Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Democratic Uprising in Egypt

Far and away the best coverage of the uprising in Egypt on behalf of democracy and socio-economic justice is provided by the live-streaming of Al Jazeera. It puts the media coverage in this country to utter shame. Our commentators and pundits are woefully ignorant of Egyptian history and politics, of the Arab world in particular and the larger Islamic world generally, of secular and religious politics in those worlds, of the nature of nonviolent protests and revolutionary uprisings, of the different kinds of “Islamist” politics (which are not equivalent or reducible to what comes under the heading of ‘jihadist’ politics), of the global economic and financial crisis, and so forth and so on. I’m nauseated by the inordinate amount of media attention devoted to American tourists trying to flee Cairo and other tourist destinations in Egypt, of the irrational fears expressed by government spokespersons and putative experts over the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

On the irrational fear of the Muslim Brotherhood, see Bruce Riedel’s piece for Brookings.

For excellent daily coverage of events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, see Juan Cole’s Informed Comment.

For a rational yet impassioned perspective based on a deep understanding of recent events in Egypt, see Scott MacLeod’s piece for the Los Angeles Times: “A proud moment in Egypt’s history.”

A 2009 paper prepared for the International Labor Organisation by the economist Samir Radwan addresses the precipitating or directly relevant economic causal variables with regard to the Egyptian uprising (which is not to claim that the uprising is only about that): “Economic and Social Impact of the Financial and Economic Crisis on Egypt.”

For a “political economy” analysis of the states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), far and away the best treatment is provided by Clement M. Henry and Robert Springborg’s Globalization and the Politics of Development in the Middle East (2001; 2nd ed., 2010). Their first edition was spot-on and uncannily prophetic with regard to Tunisia and Egypt as “bully praetorian states” (one of the three ‘ideal-types’ of regimes in MENA). Indispensable reading.

On “Islamist politics” in Egypt, the foremost study remains Carrie Rosefsky Wickham’s Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt (2002).

For background material on Tunisia and Egypt, see past issues of Middle East Report (MERIP) and the articles found under Middle East Report Online at MERIP’s website (for Tunisia, use the search engine).

On non-violent social and political protest, see Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash, eds., Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-Violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (2009).

On conflict resolution and non-violent politics in Islam, see Abdul Aziz Said, Nathan C. Funk and Ayse S. Kadayifci, eds., Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam: Precept and Practice (2001). On nonviolent political action elsewhere in the Middle East, see Mary Elizabeth King’s The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (2007).

For my recent bibliography for the “contemporary Arab world,” see this post here at Ratio Juris.

New material (2/02/2011):

See this prophetic piece by Joseph Mayton in The Guardian. And his recent blog post at Bikya Masr: “Egyptians doing it old school.”

Shadi Hamid’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, “America’s ‘Islamist Dilemma,’” nicely complements Riedel’s article above.

At PrawfsBlawg, “A Guide to Egyptian Law Enforcement,” by guest-blogger Jill Goldenziel.

2/04/2011: A variety of excellent posts on various topics related to the uprising are found at the Jadaliyya blog.

[cross-posted at ReligiousLeftLaw.com]


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