Islamist Egypt

At a Christmas party last night,* I met an Egyptian woman. That is, she was born in Egypt but had emigrated to the US forty years ago as a youth. She returns to Cairo frequently to visit family. Over the years she has been struck by the cultural changes: the increasing Islamification of Egypt. More women are wearing traditional Islamic dress and observing strict religious behavior. Cairo is no longer a safe city for a woman alone. She attributed these changes to the 1979 Iranian revolution, spreading Islamism throughout the region.

The pictures of graduating class at Cairo University from 1959 through 2004 tell a similar tale:

As you can see, the female graduates in 1959 and 1978 had bare arms, wore short sleeved blouses, dresses, or pants, and were both bare-faced and bare-headed. By 1995, we see a smattering of headscarves—and by 2004 we see a plurality of female university graduates in serious hijab: Tight, and draping the shoulders.

While this fits in with my image of Iran or Saudi Arabia, it’s not what comes to mind for Egypt. Presumably, it applies to all of north Africa, from Egypt to Morocco.  It’s worse than I thought.


*Yes, I know it’s weeks from Christmas.

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Author: drlorentz

photon whisperer & quantum mechanic

12 thoughts on “Islamist Egypt”

  1. I would argue that this is inevitable in ANY Islamic society. My test case for this belief is Turkey.

    Despite some conciliatory words here and there about Islam’s value, Ataturk was largely hostile to Islam and to religion in general. He was captivated by the scientific secular idea: new societies built from the ground up with only science and “progress” as it’s new foundations, while sweeping away all the old things. Family structure. Cultures. And especially religious belief. Ataturk knew he couldn’t go official state atheist on the Turks, but he took it as close as he could. And in his zeal to put Turkey in the center of so-called modernism, he went to extents not out of place in a Bolshevist government: in addition to religious sentiment in public and in schools, he cleansed the culture so hard that even the wearing of the Fez was made illegal. Wannabe cosmopolitans in the cities loved this. The rural faithful hated it. And bided their time. For the Quran teaches the faithful to practice taqiya when enemies rule them. Be patient, the prophet counseled; Allah will work his will over time.

    And as Istanbul became the playground of well-off Europeans and Turkey gained wealth, the inevitable fate of progressive western societies befell Turkey: their reproduction rate dropped. But only among the western-wannabes. In the rural areas, the faithful followed Islamic practice and were fruitful. And so over a period of decades, the followers of Islam outnumbered the faithful of Ataturk.

    This happened in Iran, and it’s happening everywhere else in the Middle East. Everywhere Islam had to be suppressed, at times brutally, by “modernizers”… Ataturk, Saddam Hussein, the Shah, even Nasser. As living standards increased, birth rates fell among the modernizers, while the faithful kept the faith, and kept making babies. “The future belongs to those who show up”, as Mark Steyn has said.

    You can never keep a faithful people down forever. Ataturk failed. I remember reading NatGeo’s back in the 80’s, and even THEN writers noticed how Muslims chaffed against Turkish government restrictions on their faith. There is no such thing as moderate Islam. Either you have to destroy it utterly, or eventually it grows powerful. There’s no in-between, and for “Ye who believe”, no room for opposition.

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  2. Something else happened to push Egypt into Islamicist fundamentalism.   Saudi oil money.   A handful of the Saudi family cousins, minor princes with money, got into Wahhabi-ism.   They gave big bucks to Wahhabi preachers.   The money was used to give scholarships that were directed by the most extreme imams.   They picked young firebrands and sent them to Al-Azhur University in Cairo, and then on to graduate schools in Europe, and then into teaching positions in madrassas around the Arabic world.   Some of them were able to latch onto faculty positions at Al-Azhur.   It only took a couple of decades to tilt Al-Azhur towards the Wahhabi end of the scale, creating unrest in the process.   There is internal friction there now.   The Grand Imam of Al-Azhur is a moderate who was appointed by Mubarak.   He backed Al Sisi’s coup against Mohamed Morsi.  So he is trying to keep a lid on the Muslim Brotherhood within his faculty.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is playing a long game.   Rather than go into open conflict in Cairo, they export young firebrands.   Saudi-funded scholarships have been used to support young firebrands with freshly-minted imam credentials to all of North Africa, where they foment jihad.   The transformation of Egyptian Islamic culture into Wahhabi-ism has been echoed throughout North Africa.

