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Egypt, Fundamentalism and Democracy Mariam  Elias     Published  Spring  2005                              

Mariam  Elias   900020055   SOC  210   To  Dr  Said  Sadek                                          

Egypt, Fundamentalism and Democracy Probably,  you  might  be  familiar  with  this  title.  Actually,  I  have  been   reading  Saad  Eddin  Ibrahim‘s  book,  Egypt,  Islam  and  democracy.  This  book  has   really  inspired  me  to  write  this  paper  and  thus,  I  have  a  title  that  resembles  the   books  title.   I  will  start  my  essay  with  the  last  word  in  the  title  that  is  democracy.  In   fact,  after  amending  the  constitution  and  changing  Article  76,  word  like  “reform”,   “democracy”,  and  “democratization”  started  to  be  in  style.  Press,  Media,  and   public  in  general  consider  this  step  a  breakthrough  in  democratizing  Egypt.  In   fact  it  is  a  huge  step  in  the  democratization  process.  Yet,  it  is  still  a  process  that   needs  several  developments  and  transformations.  However,  one  of  the  main   requirements  of  democracy  is  that  every  one  would  have  equal  political  national   rights.  This  is  not  the  case  in  Egypt,  this  is  because  the  rights  of  some  sects  in   society  such  as  women‘s  and  Copt’s  rights  are  profoundly  violated  and  neglected.   Worse,  after  understanding  the  Islamic  fundamentalist’s  ideology  I  concluded   that  democratization  and  political  rights  are  impossible  in  their  presence.  That’s   why  I  will  highlight  first  why  women  and  Copts  do  not  enjoy  equal  citizenship   and  political  rights  like  others.  Then  I  will  explain  how  the  presence  of  these   Islamic  fundamentalists  has  exacerbated  the  issue  more.    

Women:   Although  women  are  given  the  right  to  vote  and  to  be  elected  for   presidency,  society  and  religion  seem  to  be  an  obstacle  to  this  right.  Nawal  El   Sadawi,  a  prominent  psychiatrist  and  a  novelist,  whose  writings  have  been   translated  to  many  languages  and  taught  at  different  universities,  is  thinking  of   running  for  presidency  because  it  is  her  right  as  an  Egyptian  citizen.  Still,  when   conducting  in-­‐depth  interviews  with  AUC  students,  “A  man  is  a  man”  or  “women   are  too  emotional”  were  typical  answers  that  the  interviewer  received.  These   interviews  gave  me  a  lot  of  insights  on  how  the  Egyptian  population  thinks  and   why  they  believe  it  is  impossible  for  a  woman  to  rule.  It  seems  that  the  difficulty   of  accepting  a  female  president  can  be  traced  to  religious,  social  and  traditional   reasons.  All  three  factors  are,  of  course,  interrelated,  but  each  of  them  has  a  huge   effect  on  Egyptians.     One  of  the  very  important  influencers  on  Egyptians  is  religion.  Since  the   majority  of  Egyptians  are  Moslems,  Islam  may  influence  their  thought,  ideas  and   behavior.  However,  many  passages  in  the  Quran  or  at  least  the  way  they  are   interpreted  challenge  the  presence  of  democracy  in  the  Egyptian  society.  Afaf  Al   –Sayyid,  for  instance,  author  of  “Women  in  the  Eyes  of  Men,”  notes  that  some   sayings  of  the  Quran  encourage  the  male  dominance  in  society  (p.9).  “Men  are   caretakers  of  women  since  God  favored  some  over  others  and  because  they   spend  of  their  wealth,”  is  one  of  those  passages  that  the  author  refers  to.  She   adds,  that  other  passages  grant  the  man  double  the  portion  of  a  woman  in   inheritance  and  also  specify  that  two  female  witnesses  are  needed  to  testify  in   court  (Al-­‐Sayyid,  9).  This  shows  that  males  are  positioned  and  perceived  as  

