Reading up on the various strains of Islam finds some interesting parallels with Christian movements. The hard-conservative Salafis are a case in point.
On one level, the Salafis remind me of Restorationists (Campbellites) looking to reestablish the early church without two millennia of stray tradition and added doctrine, getting back to the New Testament basics; the Salafis are looking to the 7th century as their benchmark when Islam was new and close to the original. On that level, we might have fellow comrades on some issues of the day if it is simple Ten Commandments-level morality.
However, one key difference between a Christian going back to basics is that we don't have a tradition of Christian government; from a worldly perspective, Jesus never ran anything but His mouth. We don't have hands-on experience on how Jesus would have run a government, or even how Paul or Peter would have served as a prime minister or President. Thus, Christian back-to-basic are more theological in nature and have little political economy in the mix.
Conversely, Mohammad did run a good hunk of Arabia before he died. Muslims have more of a track-record of Mohammad and his early successors as political leaders as well as mosque leaders. Couple that with a lack of church-state separation in Muslim thought makes their theology political and their politics theological.
That makes modern Salafis problematic in the public square, since democracy wasn't in the mix in early Muslim history that they look to as normative; that's new stuff that is best avoided as impure to them.
Note that only a minority of Salafis are violent, but they are the ones that get the press, like the guy who wants to trash the Pyramids. Interestingly, you have folks appealing to the Salafi love of early Islamic history to save the condos made of stone-
But in retaliation to Gohary’s remarks, the vice president of Tunisia’s
Ennahda party, Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, called the live program and
told Gohary that famous historic military commander Amr ibn al-Aas did
not destroy statues when he conquered Egypt.
“So who are you to do it?” he wondered. “The Prophet destroyed the idols because people worshiped them, but the Sphinx and the Pyramids are not worshiped.”
Hopefully, they'll learn to adapt to a democratic system that may be flavored by the Koran, but not as strict as they'd like; that is going to be a touch-and-go proposition. Before we cast too many stones, recall that we had the Alien and Sedition Acts a decade into our Constitution era; the Egyptians and other Arab democracies might have to fumble towards their own version of a viable political culture.