The following letter was written in 1928 by the French Colonial Minister, Léon Perrier, to the Governor General of French West Africa. Mr. Perrier could see clearly then what Western officials are unable to see, or refuse to see, or are in active collaboration with in the year 2017.
Mr. Perrier was warning against the dangers of Salafism, which at that time was confined to North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Now it has penetrated almost the whole of Western Europe, and there is no obvious way to get rid of it.
The minister’s letter also happens to coincide with the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The image at the top of this post recently surfaced on Twitter. I don’t know the provenance of the original document, or who took the photo.
Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation:
Colonial Ministry — Paris, April 24, 1928
Department of Muslim Affairs
Request for information on #I74 [sic]
“Salafiya” in AOF [French West Africa]
to the Governor General of AOF [French West Africa]
For a few years now, there has been a renewal movement in the Islamic world that should, it seems, be attracting our attention.
This intellectual movement known as the “Salafi” movement tends to realize reforms in the religious order which must return the practices of worship to the purity of primitive Islam. Although it is developing outside the influence of IBN SEOUD and the Ulemas [Sunni Islamic scholars] of the Nedjd, [Nejd or Najd, central part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] it is not unlike, at various points, Arabian Wahhabism, and has sometimes been confused with it. It is already very active in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. It seems that the Communist agitators are interested in it, as they are interested in anything that can disturb the established order, exalt particularisms and cause confusion. But even if it is not used by European elements hostile to our influence, the “Salafi” movement does not fail to present, from the point of view of public order and the maintenance of our authority, serious dangers against which it is necessary to protect ourselves. Its actions, as is the rule in Islam and in all religious schisms, will certainly leave the theological field and become political. On the other hand, this religious reform, in fact, attacks all the religious personalities whose attachment to the reigning tradition and devotion to our cause allowed them to occupy a leading position. It is also hostile to the congregations that have such a large place in the religious life of the Muslims of the AOF [French West Africa] and whose contributions we have appreciated.