superior  to  females,  especially  as  the  formers  are  given  more  rights  and   appreciation  in  different  fields  of  life.  So,  no  wonder  that  Egyptians,  who  are   Muslims  in  majority,  are  very  critical  of  Nawal  el  Saadawi  or  any  other  female   that  has  the  courage  to  run  for  presidency.      Also,  this  stresses  the  fact  the   equality,  which  is  one  of  the  fundamental  principles  of  democracy,  is  not  present   even  between  the  different  genders  in  society.  So,  how  come  we  are  talking   about  democratizing  Egypt  through  the  modification  of  an  amendment,  when  we   can’t  really  implement  democracy  in  our  daily  lives  and  in  our  simple   relationships  with  one  another?     Further,  Al-­‐Sayyid  explains  that  control  over  females  would  not  exist  if   women  “like  men  could  inherit  property  and  manage  it,  thus,  competing  with   men  in  the  marketplace”  (p.11)  The  inequality  by  the  Islamic  law  imposed  on   women  intensifies  the  negative  and  degrading  perception  of  women  in  the   Egyptian  society  in  specific  and  the  Arab  society  in  general.  If  religion  puts   women  in  an  inferior  position  to  men,  why  then  would  any  Egyptian  dare  and  let   a  female  rule  over  a  whole  country  with  all  the  males  in  the  society?  So,  it  seems   that  religious  beliefs  encourage  the  population  at  large  to  degrade  some  citizens   of  their  rights  and  told  hold  them  unworthy  of  enjoying  their  benefits  as   Egyptian  citizens.  In  one  of  the  Hadiths,  for  example,  it  is  said  that  “women  lack   brains  and  religion”  or  “naquisat  aql  wa  din,”  reported  Al-­‐Sayyid  (p.10).  This   means  that  no  one  can  entrust  a  woman  with  responsibility  and  a  president,  of   course,  carries  the  responsibility  of  a  whole  nation.  So,  the  way  religion  is   perceived  and  interpreted  in  our  society  is  a  great  obstacle  to  having  females  as  

leaders.  It’s  an  obstacle  to  making  democracy  an  integrated  part  of  the  Egyptian   society.     Not  only  religion  but  also  society  affects  the  way  many  Egyptians  think.   Haidi  Meleka,  Mass  Communication  senior,  for  instance,  noted  that  many  people   assume  that  women  cannot  deal  with  emergencies  and  pressure  and  would   therefore,  be  reluctant  to  vote  to  a  female  president.  This  was  very  clear  in  one  of   the  interviewees’  statements.  One  of  them  said  that  he  would  not  elect  a  female   president  because  females  are  too  emotional.  Also,  Bassem  Meleka  said  “I  don’t   think  a  female  can  rule  a  whole  country.”  So,  there  are  certain  embedded  beliefs   in  the  Egyptian  society  that  are  shared  by  many  people  from  different   backgrounds  and  with  even  different  levels  of  education.  These  beliefs  assume   that  women  are  incapable  of  dealing  with  responsibility  and  making  good  and   effective  leaders.  Most  of  the  beliefs  ruling  in  our  society  make  a  woman  running   for  presidency  look  bizarre  and  she  may  be  perceived  as  a  too  rebellious  person.   So,  how  likely  is  it  that  someone  may  stay  apart  from  the  majority’s  opinion,   stand  out  in  the  Egyptian  society  and  vote  for  el  –Saadawi  or  another  female   candidate?  So,  Egyptians  are  not  used  to  the  ideas  and  principles  of  democracy.   We  are  not  used  to  respect  others  and  recognize  their  rights  as  citizens.  We  seem   to  have  strongly  held  beliefs  that  we  use  to  judge  others  and  to  make  excuses  for   stripping  people  of  their  rights.     Tradition  is  also  one  of  the  important  factors  that  students  referred  to   and  that  is  very  much  related  to  the  issue  of  a  female  president.  “We  do  not  like   change,  we  refuse  any  change  even  if  it  was  good,”  reported  Engineering  Senior   Ramy  Abu-­‐El-­‐Yazeed.  Also,  Engineering  Senior  Mourad  Makram,  agreed  with  

