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The liberatory sentiment that stoked the Arab Spring and saw the ousting of long-time Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak seems a distant memory. Democratically elected president Mohammad Morsi lasted only a year before he was forced from power to be replaced by precisely the kind of authoritarianism protestors had been railing against in January 2011. Paradoxically, this turn of events was encouraged by the same liberal activists and intelligentsia who’d pushed for progressive reform under Mubarak.
This volume analyses how such a key contingent of Egyptian liberals came to develop outright illiberal tendencies. Interdisciplinary in scope, it brings together experts in Middle East studies, political science, philosophy, Islamic studies and law to address the failure of Egyptian liberalism in a holistic manner – from liberalism’s relationship with the state, to its role in cultivating civil society, to the role of Islam and secularism in the cultivation of liberalism. A work of impeccable scholarly rigour, Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism reveals the contemporary ramifications of the state of liberalism in Egypt.
1. Egyptian liberals, from revolution to counterrevolution
Daanish Faruqi and Dalia F. Fahmy
Section I: Liberalism and The Egyptian State
2. Egypt’s structural illiberalism: How a weak party system undermines participatory politics
Dalia F. Fahmy
3. Nasser’s comrades and Sadat’s brothers: Institutional legacies and the downfall of the Second Egyptian Republic
4. (De)liberalizing judicial independence in Egypt
Sahar F. Aziz
Section II: Liberalism and Egyptian Civil Society
5. The authoritarian state’s power over civil society
Ann M. Lesch
6. Myth or reality?: The discursive construction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
7. Student political activism in democratizing Egypt
Section III: Islam, Secularism, and the State
8. Egypt’s secularized intelligentsia and the guardians of truth
Khaled Abou El Fadl
9. The truncated debate: Egyptian liberals, Islamists, and ideological statism
Ahmed Abdel Meguid and Daanish Faruqi
Section IV: Egyptian Liberals in Comparative Perspective Post-2013
10. Conflict and reconciliation: “Arab liberalism” in Syria and Egypt
11. Egypt’s new liberal crisis
12. Egyptian liberals and their anti-democratic deceptions: A contemporary sad narrative
Conclusion: Does liberalism have a future in Egypt?
Emad El-Din Shahin