Just a few months ago, no one would have imagined that at the beginning of April a delegation of Egyptian Muslim Brothers would visit Washington — let alone be warmly welcomed inside the White House and the State Department. Even more surprising, it now appears that the Egyptian Salafis — the Muslim Brotherhood’s more conservative Islamist counterparts in Parliament — have grown jealous of the Brotherhood’s warm reception in America’s capital. A credible source close to the Salafis confirmed that they, too, now desire a visit to Washington.
The main Salafi political party, al-Nour, captured approximately 24 percent of the Parliament’s seats in last winter’s election. An inaugural Salafi visit to the U.S. is likely to occur as part of a larger delegation of Egyptian parliamentarians that includes representatives of all political parties. A trip under these circumstances would be acceptable to both the Salafis and the Obama administration, and could be justified as a step towards bridging the substantial cultural and political gap between the two sides.