Is Tahrir Going Islamist? Is Egypt going Quasi-Theocratic?............

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Tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists poured into Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a state bound by strict religious law and delivering a persuasive show of force in a turbulent country showing deep divisions and growing signs of polarization……. After days of negotiations between the rival factions, the demonstration Friday had been billed as a show of national unity, but adherents to a spectrum of religious movements — from the most puritan and conservative, known as Salafists, to the comparatively more moderate Muslim Brotherhood — vastly outnumbered other voices in a sun-drenched Tahrir Square. The numbers of Salafists, in particular, represented the most definitive declaration yet that they represent a formidable force in Egyptian politics, riding an ascent since the revolution that has surprised and unnerved many secular and liberal activists — and poses new challenges to the Muslim Brotherhood………

Egypt will
not to Islamist, in the sense that neither the MB nor the Salafis will take power. But Egypt may go more Islamist than under Mubarak, in fact it most likely will go more Islamist. The Salafis are a particularly boisterous disruptive force when they want to be and when they are prodded by paymasters from outside: notice our Gulf experience. Egypt may not face the danger pf going theocratic, but it faces the danger of going quasi-theocratic. The generals, like their mentor Mubarak, will be happy with that. They can better use the old divide and rule principle.


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