2. Literature review
3. Research methodology and data
3.1. The Human Development Index (HDI)
3.2. UN Data Statistics
4. Egypt - inter-temporal changes
4.1. Country overview
4.2. Data-based analysis
4.3. The power of Islam
Egypt has been an important ally to the West,1 not just after the Israeli- Egyptian peace treaty of 1979 or due to its status as British colony.2 Its shier size - in population and geographically, its location and its economic strengths makes it obvious that one has to establish good economic and political relations with Egypt in order to gain or preserve influence in Northern Africa, the Middle East, or the Arab World. Still, every ally is looking for stability in its counterpartʻs policies, and the West seemed to have appreciated the Egyptian stability for the last 30 years by paying the regime a couple billions of Dollars in support while not asking how the money was used and the half-hearted request for small democratic reforms was considered the official western policy, as long as the country remained stabile - as a political ally and a market for western goods. Even when Mubarak imprisoned his opposition and let loose his police force on demonstrators that marched for human rights the West remained silent. It seemed that the Egyptian regime was built in concrete with no change in sight. A common picture of the population in Arab countries in the West was defined by the imagination of old, uneducated, bearded men with AK-47 yelling „Allah is great“ and mistreating their women. The fear was that all Muslims could be potential terrorists and all of them hate the West. On top of that, the authoritarian structures of their countries did not seem to bother them very much. Combined with terrorist attacks, the Israeli- Palestine-Conflict, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rise of Iran, this posed a very bad tasting cocktail for the peoples of the West. The mutual perception between the Arab world and the West could have been described as hostile or at least distrustful.
All of a sudden, a peaceful movement managed to overthrow President Mubarak and the whole regime that had lasted for more than 30 years in a matter of two weeks. Instead of a violent uprising, the world watched young Egyptians streaming to Cairoʻs Tahir Square, protesting peacefully, despite the violent response of the regime. Somehow, the protestors were not intimidated by their government and remained resilient, when Mr. Mubarak announced to stay in office to guarantee a secure and fast transition to democracy. The demonstrators were furious, stayed their ground, and 24 hours later President Mubarak resigned.
How could a peaceful movement of young Egyptians, coordinated by Internet and mobile phones, overthrow a powerful, established and backed regime in a such short amount of time? Obviously, the Egyptians were not happy for a long time and like mentioned above, there were occasional protests, and the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia ignited the uprising in Egypt, but what made the population so resilient? What role plays political Islam in the Egyptian revolution? In this paper, I argue that the crucial factor of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 correlates with the rate of education, age and confidence with special respect on Islam. Therefore, data from the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) will be used and compared inter-temporarily in order to draw a conclusion on how these indicators correlate with the Egyptian revolution.The hypothesis therefore is:
Non-democratic states with a high percentage of young educated people and low prosperity prospects are more likely to be affected by revolutions.
In a next step, an overview over the current research on transformation and political Islam will be provided, followed by the description of the methodology to then retrieve and compare the data of the mentioned indicators to finally draw conclusions on the reasons of the Egyptian revolution and then provide an outlook on possible influence of political Islam on Egypt.
2. Literature review
Especially after the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda heightened the interest in the so called ,phenomenonʻ of political Islam or Islamism. Authors from all of the scientific spectra published books and case-studies about the topic, making it seem like political Islam is a topic of recent history, often linked to terrorism or violations of human rights.This perception can be quite misleading.
Apart from the research on the connection between terrorism and Islamism there have been very valuable contributions by many authors in recent history. Principally the relationship between religion and politics and socio-economic factors have been shed light on. Authors like Charles Hirschkind3 and Salwa Ismail4 contributed a lot to a more distinguished picture of the Arab and Muslim world by acknowledging the complexity of the interaction between religion and Islam and the Muslim adjustment to the modern world. Discussing the process of democratization and authoritarian structures in the Arab world,5 the influence of Western colonialism, American imperialism and participation / civil society are being enquired and elaborated to the scientific and non-scientific society,6 revealing the argument between anti-imperialists, left-wing liberalists and Islamists.7
1 In this paper I use the term „The West“ to describe the western EU-States and the United States of America, due to their economic and cultural influence in the last 50 years.
2 Although Egypt was close to the USSR after itʻs independence in 1953 until 1972 when President Gamal Abdel Nasser switched allegiance from the Soviet Union to the USA, the western influence due to British colonization was always present, http:// www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1997/Jordan.htm, retrieved 2011-02-27.
3 Hirschkind, C., What is Political Islam?, 2011, p. 13-15.
4 Ismail, S., Identity, 2011, p. 16-26.
5 Pratt, N., Democracy, 2007.
6 There are two different paradigmatic approaches to political reformation in the Middle East: one stands for the unitiy of the ummah and sees society in domination over the state, the other emphasizes the role of the government as ruler, law maker and guardian over social tolerance, Norton, A., Civil Society, 2005.
7 Brown, N. / Shahin, E., Struggle, 2010.
- Arbeit zitieren
- Christoph Blepp (Autor), 2011, The awakening of Egypt, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/173269