Abu-­‐El-­‐Yazeed  on  the  fact  that  Egyptians  fear  any  change  adding,  “We  vote  only   for  those  we  know.”  This  is  also  why  many  attacked  Qasim  Amin,  reported   Meleka,  especially  as  his  views  were  very  different  from  traditional  ones  held  by   the  majority.  So,  Egyptians  like  the  status  quo  even  if  it  is  not  perfect.  “A  lot  of   girls  I  know  are  happy  with  the  current  trends  in  culture,”  said  Rafla.  This   implies  that  the  fact  the  women  are  degraded  in  the  Egyptian  society  and   prevented  from  occupying  influential  positions  in  not  challenged  by  the  majority.   Even  those  who  have  access  to  liberal  and  high  education  abide  by  the  traditions.   In  an  Arab  Society  class  at  AUC,  for  instance,  the  instructor  asked  male  students   if  they  would  let  their  wives  work  and  most  of  them  denied  this.  So,  even  though   these  students  are  among  the  best  educated  in  Egypt,  their  views  and   perceptions  of  women  are  influenced  by  the  traditions  of  our  society  more  than   anything  else.  So,  even  if  the  government  opened  the  road  to  democracy  and   gave  the  people  all  the  facilities  needed  to  exercise  and  make  use  of  their  rights,   society  and  tradition  will  still  prevent  this  change  from  happening.     When  asked  in  one  of  the  television  interviews  why  Egypt  was  not  a   democratic  country,  President  Mubarak  answered  that  Egyptians  were  not  ready   for  democracy.  Even  after  the  constitution  has  been  changed  to  allow  for  more   freedom  and  democracy,  it  seems  that  the  problem  really  lies  with  the  Egyptian   people.  We  have  strong  embedded,  anti-­‐democratic  beliefs  that  guide  most  if  not   all  of  our  actions.  That  is  why  a  new  law  that  gives  everyone,  even  women,  the   chance  of  being  elected  to  presidency,  will  not  be  taken  advantage  of  by  the   population  just  because  we  fear  change  or  anything  that  challenges  our  

traditional  ideas.  Another  minority  in  the  society  that  doesn’t  enjoy  its  full   citizens’  rights  are  Copts.       Copts:   The  issue  of  “political  reform”  and  Copts  tackles  with  two  important   aspects.  The  first,  concerns  with  nationalism  and  political  rights.  According  to   Saad  Eddin  Ibrahim,  “Islamists  naturally,  base  the  political  bond  of  culture   society  and  state  on  religion.”  (Ibrahim,  Saad  Eddin).  This  excludes  non-­‐Muslims   from  having  any  top  post  such  as  heads  of  state,  governors  and  member  of  the   judiciary.  Not  only,  top  officials,  but  also  deans  of  universities,  top  officials  or   police,  (mamour),  2%  only  are  in  the  military  school.  “Their  rationale  is  that   holders  of  such  offices  not  only  perform  temporal  rules  but  also  carry  out   religion  duties.”  (  Ibrahim,  Saad  Eddin  )  .  Article  two  ,in  the  constitution  states   that  “  Islam  is  the  religion  the  state  and  that  Arabic  is  its  official  language  ,Islamic   jurisprudence  is  the  principle  source  of  legislation”  .  This  means  that  head  of   state  must  be  a  Muslim,  and  that  the  Islamic  sharia  would  be  a  source  of   legislation,  both  interpretation  did  not  seriously  “Impede  the  integration  of  non-­‐   Muslim  in  the  polity”  (Ibrahim,  Saad  Eddin).  Another  aspect  of  his  debate  is  how   the  Islamic  groups  see  Copts  .  Do  Islamic  groups  consider  them  citizen  and  thus   have  ,full  and  complete  political  rights  or  does  they  consider  (  ahl  el  Zima  )  !  The   purist  Islamists,  for  example,  exclude  Copts  from  the  polity  because  for  them   they  are  “  protected  communities”  (  ahl    dihma  )  ,  thus  they  would  run  their  own   communal  affairs  ,pay  Jizya  as  long  as  they  recognize  the  souvernity  of  Islamic   state  .  (  Ibrahim  ,  Saad  Eddin  )  .  According  to  sameh  Fawzy  ,      vice  manager  of  

