Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "Visit the Pyramids before it is too late" is the ironic comment posted one of the more 100,000 Egyptians who reacted online to a statement by a Salafist leader Salem al-Gohary, who recently urged Egyptians to destroy the Pyramids and the Sphinx because they symbolise idolatry. "All the statues worshipped in the past or that could be worshipped should be torn down. This is our duty," he told Dream TV.
Seen around the country, the video of the interview has had a negative impact on Islamists, who are accused of sharing al-Gohary's views and of planning to impose their will on all Egyptians through the constitution.
Available on the TV show's webpage, the video was viewed by more than 100,000 people, eliciting thousands of comments.
A young blogger, Sheikh Ahmad Raef, slammed the Salafist leader, noting that "whoever wants to destroy the Pyramids actually wants to destroy the Egyptian people. [. . .] We shall not allow anyone to wipe out our history. Egypt was once a civilisation ruled by pharaohs. We shall continue our ancestors' struggle against the Salafists' oppression and ignorance."
Another commentator, Ahmad, challenged Sheikh Gohary's logic. "If the sheikh wants to destroy the Pyramids because he fears people might worship them, he should do the same with fire, which primitive men worshipped once, and with cows because they are a great threats to national peace."
With more than a touch of irony, Ahmad also urged the Salafist leader "not to forget those people who like male and female genitals, which means that it is our duty to take precautions and mutilate our bodies."
A blogger called Zeinobia urged the international community to act before it is too late. In his or her view, Gohary's position is not an isolated one. Many people connected with the Salafist movement would have no scruples to act. "It is necessary to intervene to protect the sites of Giza, Luxor and Aswan," the posting said, "where attempts to disfigure and destroy statues have already been made."
Twitter has also seen an avalanche of comments against Gohary's statement, some using sarcasm to describe the Salafist leader and his fellow Jihadists as repressed, relying on violence as an outlet.
One commentator, Ennoz, came up with a great idea, namely "put a big beard on the Sphinx, and a huge black burqa on each Pyramid, thus preserving the monuments by changing them to fit Qur'anic precepts."
In reality, what has really shocked moderate Egyptians is President Morsi's silence.
In response to such criticism, the Freedom and Justice Party said on its Twitter account that they would be the first to defend the Pyramids and all Egyptian monuments because it is a matter of national security.