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Egypt Risks the Fire of Radicalism

Author: Ed Husain, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
July 3, 2013
New York Times


Full disclosure: I am not a fan of the Muslim Brotherhood. I oppose their politicization of my religion. I take comfort in the fact that millions of Egyptian Muslims are protesting against the ideology and policies of a government led by a Muslim Brotherhood president. Islamism is being roundly rejected by ordinary Arab Muslims. That's the good news. But there is bad news, too.

My Egyptian friends may not wish to admit this, but their country is home to a modern experiment. It was Egypt in 1928 that gave birth to the Muslim Brotherhood. It was successive Egyptian military rulers who arrested, tortured, killed and exiled thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was in the prisons of Egypt that contemporary jihadism was born as Sayyid Qutb was hanged in 1966 for criticizing Egyptian society and its government.

Out of that violent history, the Brotherhood reformed and came to accept the ballot box, abandoned the use of bullets to assassinate politicians. They may not be Jeffersonian democrats, but they now believe in consensual government. For all their faults, they contested and won the presidency in June 2012. Mohamed Morsi has been an experiment to see if Islamism can exist within a secular framework. This is bigger than Egypt: What happens here will affect the direction of Islamist groups everywhere.

Granted, Morsi has not been as successful as hoped.

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