Prospects for Democratization in the Arab World in Light of the Exclusion of Political Islam

May 01

The latest issue of al-Ruwaq al-`Arabi, a journal published by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, is dedicated to the question of the future of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The entire issue (in Arabic) can be downloaded as a pdf from here.

Read More

What Killed Egyptian Democracy? — A Boston Review Forum

Jan 21

This month’s issue of the Boston Review’s Forum was dedicated the question of what went wrong in the Egyptian transition.  I had  the honor of writing the principal piece, which elicited thoughtful responses from my colleagues, Ellis Goldberg, Andrew March, Nathan Brown, Akbar Ganji, Anne Norton and Micheline Ishay. Space restraints, of course, did not allow them a full response, nor me a response to their limited responses, but nevertheless, I thought the editors of the Boston Review did an excellent job putting this forum together. I would like to thank them for inviting me to write the piece, inviting these distinguished scholars to respond, and producing an excellent final version for the public. Finally, I’d like to thank Nader Hashimi and Danny Postel for inviting me to the University of Denver to lecture on Egypt’s transition. That lecture ultimately give birth to this forum.

Read More

Morsi and the Legality of Early Presidential Elections

Aug 15

Those inclined to blame Morsi and the MB for all that has happened focus on his refusal to move forward with early presidential elections. I have been trying to get an answer to this question for a long time, and no one, as far as I know, has bothered to attempt an answer: by what legal authority could Morsi have set new elections? There was a law governing presidential elections (which I believe was in fact drafted by none other then the current interim president, Adli Mansur), and the constitution even set out the timing of presidential elections. Assuming that early presidential elections was constitutionally feasible, a law authorizing such elections would have had to be passed. I’m not arguing that Morsi would have done so; I think there are good reasons why the MB feared early presidential elections, at least in the absence of a parliament, but as I recall events during the #Jan25 revolution, people were very concerned that Mubarak’s resignation would cause a constitutional crisis. Persons like Hossam Bahgat even wrote a column in the Washington Post addressing the constitutional crisis that would arise if Mubarak simply left.

I have read reports that Morsi was indeed willing to resign once a parliament had been elected precisely to avoid a constitutional crisis that would allow for the return of military rule. This was not an unreasonable position, if true. Whatever one’s views of Morsi or the MB, did we Egyptians not at least owe it to ourselves to exhaust constitutional possibilities prior to empowering the police and the army, with an all too predictable result?

Perhaps the MB would not respect election results, God knows, but they would have no standing at that point. Now, they are martyrs and Egypt stands at the precipice of collapse.

Read More

Amending the Egyptian Constitution of 2012: The Defeat of Popular Sovereignty

Aug 14

I originally had hoped to publish this as an op-ed somewhere, but events are spiralling out of control so quickly in Egypt that the concerns I raise here seem so trivial as to be almost laughable.  Nevertheless, since I wrote it, I decided I might as well post it on my blog.

Read More

“Legitimacy, Revolution and State Formation in Sunnī Poltical Theology”

Aug 09

I contributed a post to There is Power in the Blog: Political Theology with the title “Legitimacy, Revolution and State Formation in Sunni Political Theology” that discusses the tension in Sunni political theory between the idea of the legitimate ruler and the usurper, and applies these concepts to the current crisis in Egypt.

Read More

Amending the Egyptian Constitution of 2012: the Triumph of Corporatism over Popular Sovereignty

Aug 07

Following the coup/revolution of June 30, one of the tasks  of the interim government is to amend the 2012 Constitution.  This will take place as follows.  A committee of ten experts in constitutional law will propose amendments which will then be submitted for debate to a committee of 50 persons who are to represent the various groups, sectors and institutions comprising Egyptian society.  After the text is agreed, it will then be submitted to the people in a referendum for its approval.According to this story in today’s al-Misri al-Yawm, the Egyptian Presidency has announced the guidelines by which these fifty will be selected.

Read More