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The Egyptian dream: Egyptian national identity and uprisingsThe story of Egyptian identity from the beginning of the 20th century is one constructed by statesmen, intellectuals and Islamic thinkers. This book argues that the current fragmentation of Egypt's political scene reflects the increasing social division in a country where 'the people' are demanding a redefinition of their national identity. Scrutinising the society behind the uprisings that began in 2011 and their diverse economic, ideological and sectorial demands, it also looks at the desperate state's attempt to construct a unified Egyptian identity an attempt which has resulted in further splitting Egyptian society. The book focuses on the societal context that caused and continue to stir the internal conflict in Egypt and offers a fresh perspective in that it zooms in on the Egyptian society and its multiple layers. It also zooms in on the role of language and education in enforcing the status quo using a number of case studies to illustrate the development of nationalist discourse in Egypt.
Islamism in EgyptFocusing on Islamism in Egypt, this chapter argues that although the state can exercise the power of coercion, it has had to negotiate some of its power with religious groups and institutions, including al-Azhar, Salafists, and the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. The chapter discusses the power dynamics among the various Islamic institutions and groups in Egypt, as well as the relationship between those actors and other religious minorities. The chapter concludes that the successive Egyptian governments have sought to tighten their grip on the religious sphere to curb the power of religious institutions while allowing them to substitute for the state’s welfare programs.
Who represents the revolutionaries? examples from the Egyptian revolution 2011Recently, there has been a debate among Egyptian intellectuals about who ideally represents the Tahrir (liberation) revolutionaries. This article reflects on this debate with a focus on selected examples of middle-class liberal revolutionaries and their mediated accounts of the so-called Battle of Camel, which took place on 2 February 2011. The examples help illustrate how the mediation and construction of this event enforces the image of protestors as secular middle class, thereby relegating to the background the role played by religious groups such as the influential Muslim Brotherhood. The accounts also marginalized working-class voices, although this group significantly contributed to the success of the revolution. The selected examples indicate the dynamism of the protests as a multi-layered text and a cultural artefact, open to multiple interpretations with regard to the representation of the revolutionaries.