On Politics and Islamism

Illustration by Amalia Rinehart

Political inequity, more than just the economic explanations of poverty, was responsible for the ferocity of the revolution. The consistent fraud, increased police brutality, and the fears of strategic power transfer to Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal, in addition to the semi-recent success of revolutions in Eastern Europe, South America, South Africa, and finally, Tunisia, were what sparked this revolution. Of course, the fuel for this flame was given by the economic despair entangled with widespread corruption in government as well as the private sector.

The current state of affairs in Egyptian politics is steeped in the practical concerns of working with a new parliament. Under the freest elections in the country’s history, 30 percent of seats were won by far right-wing Salafists and 40 percent by the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood. Then, there is the worrying possibility that the Salafists who sit on the Education Committee may attempt to Islamize the schools, eliminate the rights of women to travel freely, get a divorce, and work and study alongside men.

But perhaps most interesting was that secular liberal parties concurred with the Salafist demand to constitutionally establish Shariah as a major source of law for the country. Otherwise, the Salafists would have pushed further for Shariah, and would not have guaranteed the rights of the Copts and other minorities, leading to deep division in the country. With Egypt’s constitutional assembly members named on March 23, optimism for Islamist MPs acting in a “reasonable” fashion will be determined very soon. Sunday’s news that a bloc of Liberal MPs had walked out of the selection vote was certainly not promising.

Dr. Mohamed Aboulghar

Professor of Gynecology at Cairo University and founder of the liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party discusses the causes of the Egyptian revolution, Islamism, and the prospects of democracy in Egypt.