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Why Egypt 2011 is not Iran 1979

Let me share an excellent analysis of the social moorings of the Egyptian uprising. Who else could have written it but Juan Cole, the well-known Arabist and historian from University of Michigan? Cole argues that two of the ‘locomotives’ of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 are just not present in the Egyptian uprising – the ‘bazaar’ and the clergy. Nor are there any symbiotic ties between the bazaar and the clergy as in Shi’ite Iran. As for the common denominator, the white and blue collar workers and the secular forces, the circumstances are vastly different, too. As for observant Egyptian Muslims, they are not primarily organised around religion, either. 

More important, there are liberal and social democratic movements in Egypt which attract the secular-minded, personally pious Egyptians who form a silent majority. (Tudeh, Iranian communist party, on the other hand, was much weakened through years of brutal persecution by the Shah.) Cole points out that the Muslim Brotherhood’s main attraction so far has been its opposition to Hosni Mubarak and now its future depends heavily on its capacity to grow out of its old, sectarian underground self into something like Turkey’s AKP. 
Cole’s conclusion: “It cannot be assumed that the MB is the future face of Egypt, and there is no reason to think that it has the popularity or levers of power that would allow it to make a coup. The Brothers are more likely to gain further influence (as they already have since 2006) via parliamentary elections… They would likely be far more influential in a democratic Egypt than they have been under Mubarak, but I cannot see what would make them hegemonic.” Read Cole’s views… 

Posted in Religion.

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