The Salacious Salafi: Was It Just A ‘Clerical Error?’

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Al-Ahram has published an account of a salacious encounter of an Egyptian Salafi who is a former MP.

“Egyptian authorities have decided to put on trial a Salafist ex-MP who was caught allegedly performing an “indecent” sexual act with a woman in public, a judicial source said on Thursday.

Ali Wanis’s trial is set for Sunday and will take place on time although he has gone missing since police found him last month engaged in a sexual act with a 22-year-old woman in a car parked on a highway.

The woman, a university student, is behind bars and the public prosecutor’s office has ordered the arrest of Wanis, a cleric and former MP for the ultra-conservative Al-Nour party.

After the incident in early June, Wanis denied any wrongdoing and said in a video posted on his website that he had parked along the side of the road because his passenger “became sick.”

But the pair have been accused of performing an “indecent” sexual act in public.

Al-Nour party, won the second largest number of seats in parliamentary elections last winter after the Muslim Brotherhood.

It was hit with a scandal in March when another lawmaker was forced to resign from parliament and from his party after claiming he was injured in a carjacking — to explain bandages on his face — when in fact he had had a nose job.”

Wow — a blow job and a nose job and the appeal of Salafism takes a nose dive. Sheikh Wanis was a prominent member of the ultra-conservative Al-Nour party, which advocates returning to the values at the time of the Prophet. I suppose the fact that there were no automobiles around in the Prophet’s time suggests that the sheikh did not violate any specific hadith condemning sex in a car with a 22-year old, although the many traditions and Quranic injunction against adultery would seem rather out of place, even in 21st century Egypt.

Such hypocrisy is not confined to conservative Muslims, of course, as anyone who remembers Jim Bakker (whose glitzy website ignores the fact he once seduced a Long Island girl), Jimmy Swaggert (whose official online biography does not mention his encounter with a prostitute), and Ted Haggard (whose website says he had a “personal moral failing”). So there is hope for Ali Wanis, if these Christian precedents are an indication of the gullibility of people to fall for religious rhetoric.

He may even survive his shame as an adulterer to launch his own television show or even a virtual megamosque. As of today I have not seen any indication that the Al-Nour party is calling for the medieval punishment of stoning. So perhaps Sheikh Wanis can breathe a sigh of relief that this outmoded form of punishment is no longer practiced in Egypt. After all, it was just a clerical error.

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