A New Political Culture Emerges in Egypt

By Hammond, Andrew | The Middle East, April 1996 | Go to article overview

A New Political Culture Emerges in Egypt


Hammond, Andrew, The Middle East


In the aftermath of parliamentary elections held in November of last year, Egypt's younger generation of political activists and journalists are attempting to break with the moribund political system and its leaders.

After 14 years of president Mubarak's rule, there is a feeling amongst the majority of the political and cultural intelligentsia that the experiment in democracy begun shortly before Mubarak came to power in 1981 has not gone far enough. And, further, that political institutions and leaders which should be challenging the state are incapable of doing so.

Egypt's political parties are all led by men over 60 years of age and some over 80, who tend to regard the parties they lead as personality cults. The leftist Tagammu party's Khaled Mohieddin was one of the Free Officers who helped lead Egypt from its British-influenced monarchy to the Nasserist Republic; the Wafd's Fouad Serag Eddin, is a luminary from the pre-Revolutionary Wafd party which fought the British occupiers in 1919 and instituted constitutional democracy; the Labour Party's Ibrahim Shokri is a founding member of the Young Egypt Party whose chief claim to fame is that he helped step up the fight to rid the country of the British in the 1930s, and the Liberals' Mustapha Kamal Murad is a former Nasser and Sadat confidante. Most of the parties were established with the blessing of the state which saw for them a specific use and purpose when Sadat decided to make peace with Israel.

Until recently, the elder the better was the established mechanism for change in the Muslim Brotherhood, the major opposition force in the country. In January a new spiritual guide, 75 year old Mustapha Mashhour was chosen to succeed 84 year old Hamed Abu Nasr who died after only three weeks in the job but still, say analysts, dynamic leadership is lacking.

"Mashhour is in his seventies but is a bit more charismatic than his predecessor," says sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim of the Ibn Khaldou Research Center, "but in no way is he a match for the founder of the Brotherhood Hassan Al Banna or for Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of the Islamist Welfare Party in Turkey."

"The question of charismatic leadership in the Islamist movement in Egypt has become a real problem now," says commentator Dia Rashwan of the Al Ahram Political and Strategic Studies Center. Since the execution of former Brotherhood leader Sayed Qutb in 1965, Brotherhood leaders have striven to work a modus vivendi with the state, and despite the repression of the movement last year - 54 activists were given prison sentences of up to five years in controversial military trials - the trend favouring non-confrontation with the state remains dominant within the organisation.

This situation has pushed younger members who were saved the ravages of state persecution of the Brotherhood last year to break ranks with the organisation's ageing leadership, who have opted to lie low while the state rages against them - a significant gesture in a group known for its Masonic-style discipline. They hope to set up Egypt's newest political party, Al Wasat, or the Centre, and this presents the first open dissent by the young generation of syndicate activists in their 30s and 40s.

The idea behind Al Wasat is not only a sign of unease within the Brotherhood's ranks but also of restlessness among young activists across the political spectrum. The party includes prominent Christians, leftists and Nasserists who see Al Wasat as one way out of the political dilemma facing the country: the Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and most popular political movement, is for Muslims only - legalize it, say apologists for the regime, and the Christian Copts will demand a political party too, thereby opening the door to sectarian strife as potentially violent as that of Lebanon during the civil war.

"The reality is that there exists a very powerful Islamist movement in Egypt and we must take this force and establish peaceful and moderate channels for it to express itself," says Rafiq Habib, a Christian and one of the party's founders, "the opposition in general, as it is at present, is only meant to be decor. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A New Political Culture Emerges in Egypt
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.