Costa Salafis or Salafyo Costa (Arabic: سلفيو كوستا Salafiyo Costa) is an Egyptian movement that aims to challenge religious stereotypes and promote tolerance and cooperation between people from different social and religious backgrounds. The movement was founded in 2011, and it is involved in political, social and Human Rights activism.
Costa Salafis was founded in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution in Egypt by a group of activists, amongst them Mohamed El-Bahrawi, Ezzat Tolba, Mohammad Tolba, Ehab El-Kholy and Ahmed Samir. Its members are mostly moderate Salafis but they also include liberal Muslims and Christians.
The name of the movement was invented by co-founder Mohammad Tolba, after he tried to arrange a meeting at a branch of Costa Coffee in Cairo and was asked by an administrator whether Salafis really go to places like Costa.
Role under the SCAF regime
The movement was founded on 6 April 2011 following the Constitutional Referendum, when differences between liberal and Islamist groups began to emerge. The intention of the founders was "to keep the unifying spirit of Tahrir alive", as well as to challenge common stereotypes about Salafis.
In the summer of 2011, the movement participated in sit-ins and demonstrations against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in Tahrir Square, together with liberal groups such as the April 6 Youth Movement.
In October 2011, members of the Costa Salafis took to the streets to defend Copts during the Maspero massacre, when a march for Coptic rights was crushed by the army. And in November 2011, members of the movement participated in the Mohamed Mahmoud protests against military rule.
Role under President Morsi
In August 2012, following pardons by President Morsi for several hundred revolutionaries convicted by civilian courts, the Costa Salafis joined the April 6 Youth Movement, the No to Military Trials campaign and other activists in silent sit-ins and human chains to demand the release of all prisoners convicted in military trials.
In December 2012, when clashes happened between supporters and opponents of President Morsi following his Constitutional Declaration, the movement called on the Muslim Brotherhood to recognise the liberal opposition and urged them not to mix religion with politics.
Role following the military coup
On 14 August 2013, when in the aftermath of the military coup against President Morsi, security forces carried out a violent crackdown on sit-ins by supporters of the deposed president, in which hundreds of protesters were killed, the movement announced its withdrawal from the political scene.
On 2 September, the movement released a statement in which it explained that it is temporarily withdrawing from the political scene due to the deep divisions and tensions in Egyptian society, "to take a step back until everyone regains their balance", but that it would continue its Human Rights activities "to defend the oppressed, regardless of their political affiliations" and its "social role in helping the needy and the marginalised".
On 27 November, after the issuing of a restrictive protest law, the arrest of well-known political activists and harsh jail sentences against female protesters, the Costa Salafis posted the following statement on their Facebook page: "Our protected government, our lofty judiciary and our virtuous police are pushing us hard towards a third revolutionary wave, but stronger than the previous ones. May God be with you, Egypt. The revolution continues".
Besides its political activities, the movement also organises regular medical caravans with Muslim and Christian participants, often to places where there is mistrust between members of the two religions.
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- "تعلن حركة سلفيو كوستا خروجها بشكل نهائي من المشهد السياسي". Facebook. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
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- "حكومتنا المصونه و قضائنا الشامخ و شرطتنا الفاضله يدفعونا دفع نحو موجه ثوريه ثالثه". Facebook. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.