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What Will Emerge in Egypt? [UPDATE] E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Saturday, 29 January 2011

While the current uprising in Egypt is not centered on the issue of religious freedom, that surely is one of the concerns in the U.S. response, as Secretary Clinton pledged "support (for) the universal human rights of the Egyptian people" in a statement yesterday. The struggle of Coptic Christians to worship freely in Egypt is just one of many problems religious minorities face there.  Indeed, last year's U.S. State Department report on Egypt lamented that "respect for religious freedom by the government remained poor."

Still, could it be worse? Might a post-Mubarak regime be even more restrictive when it comes to religious exercise? Writing at Religion Dispatches, Haroon Moghul says that is not likely, explaining the "Reasons why Egypt’s Revolution Is Not Islamic:"

Egypt’s revolution doesn’t have to be Islamic because Islam isn’t at the heart of the problem on the ground. In fact, the non-political Egyptian Islam of the last few decades has succeeded in deeply Islamizing Egyptian culture . . . .

Egypt’s society is a deeply Muslim one, and the very success of this non-political religious project has negated the need for a confrontational Islam. Egyptians know their religious identity is not under threat....Whether Egyptians identify with political Islam or secular democracy, their Arabness and Islam tend to be mutually supportive, and certainly not incompatible.

[UPDATE: Howard Friedman has more on this issue.]

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