Egypt: The Search for Stability
December 15, 2014
In Chapter 5 of Religious Radicalism after the Arab Uprisings, Jon Alterman and William McCants analyze the endurance and evolution of radicalism in Egypt both before and after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Today, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appears to have changed the Egyptian state’s definition of Islamic radicalism. His predecessors had made violence the touchstone for determining who was an extremist and which of them merited absolute repression. Sisi has changed the definition to hinge on political ambitions rather than ideological or violent commitments. For the moment, nonviolent salafi political activists are allowed a seat at the table as long as they do not threaten the power of the old guard. Meanwhile, Egypt’s violent jihadi-salafists are unlikely to abate their activities. Sorting out the religious and political roots of violence, and understanding which of those roots to address through persuasion and inclusion in lieu of brute coercion, will take time.