The support of the Salafist Nour Party for the military coup against President Mohammed Morsi has stunned many people inside or outside Egypt. Not only did the ultraconservative Islamic party back the removal of Egypt’s first Islamist president, it also blessed the road map imposed by the military junta for Egypt’s torturous, ongoing transition. Therefore, the important, acute questions are why did the Nour Party choose to take part in the coup and what were party leaders thinking during the decision-making process? Even more important, what will the consequences be for the party's future?
Three primary factors drove the Nour Party's calculus in the military-Muslim Brotherhood standoff. First is the long-standing feud and tension between the Salafists and the Brotherhood that intensified after the latter took power. Over the past year, Nour’s leaders perceived the Brotherhood — rather than liberals and secularists or the military — as their main adversary. True, both parties have occasionally cooperated, particularly during the period of hastily writing the new constitution, but it has been for tactical purposes. Thus, after passage of the constitution, the Nour Party became sharply critical of the Brotherhood-led government. The relationship between the two organizations peaked in antagonism in February, when Morsi sacked Khaled Alam Eldin, his Salafist advisor and senior member of the Nour Party, following allegations of corruption. After that, the party became the main opposition to Brotherhood rule.