Most Egyptians Don’t Want a Secular Government


Dave Schuler makes a point about Egyptian politics that’s far from new, but perhaps deserves to be repeated a little more often than it is: most of the population of Egypt doesn’t want a secular government. It wants an Islamic government, as the election results from two years ago show:

Of the parties listed above, the Democratic Alliance (parties allied with the Muslim Brotherhood—37.5%), the Islamist Bloc (Salafist parties even more radical than the DA—27.8%), and Al Wasat (3.7%) are all Islamist parties with an aggregate total of 69% of the vote….It’s possible that after the unpleasant experience with Morsi that public opinion may change, but in what direction? Most Egyptians are clearly not liberal democrats.

In my view the greatest likelihood is for either a return to the status quo ante, perhaps a kinder, gentler Mubarak or another Islamist government, a Morsi who isn’t Morsi. Societies depend on institutions and the two strongest institutions in Egypt are the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Egypt, you can either have a secular government or you can have a democracy. You probably can’t have both.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Nugent summarizes Egyptian polling data, which paints pretty much the same picture:

Recent survey data suggests that the vast majority of Egyptians are Islamists….In April 2013, Pew released a report titled “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics, and Society,” which included a nationally representative sample of 1,798 Egyptians….74 percent favored making sharia the official law of their country….Of those who favored making sharia the law of the land, 70 percent wanted sharia to apply to both Muslims as well as non-Muslims….94 percent wanted religious judges (instead of civil courts) to decide family and property matters; 70 percent wanted corporal (hadd) punishments for crimes; 81 percent supported stoning as punishment for adultery; and 86 percent supported punishing those who converted from Islam with death….Arab barometer data collected in June 2011 also found that 80% of a 1200-person nationally representative sample of Egyptians agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “The government and parliament should enact laws in accordance with Islamic law.”

More at the link.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.