Egyptians are taking to the streets tonight to call for the fall of Sisi. How incredibly brave after everything that’s happened. The Arab Spring is not over yet pic.twitter.com/ASwci1UrH0
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) September 20, 2019
It is reassuring to see that Trump is not totally opposed to all of Obama’s policies and that he is toeing the line of previous administrations in maintaining a strong supportive relationship with “strong leaders who keep the region safe for American business and military interests.” The butchering of a single journalist by Saudi Arabian authorities calls for a response no different in substance from the long-term reaction to the massacre of 600 peaceful protesters and murders of several journalists by Egypt’s godfather five years ago, or Israel’s ongoing killings of Palestinians — all unfortunate events that sometimes get a little out of hand despite the best motives and intent to maintain peace and stability. Trump may be acting unconventionally with traditional allies but at least there is consistency where it really counts.
In case you missed it, recently the web site “livescience” published an update on the mummy mask mutilation controversy.
For a little background on the matter, see Brice Jones’s blog post from last May.
I can’t deny that finding new and perhaps much older papyrus fragments of NT manuscripts sounds fascinating, but it’s a bit gut-wrenching to see apologists ripping apart archaeological items, destroying them forever. It doesn’t matter if they’re “low quality” masks or not. They’re priceless and irreplaceable. Furthermore, they’re part of the heritage of humanity; they shouldn’t be thought of as “owned” by private individuals who can do whatever they want with them.
Bart Ehrman has posted his thoughts about it on Facebook.
From his post:
This complete disregard for the sanctity of surviving antiquities is, for many, many of us not just puzzling but flat-out distressing. It appears that the people behind and the people doing this destruction of antiquities are all conservative evangelical Christians, who care nothing about the preservation of the past – they care only about getting their paws on a small fragment of a manuscript. Can there be any question that with them we are not dealing with historians but Christian apologists?
Nope. No question about it.
Exactly one week before the Egyptian military’s removal of the Morsi government I received a copy of Muslim Secular Democracy: Voices from Within, edited by Lily Zubaidah Rahim. One of my particular interests at the time was in Turkey and I posted some interesting observations in the book about the Muslim government there: Can Democracy Survive a Muslim Election Victory? (That chapter raises the question of how valid are the fears of Muslim victories in democratic elections. The way the Muslim party has ruled in Turkey provides an instructive contrast with what happened recently in Egypt.) Other posts discussing Rahim’s book are archived here.
This post has been sitting half or less done in my drafts for some weeks now, and since the Egyptian military removed Morsi this post feels very academic and pointless ancient history. Patrick Cockburn’s view that Egypt has begun to enter a new dark age with the forces that had backed Mubarak’s bloody dictatorship more entrenched than ever.
Anyone following Egypt’s events in any detail will not find anything new here. The author is Tara Povey. Her chapter is titled Voices of Dissent: Social Movements and Political Change in Egypt. There is an earlier version of this chapter (published before Tara Povey moved to the University of London, and so not with the same details I cover in this post) here. Tara’s chapter in Muslim Secular Democracy is a much revised and augmented version of that online post. But let me post one section from it that overlaps with the new print chapter:
Islamic movements are generally portrayed in the West as undemocratic and are equated with terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.
In reality they are far from being homogenous and uniformly conservative.
Islamic reformism, modernism and dynamic jurisprudence have a long history in the region, beginning in the 19th century when reformers sought to strengthen and reform Islam and oppose colonialism. Today, diverse Islamist frameworks exist which are not based on opposition to the ‘West’ as a whole but rather oppose the West’s support of undemocratic regimes, the prosecution of wars in the region and highlight the importance of a society founded on the principles of social justice and equality.
In many parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Islamic groups have participated in t he democratic process and are playing the role of a genuine political opposition.
Since the 1990s a number of Islamist movements such as the al-Nahda movement in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbullah and HAMAS have entered electoral politics and have actively campaigned for democratic reform. This has prompted one author to note that in some countries Islamist movements “have been more strident in pressing for democratic change than have non-religious political parties.” Women’s activism has played a vitally important role in these movements and diverse strands of Muslim and Islamic feminisms have been formulated through which women have fought for gender equality as well as democracy, social justice and freedom from foreign domination. (my bolded emphasis.)
After the fall of Mubarak Western and other pundits were expressing fears that the events would lead to the takeover of Egypt by the MB.
The forces involved in the uprisings, however, says Tara Povey, “have been broader than any one organization or political party.”
Povey explains that the events surrounding the removal of Mubarak have forced out into the open generational and ideological splits within the MB. Continue reading “The Muslim Brotherhood in post-Mubarak Egypt”
This morning there was a radio interview with Associate Professor Lily Zubaidah Rahim of the University of Sydney about her new book, Muslim Secular Democracy: Voices from within. You can listen to the interview or download it (it’s only a few minutes) from this RN page here. Where I depart from the interview itself I use grey font.
In sum, Lily Rahim argues the significance of the five most populous Muslim nations — India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh — thriving in either full or hybrid democratic state.
Most Muslim majority states today were originally conceived as secular or quasi secular democracies. But since the mid twentieth century many of these states have moved closer to the Islamic state paradigm — that is, with the onset of Islamization and political Islam that swept through the Muslim world in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
A return to the Caliphate?
The interviewer asks if it is not a fact that the Caliphate, the union of religion and the state, that is at the heart of Islam.
Rahim argues (along with other scholars, including Muslim scholars) that the “Islamic State” is really a modern-day twentieth century construct and that the seventh century Caliphate was a phenomenon unique to that period. The Caliphate thus cannot be repeated. The Islamic states that have arisen in more recent times are not replications of the Caliphate. Rather, they are modern attempts to legitimize ruling elites.
Failure of theocratic and secular autocracies Continue reading “Is Islam Compatible With Democracy?”
Still on a euphoric roll over the incredible news from the people of Egypt.
Remember that time when a U.S. president promised to make Iraq “a beacon of democracy across the Middle East”? Some of us protested then that the humane way to do this was to support resistance movements within Iraq.
Now it’s the Egyptian people who are the ones set on course for becoming that beacon instead.
A thousand ironies lie in there somewhere. Stereotypes and myths have been shattered.
Even the Muslim Brotherhood is failing to conform to western expectations now one of their “pillars of stability” has crumbled:
The people of Egypt. The obscene criminal destruction of Iraq. What a contrast.
Will be breathing secular prayers that the people of Egypt will not suffer betrayal in the coming months.
It’s nice to see that the US State Department perceives the United States’ national interests coincide with a public call for the Egyptian presidency (specifically the vice-president) to hold accountable those responsible for the violence pro-Mubarak persons inflicted upon the demonstrators.
It is a pity that it was not apparently deemed to be in U.S. national interests to make similar calls during the past thirty years of Mubarak’s tortures, exiles and executions of dissidents, or his participation in torturing of others in secret rendition progams.