watny  newspaper  that  in  august  ,80  ,  MB  published  a  fatwa  that  violates   Christians  rights  and  that  the  assembly  of  guidness  and  political  reform  (  maglis   llarshad  oaleslah  al  syasy  )  .  “  The  Islamic  movement  decides  their  position  for   Copts  nationalism  or  citizenship.”  Said  sameh  .     Two  similar  terms  were  emerged  to  illuminate  religion  from  the  state  .   The  first  is  “  Arab  nationalism”  .  It  stared  last  decade  of  the  Ottoman  Empire  .  It   emerged  as  a  reaction  of  both  ottoman  despotism  and  young  Turks  taurine   chauvinism.”  Saad  said  .  (  Ibrahim  ,Saad  Eddin  )  .  It  states  that  Arabic  identity   would  be  based  on  culture  and  language  .  Arab  nationalism  is  a  good  solution  for   the  political  system  in  Egypt  .  It  allows  the  non-­‐Muslim  community  to  be   integrated  in  the  polity  .  Secularism  ,  in  my  opinion  is  parallel  to  democratization   .  It  helps  all  citizenships  enjoy  equal  rights  of  citizenship    regardless  of  race   ,religion  and  sect  .  The  question  is  why  we  include  religion  in  our  identity  ?  .   Identification  of  people  by  creed  and  religion  is  trait  of  demodernization.  Surely  ,   it  is  impossible  to  implement  Arab  nationalism  in  Egypt  especially  with  the   presence  of  Islamic  movements  .  A  very  similar  term  is  Egyptianness  .  “  Egyptian   nationalism  was  born  on  the  eve  of  World  War  I  and  become  popular  in  the   country  during  struggle  against  foreign  domination  ,Christian  leaders  were   among  its  chief  advocates  and  ideologues  ,  as  it  was  both  constant  with  Coptic   historical  legacy  and  political  beneficial.”  (  Aylon  ,Ami  ).     Another  aspect  in  the  Copts  dilemma  is  Copts  civil  and  social  rights  .   Several  problems  encounter  this  issue  .    First,  according  to  Ami  Aylon  is  “the  mist   engulfing  the  question  of  Coptic  demography?”  (Aylon,  Ami).  How  many  Copts   are  there  in  Egypt  and  what  is  their  share  in  the  population.  According  to  Ami  

Aylon,  the  church  claims  that  no  less  than  18%  of  all  Egyptians  are  Christians;   the  government  on  the  other  hand  claims  that  they  are  around  6%.  Other   scientists  claim  that  it  is  10%  .  This  has  created  a  puzzle  since  there  are  any   claims  about  Copts  demography.  The  second  problem  was  the  rise  of  Islamic   militancy  .  Actually,  the  root  of  violent  clash  started  on  November  1972  when  a   Coptic  church  was  set  on  fire  in  Khnaka  north  of  Cairo  (Ami,  aylon).  The  problem   was  exacerbated  under  the  presidency  of  Anwar  Al  Sadat.   Firstly,  the  Islamic  groups  including  the  brother  gained  much  support   from  Sadat  as  he  tried  to  counter  balance  the  opposition  of  the  Nasserites  and   the  leftist.  Secondly,  the    banish  of  the  pope  Shunda  by  Sadat  in  1981  (Aylon,   Ami).  Moreover,  around  the  death  of  Sadat  the  Islamist  under  the  authority  of   “Umar”Abdl  Al  Rahman  released  a  Fatwa  ,  which  stated:   “Christian  belongs  to  three  categories:  those  who  kill  Muslims,  Those  who   support  church  with  money  and  arms  in  order  to  harm  Muslims,  and  those  who   do  not  cause  any  harm  to  Muslims.  An  eye  or  an  eye  must  be  exacted  from   Christians  in  the  first  category,  while  Christians  in  the  second  category  must  be   deprived  of  their  wealth.  But  no  harm  should  come  to  Christians  in  the  third   category.”    (Aylon,  Ami).   Worse,  in  1934,  the  Egyptian  government  specified  ten  restrictions  for   building  the  churches  including  minimum  distance  between  churches  and   between  churches  and  mosques,  churches  cannot  be  built  if  Muslim  neighbors   objected.  This  is  totally  unfair  to  give  to  others  the  right  to  ban  practicing   religion  for  others.    

