Egypt’s struggle to democratize appears highly convoluted and complex. Its details are governed by the weighty historical legacy that frames Egyptian identity. The 2011 Revolution and its aftermath may be leading toward a resolution of the century-old conflict between three intellectual visions of the modern Egyptian state. The first favors the various models and ideas for the Islamic Caliphate—from al-Afghani and Mohammed Abdu to Rashid Rida and Hassan al-Banna. The second favors the European version of modernity, and finds its champions in Taha Hussein and Tawfiq al-Hakim. The third vision talks of a uniquely Egyptian mix promoted by Lutfi al-Sayyid and was fully developed by its true champion, Gamal Hamdan, who coined the term Shakhsiyyat Misr, referring to a unique Egyptian identity.
Against this background, Egyptian political developments since June 30, 2013 have provoked enormous debate, domestically and abroad, that is marked by the polarization between these historical divisions, except that two camps, those promoting Egyptian identity and those European modernity, have dug in together against the partisans of the Islamic Caliphate in their varied party and intellectual formations. In the current struggle, the Islamist camp tenaciously rejects the course of recent events, which it considers to be a coup against legitimacy and a war against Islam. The other side, however, sees it as the will of the people, who employed democratic means and were backed by the armed forces—one of the pillars of Egyptian patriotism.
The role of Egypt’s old and new media in mobilizing public opinion and formulating policy will be circumvented in this analysis in the hope that a sociological analysis of Egypt’s changes may be a more effective way to ensure objectivity and impartiality and achieve a realistic assessment of the drives and mechanisms for change in Egypt, and the likelihood of a democratic transition driving progress materializing in Egypt. This assessment provides an interpretation of why the Brotherhood lost power in Egypt after just one year and an investigation into Egypt’s chances to achieve real democratic transition.
*This study was originally published in the September 2013 issue of Siyasat Arabia (pp. 24-30), published by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS).
It was translated by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing Department. The original Arabic version can be found here.
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