by Manar Shorbagy, Arab Center for Development and Future Studies & Political Science Department, The American University in Cairo
The relationship between religion and politics is at the top of the political agenda in Egypt, and, as I shall argue, it has important implications for the political rights of Egyptian women and minorities. However, the issue is not a simple secular/religious divide. It is, rather, the problem of how to deﬁne the nature and characteristics of a civil, democratic state that is neither a theocracy nor an Islamically “naked” public space. The Islamist/secularist dichotomy is a false one; it has little or no relevance to actual political processes and possibilities in Egypt, where a middle ground is both theoretically and practically conceivable. Such a middle ground, however, must be deliberately sought and found by Egyptians, so that a national consensus on the relationship between religion and politics can emerge.