Here in a village nestled deep in the Nile Delta, the growing flock of religious leader Muhammad Said Raslan is a sign of the increasingly powerful opposition to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood from within the broader Islamist movement.
Sheikh Raslan is on the far right of the ultraconservatives known as Salafis. He believes good Muslims do not vote or get involved with politics because they should devote their lives to "true religion", meaning a deep understanding of the teachings of Islam unadulterated by "innovations" such as democracy and literature.
Before the 2011 uprising that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak and set the country on a rocky path to democracy, Sheikh Raslan said it was wrong for Egyptians to rebel against the president - an unpopular view at the time that was criticised by some fellow Salafis.
Yet attendance at his Friday sermons has quadrupled to 4,000 since then, according to Sheikh Raslan's son, Abdallah.(...)
Sitting in a pink-accented majilis filled with fake flowers, Abdallah Raslan, 27, said his father's steadfast rejection of politics was among his greatest draws for Egyptians as well as dozens of Salafis from around the world. The dilapidated village is also home to followers from the US, Kazakhstan, Japan and Russia, among other countries.
"He never deviates," Abdallah said. "He will not meet with any political leaders. He will not give interviews. He only gives sermons."
Sheikh Raslan's rigid beliefs have made him one of the most influential critics of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has risen in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising to become the most powerful political group in Egypt. Mohammed Morsi, a former top official of the Brotherhood, was elected as president in June and the group's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, won nearly half the seats in the first parliamentary elections in 2011 and 2012.(...)
Sheikh Raslan then directed his comments to the Egyptian people: "You're a nice, oblivious people that suffered great wrongs. You are about to receive the severest punishment in an age of corruption that claims to be transitory, even though it is more corrupt. Their marriage with the authorities will be like Christian marriage - without divorce. Those people, if they are able, will get into your pores and your minds, mingle with your blood, and take possession of the key posts of power in the country in such a way that they will only be able to be dislodged by spilling rivers of blood."
More on: http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/egypts-true-and-pure-sheikh-leads-salafis-against-brotherhood