Egypt II

September 13, 2013

OK, I was too optimistic. The military government quickly began acting like a typical military government, demonizing its bête noire the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood), throwing  MB leaders in jail and threatening to put them on trial, using force against any public show of opposition. They defend their actions by invoking the threat of conspiratorial Islamism, and by their actions they give further encouragement to the very thing they oppose. As usual, opposite extremes feed on each other.

There are still signs however that Egypt may be ready to transcend the army/mosque dichotomy. After a brief honeymoon dominated by relief at being rid of Morsi, at least some secular elements of civil society have remembered why they opposed the Mubarak dictatorship in the first place. Some secular liberals have been demonstrating along with the Ikhwan; the latter in turn have stopped putting restoration of Morsi front and center of their demands. The military has for its part broadened its repression to include secular liberals, which can only increase the likelyhood of a rapprochement between the latter and the more moderate of the Ikhwan. If they can just learn to trust each other, and to earn each other’s trust; if they can just learn that the only way forward is as an Islamic but not Islamist society, one where headscarves are neither compulsory nor prohibited, where the laws are claimed to be rooted in “Islamic values” but do not seek to enact Shariah in any specific way, they just may be able to build a movement that can put an end to junta rule once and for all.

If not this year, then another… the possibility is still there for them to grab onto.

Of course reports of actual armed Islamist rebellion Sinai aren’t going to help…

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