Moreover,  in  the  mid  1970  “  apostasy  law”  (qanun  al-­‐ridda  )  that  apply   the  sharia-­‐  prescribed  death  penalty  to  apostates  .  In  may  1980  the  government   dropped  the  “apostasy”  because  of  the  Copts  uproar  ,  but  they  proclaimed  the   sharia  as  “  the  main  source  of  legislation”  in  Egypt  as  a  result  of  Muslim  pressure   .lastly  ,  According  to  Mirit  butrus  –  Ghali  ,  a  leading  Coptic  thinker  ,  it  is   unbearable  scandal  and  an  assault  on  public  order  for  a  single  Muslim  to  adopt   Christianity  .  When  a  Muslim  becomes  Christian  he  is  violently    prosecuted  and   abused  .  On  the  other  hand  ,  “  while  it  is  permissible  ,acceptable  and  desirable  for   hinders  of  Copts  to  convert  to  Islam  .  The  state  makes  things  easy  for  such   converts  to  Islam  providing  them  with  benefits  and  gifts  and  joyful  celebrations   and  parades  are  organized  for  them  in  the  streets  .”  Mirit  butrus  Ghali  noted.  To   conclude,  without  Copts  as  a  minority  enjoys  citizenship  rights  ,  without  political   and  social  ones,  all  claims  about  democratization  will  be  in  vain.   Islamic  Fundamentalism   The  second  word  in  the  title  is  “Fundamentalism.”  Fundamentalism  and   religious  fanaticism  is  a  serious  problem  in  the  Egyptian  society.  According  to   Mohammed  Sid  Ahmed,  a  writer  in  Ahram  Weekly,  the  Moslem  Brotherhood   have  been  working  quietly  behind  scenes  and  avoiding  confrontations  with   authorities.  “Their  actions  over  the  recent  period  point  to  a  shift  in  tactics,  as   they  move  out  of  shadows  to  assert  their  presence  more  forcefully,”  he   continued.     The  Islamic  group  has  always  longed  to  control  the  presidency  and   authority.  Essam  El  Erian,  a  jailed  leader  of  the  Muslim  Brotherhood,  is  planning   to  elect  himself  in  the  coming  elections.  Worse,  the  Egyptian  government  has  

released  135  members  of  the  banned  group  including  EL  Erian  and  three  others   who  were  arrested  at  his  flat.  Muslim  Brotherhood  has  17  members  sitting  in   parliament  as  independents.  The  regulations  associated  with  amendment  76   have  raised  the  MB’s  uproar.  Mohammed  Mahdi  Akef,  leader  of  Egypt’s  MB,  for   example,  rejected  the  amendment  to  the  constitution  and  said:  “We  ask  the   People’s  Assembly  to  reject  the  constitutional  amendment…and  to  take  out  every   prohibitive  condition  to  fielding  one’s  candidacy  to  the  presidency.”       The  dilemma  of  the  fundamentalist  movement  is  that  on  one  hand  they   don’t  have  their  inalienable  citizenship  rights  and  on  the  other  hand,  even  if  they   were  given  these  rights,  they  still  wouldn’t  implement  democracy  because  of   their  anti-­‐democratic  belief.     To  justify  my  arguments  here  is  an  explanation  of  Islamic   Fundamentalism  and  different  approached  to  it.     There  is  confusion  in  Egypt  between  interchangeable  terms  such  as   Islamic  fundamentalism,  militancy,  fanaticism,  extremism  and  violence.  The   Egyptian  society  suffers  form  all  of  the  above  as  there  are  different  Islamic   groups  with  variable  degree  of  radicalism.  The  Muslim  Brotherhood,  the  Islamic   Group,  and  the  Jihad  are  the  three  primary  organizations.  The  Islamic   Fundamentalism  means  “the  belief  in  the  precepts  of  the  commandments  of   Islam  as  stated  in  its  holy  book,  the  Quran  and  as  enunciated  and  practiced  by   Prophet  Mohamed-­‐known  as  Sonna,”  said  Saad  Eddin  Ibrahim  (Ibrahim,  Saad   Eddin).    

