President Anwa Sadat has delivered a blunt warning against religious interference in Egyptian political life and deplored the attractin that Islamic fundamentalism is exerting on Egyptian youth.
Making it clear that he would not tolerate political activity based on Islam of kind that has been cropping up throughout the Moslem world, Sadat said there could be "no religion in politics, no politics in religion."
The president's remarks, reported on the front pages of today's Cariro newspapers, where made in a speech at Alexandria University, where there has beena strong resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism among the students.
He coupled his earning with an attack on the Moslem Brotherhood, an extremist organization nthat was suppressed for allegedterrorist activites by Sadat's predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser, but has recently returned to a prominent place in Egyptian life.
Sadat is devoutly religious and takes pride in his claim that he runs Egypt according to virtues laid down in the Koran. But his warning against religious-based iterference in politics came as no surprise. Sadat has always stepped in when any kind of popular sentiment or movement, left or right, threatens to upset the country's political balance. The strong nationwide Islamic fundamentalist movement was sure to encounter presidentail restraint sooner or later.
The events in Iran have heightened sensitivity to the political implications of religion in many Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Egypt.
Her, Islam is the state religion but political parties based on religion are prohibited and daily life is largely free from religious restrictions. Periodic attempts to rewrite Egyptian laws to conform with Islamic codes never get anywhere, at least partly because Sadat heads them off.
The president has incurred the opposition of some orthodox Moslems, including the Moslem Brotherhood, because he has worked to preserve the distinction between religion and public policy.
The Moslem Brotherhood was supporting the Iranian revolution inspired by that country's religious leaders many months before it succeeded, and it has criticized Sadat for his continued loyalty to the shah.
In his Alexandria speech, Sadat said that the Brotherhood had "changed from a religious organization to an underground terrorist organization," a charge leaders of the Brotherhood deny.
Islam, Sadat said, "is not killing and assassination." He expressed regret that "pieces of the old organization have arisen to occupy our children... We should fill the vacancies in the lives of our youth so that they are not occupied with false religious ideas."