Still, given the Brotherhood’s setback in Egypt, ultraconservatives are looking for an opening. And their grassroots programs, including education and aid to the poor in the provinces, leave them much better organized than secular parties.

The Salafists adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam, deeply rooted in the Koran. They will be “a winner in this phase and will be the leader of political work in the Islamist current, because they calculated the recent political equation very nicely,” said Gamal Sultan, an analyst and newspaper editor. “They have been rational and well thought out. … But it’s a gamble.”

Nour epitomizes that description. It won about 25% of the vote in last year’s parliamentary elections and became a nominal ally of the Brotherhood, which won nearly 50%. While the Brotherhood hewed to authoritarian tendencies, Nour was more fluid. At times, it sided with the secular opposition against efforts by Morsi and the Brotherhood to accumulate more power…

“Nour gained a lot of credit for siding with the people during and before the June 30 protests,” said Ali Bakr, an expert on Islamist movements at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “It gave them a great image as an Islamic party that is playing moderate politics and working for their own survival without subjecting the country to the possibility of internal violence.”