A Salafi (Arabic: سلفي) is a Muslim who emphasises the Salaf ("predecessors" or "ancestors"), the earliest Muslims, as model examples of Islamic practice. The term has been in use since the Middle Ages but today refers especially to a follower of a modern Sunni Islamic movement known as Salafiyyah or Salafism, which is related to or includes Wahhabism, so that the two terms are often viewed as synonymous. Salafism has become associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam and, in the West, with the Salafi Jihadis who espouse violent jihadagainst civilians as a legitimate expression of Islam. It's been noted that the Western association of Salafi ideology with violence stems from writings done "through the prism of security studies" that were published in the late 20th century, having persisted well into contemporary literature.  More recent attempts have been made by academics and scholars who challenge these major assumptions. Academics and historians use the term to denote "a school of thought which surfaced in the second half of the 19th century as a reaction to the spread of European ideas," and "sought to expose the roots of modernity within Muslim civilization."
Just who, or what groups and movements, qualify as Salafi remains in dispute. In the Arab World, and possibly even more so now by Muslims in the West, it is usually secondary to the more common term Ahl-as-Sunnah (i.e., "People of the Sunnah") while the term Ahl al-Hadith (The People of the Tradition) is more often used in the Indian subcontinent to identify adherents of Salafi ideology, a term which in the Middle-East is used more to indicate scholars and students of Hadith. All are considered to bear the same or similar connotation and have been used interchangeably by Muslim scholars throughout the ages, Ahl al-Hadeeth possibly being the oldest recorded term used to describe the earliest adherents while Ahl as-Sunnah is overwhelmingly used by Muslim scholars, including Salafis as well as others, such as the Ash'ari sect, leading to a narrower use of the term "Salafi". The Muslim Brotherhood includes the term in the "About Us" section of its website while others exclude that organisation in the belief that the group commits religious innovations. Other self-described contemporary salafis may define themselves as Muslims who follow "literal, traditional ... injunctions of the sacred texts" rather than the "somewhat freewheeling interpretation" of earlier salafis. These look to Ibn Taymiyyah, not the 19th century figures ofMuhammad Abduh, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, and Rashid Rida.
According to the 2010 German domestic intelligence service annual report, Salafism is the fastest growing Islamic movement in the world.
In a recent crackdown on radical Islam, German authorities have launched nationwide raids on an ultra-conservative religious group - the Salafists. They're suspected of having links to extremists and posing a threat to democracy. But for years the movement has enjoyed conditions that've made it thrive, as Oksana Boyko reports.
A group of Salafists attacked an art exhibition, Le Printemps des Arts, in La Marsa, (north suburb of Tunis) destroying some of the art works deemed blasphemous to Islam. The small, yet grave incident, soon grew in proportion when hundreds of Salafists - or thugs - attacked a police station in La Marsa, burnt a tribunal in Sidi Hussein (south of Tunis) and stopped police and firefighters from intervening. Clashes with police were reported in two neighborhoods throughout metropolitan Tunis and coastal city Sousse.
The aftermath led to a curfew, starting from Monday, June 12th, after the escalation of violence, in Metropolitan Tunis, Sousse, Monastir, Tabarka, and in other inland regions, including Gabes and Ben Guerdane.
An Interior Ministry official was quoted by the media as saying 162 people had been detained and 65 members of the security forces wounded in the incident.