultuous political scene, a court ruling issued last week suspended the elections originally scheduled for next month, and ordered a review of the election law by the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Salafis adhere to a puritanical interpretation of Islam. For decades they were forced to stay away from politics fearing persecution, and instead focused on religious preaching and social work.
Established in May 2001, the al-Nour party surprised many observers after winning about 25 percent of parliamentary seats during 2011-12 elections, making it the second most powerful political force in the country after the Muslim Brotherhood.
The political rift between the two groups has also spilled over into the religious realm. Several Salafi leaders resigned from The Islamic Legitimate Body for Rights and Reform (ILBRR) - a religious group established after the 2011 revolution to help coordinate efforts among Egypt's rising religious political forces - accusing it of falling under the Muslim Brotherhood's influence.
The coalition includes 119 of Egypt's top religious scholars and activists, and it has helped Islamists converge on political issues, including the constitution, elections, public rallies, and support for Morsi during the presidential elections.
The ILBRR is politicised. It is always biased toward the Muslim Brotherhood," Ashraf Thabet, deputy chairman of al-Nour told Al Jazeera.
Thabet said his party's latest actions are a response to the behaviour of the Muslim Brotherhood. He accused Morsi of appointing numerous unqualified Brotherhood leaders to senior posts to consolidate control over the country's executive branch, while ignoring al-Nour's political reconciliation initiative.