Fundamentalists  believe  that  Islam  doesn’t  only  provide  guidelines  for   individual  living,  but  regulations  for  all  aspects  of  life  including  business,  politics   and  law.  This  movement  represents  a  religious  revival  in  the  modern  world  that   is  influenced  by  Western  values.  The  radical  part  or  groups  of  this  movement  use   violence  to  establish  the  “correct  Islamic  government.”  Their  ideology  is   “rebuilding  of  a  new  social  order  based  on  Islam.”  Since  “Islam  regards  itself  as   the  repository  of  the  word  of  God,  which  has  to  be  acted  out  on  earth  through  a   political  order.”     To  illustrate  more,  as  Islamic  fundamentalist  tries  to  seek  the  will  of  God   through  building  a  government  based  on  Sharia  and  applies  it  in  all  aspects  of   life.  Islamic  fundamentalists  should  line  a  fight  to  establish  this  government.     Islamic  fundamentalism  has  different  approaches.  The  Military  Academy   Group  (MA):     Although  they  condemn  the  political  system  and  society  at  large,  yet  they   see  society  as  a  victim  of  “God-­‐fearless”  leaders.     “We  believe  that  the  Egyptians  are  basically  the  most  religious  of  all   Islamic  peoples.  They  were  so  before  Islam,  for  time  of  the  Pharaohs,  they  have   continued  to  be  very  religious.  Egypt  would  be  a  good  start  for  the  world  of   Muslim  Revival.  All  what  the  religious  Egyptian  need  is  a  sincere  Muslim   leadership,”  said  one  of  the  surviving  leaders  of  the  attack  on  technical  Military   Academy.              

The  Repentance  and  Holy  Flight  (RHF)  Group:   According  to  them,  “a  corrupt  society  needs  a  corrupt  political  system,   and  vice  versa.”  “Jahilia”  is  the  term  they  use  to  describe  redemption  of  the   political  system.  This  term  means  infidelity,  decadence  and  ignorance.     Muslim  Brotherhood:   “Allah  is  our  objective,  the  Prophet  is  our  leader,  Quran  is  our  law,  and   Jihad  is  our  way.  Dying  in  the  way  of  Allah  is  sour  highest  Hope.”  MB  (Muslim   Brotherhood).  They  were  founded  in  1928  by  Hasan-­‐al-­‐Bana.  El  Bana  based  his   ideology  on  the  Wahhabism  and  his  supplemented  the  traditional  Islamic   education  with  the  Jihadia  training.  The  MB  gained  much  popularity  in  the   following  20  years  after  their  foundation.  Then  they  were  banned  and  re-­‐ legalized  in  1948.  Ten  they  were  banned  again  in  1954  for  their  insistence  to   implement  the  Sharia  in  governmental  affairs. ��   The  Islamic  Liberation  Organization  (Monazamet  EL  Tahrir  AL   Islamy)  and    The  Jihad  Group:   These  are  anti-­‐regime  activists.  Some  of  them  are  factions  that  drifted  away  from   the  MB  since  the  early  1970’s.  The  believe  hat  the  ruling  political  elite  is  the   reason  of  the  decadence  and  corruption  of  society.  So,  they  use  violence  to   remove  the  rulers  and  force  them  to  submit  to  the  Islamic  law.  They  believe  the   duty  of  the  believer  is  to  fight  the  ungodly  rulers.  Mohammed  Abdel  Salam  Farag   wrote  a  booklet  called  “The  Absent  Commandment”  which  is  the  Jihad.  He  stated   the  following:    

“This  state  is  ruled  by  heathen  laws  despite  the  fact  that  the  majority  of  its  people  are                   Muslims.  Infidels  who  compelled  Muslims  to  abide  by  them  formulated  these  laws.  And   because  they  deserted  Jihad,  Muslims  of  today  live  in  subjugation,  humiliation,  division,   and  fragmentation.  The  Quran  has  aptly  scolded  them  in  verse,  Thou  believers,  why  if   told  to  rise  up  for  the  sake  of  God,  you  hedge  closer  to  the  ground?  Are  you  more  content   with  the  earthly  life  than  with  the  hereafter?  The  pleasure  of  the  earthly  life  is  little   compared  with  to  those  of  the  hereafter.  If  you  do  not  rise  up,  God  will  torture  you  most   painfully.  Thus  the  aim  of  our  group  is  to  rise  to  establish  an  Islamic  state  and  restore   Islam  to  the  nation.  The  means  to  this  end  is  to  fight  against  heretical  rulers  and  to   eradicate  the  despots  who  are  no  more  than  human  beings  who  have  not  yet  found  those   who  are  able  to  suppress  them  with  the  order  of  God  Almighty.”      

