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

Why I voted for Mursi

Jun 05

With the second-round of the historical Egyptian presidential election fast approaching, Egyptian activists are deeply divided, with some arguing in favor of one or another of the two candidates, on the grounds of choosing the lesser of two evils with disagreements over which candidate is the “lesser” of the evils, another group advocating a boycott of the final round, and a third advocating voters indicate their support for a “revolutionary” candidate by intentionally invalidating their ballots.  I, for one, have no doubt that the best outcome for the run-off, the one that maximizes the likelihood that the revolution will achieve its goals, is that Muhammad Mursi, the presidential candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (“FJP”), defeats Ahmad Shafiq, an old regime stalwart and Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister before being forced to resign by revolutionary forces. 

Read More

The Troubling Disorganization of Egypt’s Liberals

Jun 21

Bobby Ghosh at Time has a blog entry today disparaging the democratic skills of Egypti’s liberals and suggesting that, by contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood has a much better understanding of how democracy actually works.  There is little to disagree with in Ghosh’s post except that he perhaps understates the inability of the “secular” or “liberal” forces in Egypt to compete effectively in a democratic system.  The reason for this failing, I think, has little to do with the the inherent unattractiveness of liberal ideas in Egypt as much as it does with the class divisioins that are rife in Egypt, and that lead many of the liberal elite to believe — although they will never say so explicitly — that they are entitled to rule because they are the “best” of Egyptian society, the “awlad al-nas,” so to speak.  Parties that are actually popular are dismissed as demagogues or as exploiting the ignorance of the Egyptian masses.  Indeed, one prominent Egyptian liberal, a justice on the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, no less, suggested that the votes of illiterate Egyptians should be weighted 1/2 of those of educated Egyptians.

Read More