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Bikya Masr: Egypt's Secularists Not So Secular

Author: Pol O Gradaigh
November 27, 2011


Pol Gradaigh explains why Egyptian parties are cautious of the term "secular," opting instead to define themselves as a "civic" state against Islamist ideology.

CAIRO: What do Egypt's secular forces hope for in the forthcoming period? Not secularism, one might be forgiven for thinking, judging from their programs and the speeches of candidates and activists. There is no shortage of politicians and parties with an essentially secular outlook, but the word 'secularism' itself is rarely spoken.

Basem Kamel, a candidate in North Cairo for the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, part of the Egyptian Bloc electoral alliance, told why his party doesn't use the term:

"We don't like using the word 'secular' here in Egypt. People think it means atheistic, which is not true, but it's become a word of ill-repute. We use the word 'civic', 'civic state' is better than 'secular state'. 'Civic' means we're against a religious state, and against a military state. They're both harmful."

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