According  to  Saad  Eddin  Ibrahim,  who  believes  that  Islamic  activism  with  its  various   tendencies  is  dominating  much  of  the  political  space  and  discourse  of  Egypt.  Moreover,   the  Egyptian  society  has  drifted  towards  a  more  fanatic  way  of  approaching  religion,  in   the  current  years  and  especially  after  September  11.  With  the  American  pressure  to   reform  and  impose  democracy  on  the  Middle  East  and  with  the  modification  of  the   constitution,  increasing  the  margin  of  democracy  to  all  sects  and  giving  them  their   political  and  citizenship  rights  is  a  must.  Yet,  if  the  MB  or  any  of  the  above-­‐mentioned   Islamic  groups  reached  presidency,  democracy  will  stay  as  an  unreachable  dream   because  of  their  ideologies  explained  in  the  above  paragraphs.  So,  if  they  rule  the   countrywomen’s  and  Copts  rights  will  be  denied.  And  even  of  they  don’t  rule,  their   strong  presence  in  society  will  still  challenge  the  minorities’  rights  because  they  are  a   threat  to  the  government.  According  to  Saad  Eddin  Ibrahim  “  in  the  absence  if  a  credible,   secular  national  vision,  and  effective  means  to  repel  external  encroachment,  Islamic   movements  exert  a  strong  attraction.  To  enhance  the  present  and  future  socioeconomic   prospects  of  the  middle  and  lower  classes  and  to  galvanize  the  imagination  of  the   educated  youth  and  give  them  a  sense  of  being  essential  parts  of  a  grand  design  ,  Islamic   militancy  offers  the  alternative.”  



So,  it  becomes  clear  after  observing  and  analyzing  different  segments  of  the  society  that   democracy  cannot  just  come  form  above,  i.e.  from  the  government.    The  Egyptian  people   need  first  to  be  educated  about  and  convinced  of  the  principles  and  fundamentals  of   democracy.  When  asked  in  a  Television  interview  why  Egypt  was  not  a  democratic   country,  President  Hosni  Mubarak  said  that  Egyptians  were  not  prepared  enough  for   democracy.    Also,  Egypt  needs  to  be  transformed  to  a  secular  system,  because  as  noted   above,  religion  seems  to  be  one  of  the  biggest  challenges  and  obstacles  to  democracy.     Also,  Egypt  needs  to  be  transformed  to  be  a  secular  system,  because  as  noted  above,   religion  seems  to  be  one  of  the  biggest  challenges  and  obstacles  to  democracy.   Especially,    that  the  Egyptian  society  started  to  have  tendency  for  fanaticism  with  their   socioeconomic  conditions  and  the  global  changes  happening.  Building  a  well-­‐established   civil  society  can  be  a  good  start  for  democratizing  the  country.                      

Works  Cited   Ibrahim,Saad  Eddin.  Egypt  Islam  and  Democracy.  Cairo:The  American  University  in             Cairo  press,2002   Aylon,Ami  “  Egypt’s  Copts  Pandora  Baox”  Minorties  and  the  State  in  the  Arab  World         By  ofra  bengio  and  Gaberia  ben-­‐Dor.(Eds.)     Al-­‐  Sayyid  Marsot,  Afaf  Lutfi.  “  Women  in  the  Eyes  of  Men  :  Myth  and  Reality.”  Women   and  Men  in  Late  Eighteenth  Century  Egypt.  Austin  :  University  of  Tesxas   Press,1995,P.5-­‐16.     “Egyptian  parliament  Approves  Controversial  Election  Restructuring”.     Muslim  American  Society.  12  May.  2005   Http://     “Muslim  Brotherhood  leader  to  run  for  president”   Http://     Mohamed  Sid,  Ahmed  “  The  Muslim  brothers  and  the  elections”.12  May  2005   Http”//     “Muslim  brotherhood”  .  Intelligence  resource  program,7/5/2005   HTTP://      

Egypt, Fundmentalism and Democracy