It is worth noting that the official letter dates from 1928, the year of the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organisation which is at the root of most of the world’s Islamic extremism today.
A request for information on the Salafiyah in French West Africa, April 1928. pic.twitter.com/QU7eZbiydc
— Andrew Lebovich (@tweetsintheME) September 4, 2017
Translated from the original French, the letter reads as follows:
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 worthy of our attention.
This intellectual movement known as the “Salafi” movement tends to promote 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.