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Islam is not the problem in Egypt

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“Only when he changes his mind from being a Gamaa Brother to a nation leader would we have real progress in Egypt,” Mostafa said, adding, “for now, achieving the desired change, we must shape the iron when it is hot. We are no longer fearful of our government.”

After the presidential election in June of last year, which resulted in a near split of votes between the Islamists and civil liberals, President Mohamed Morsi received the support of many Egyptians, including many who did not vote for him, in the hope of putting the country on the right track to development. Egyptians wanted their elected president to succeed in addressing the real and numerous issues facing the nation, including the stagnant state of the economy and the reforms needed in sectors such as education and health care. If religion had been the dividing force, this support for the president would not have materialized.

However, after his decrees on the speedy ratification of the Constitution and on limits to judicial rulings, opposition escalated all over the country. Islamist supporters of the president demonstrated their influence by holding rallies with hundreds of thousands. 

The organization of the Egyptian population along these major lines – an Islamist constituency, civil liberals, and the silent majority – is not much different from what exists in established democracies. What is new and different for Egyptians is that the fear has disappeared and has been replaced with a sense of the power to shape their collective destiny.

What might be the path forward in the new year?

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