Michael Wahid Hanna’s latest article on Morsi’s power grab is an excellent read. The Foreign Policy piece shed’s light on Morsi’s and, more broadly, the Muslim Brotherhood’s and the Islamist Movement’s in general interpretation of democracy. However, the article romanticizes democracy as a system of governance in which political players charitably share the powers they possess for the sake of compromise –just to play nice in order to produce a sort of a lovely, warm democracy in which all loves all. I am not sure that this is how democracy works or how it came to be as we know it today.
A few days after the first Egyptian parliamentary elections since the January 25 popular uprising, all indications are that the Islamists are heading for a landslide victory. As an Egyptian liberal, I congratulate them on their victory, for this is how democracy works –one respects the results no matter what the outcome is.
Even though there are some limited policies on which Egyptian liberals and Islamists agree, though they differ on methodology and justification, there is a lot that we generally disagree on. Therefore, policy-making and dialogue between liberals and Islamists will be cooperative at times, but it will mostly be competitive at all other times. Differences of opinion, as long as there is a freedom to express them, engenders creative solutions for the very difficult problems that our nation faces today.
But regardless of our differences and agreements, there are liberal values that neither I nor Egypt’s true liberals will ever compromise. In this brief post, I highlight what these fixed values are.
I would first like to thank Mr. Khayrat’s rebuttal “On Liberalism and Islam: Responding to the Arguments of Secular Liberalists” to my article concerning the role of religion in society that was published on ikhwanweb.com.
Reading through Mr. Khayrat’s, I have to say that my overall reaction is one of confusion. Mr. Khayrat confuses liberalism with many other things that are not inspired by liberalism nor condoned by it. There also seems to be a confusion as to the definition of liberalism and of liberals. I will begin by defining liberalism and what makes for a liberal first. As far as I am concerned, if you agree with that principle then you are a liberal/liberalist (or whatever label you care to give to yourself), and that that label does not contradict the possibility that you are an Islamist.