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  3. Just adding that I’ve seen this over the decades I’ve been working in Egypt. Another effect was when young Egyptian men spent time in Saudi Arabia for the money and came home to marry … except only to marry veiled women.

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  4. MJBubba:
    Something else happened to push Egypt into Islamicist fundamentalism.   Saudi oil money.   A handful of the Saudi family cousins, minor princes with money, got into Wahhabi-ism.   They gave big bucks to Wahhabi preachers.

    This I have never understood because these actions have contributed to international chaos, distressed key clientele and threatened the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden was no fan of the Saudis despite the fact his family lived among the elite.

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  5. EThompson says:
    #5 2018-12-03 at 17:19 UTC [Quote] Edit
    MJBubba:
    Something else happened to push Egypt into Islamicist fundamentalism. Saudi oil money. A handful of the Saudi family cousins, minor princes with money, got into Wahhabi-ism. They gave big bucks to Wahhabi preachers.

    This I have never understood because these actions have contributed to international chaos, distressed key clientele and threatened the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden was no fan of the Saudis despite the fact his family lived among the elite.

    First, money is money.

    Second, I’m just back from a two week stint next to the tourist d3stinatio of Kom ombo (Ombo, Ombos to the omans, the place of crocodile worship), a tourist detination. Now, I’m used to working and living in Cairo (actually, Zamalek, where most embassies other than the USA and British embassies are located and hence cosmopolitan and multilingual) and environs (Sakkara), visiting muslim friends at their horse farm, and Luxor which lives from tourism and a year-round expat community. THIS IS A DIFFERENT EGYPT. On one – and nly one! occasion, ir returned from a day of cleaning skeletons and walking back to the one of the rented apartments that served as dig residence, I inadvertently headed out in jeans and a loose t-shirt to purchase some stationery supplies. Suddenly found the owner of the building at my side. He escorted me everywhere. And I never again forgot not to go out and about solo andor without long-sleeved top plus headcovering. There is NO grasp of why anyone should be offended by heaps of garbage along all streets, even at the tourist sites (ancient temple, crocodile museum). This is very different universe and I am of two minds about whether to return in February. Cairo I can deal with; this, not so much – if at all.

    Sisi is doing what he can to promote Egypt as a safe destination with much to offer its visitors and also a lnd of religious tolerance. I wish him all the best, but… N.N. Taleb’s the least tolerant wins raises its frightening head. Pray for him and tolerant muslims – yes there are a lot of them, also praying for tolerance and understanding, horrified at how things are looking.

    I’m still going back in January for a conference and, I hope, interest archaeological work in Cairo, and, God willing, the opening of our bioarchaeology laboratory in Khartoum in late February. Wish me luck, fellow Ratburghers!

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  6. Roxie:
    First, money is money.

    You’re preaching to the choir, as I continue to be confused by the actions of the Saudis and the Egyptians. Why bite the hand that feeds you?

    The Saudis seem to want cultural, religious and political control of their constituency but do not understand that you cannot alienate the countries that provide them with their lavish lifestyles.

    One word for this train of thought- ignorance of the free market. It’s so 16th century I cannot bear to grant them one ounce of respect.

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  7. Roxie:
    EThompson says:
    #5 2018-12-03 at 17:19 UTC [Quote] Edit
    MJBubba:
    Something else happened to push Egypt into Islamicist fundamentalism. Saudi oil money. A handful of the Saudi family cousins, minor princes with money, got into Wahhabi-ism. They gave big bucks to Wahhabi preachers.

    This I have never understood because these actions have contributed to international chaos, distressed key clientele and threatened the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden was no fan of the Saudis despite the fact his family lived among the elite.

    First, money is money.

    Second, I’m just back from a two week stint next to the tourist d3stinatio of Kom ombo (Ombo, Ombos to the omans, the place of crocodile worship), a tourist detination. Now, I’m used to working and living in Cairo (actually, Zamalek, where most embassies other than the USA and British embassies are located and hence cosmopolitan and multilingual) and environs (Sakkara), visiting muslim friends at their horse farm, and Luxor which lives from tourism and a year-round expat community. THIS IS A DIFFERENT EGYPT. On one – and nly one! occasion, ir returned from a day of cleaning skeletons and walking back to the one of the rented apartments that served as dig residence, I inadvertently headed out in jeans and a loose t-shirt to purchase some stationery supplies. Suddenly found the owner of the building at my side. He escorted me everywhere. And I never again forgot not to go out and about solo andor without long-sleeved top plus headcovering. There is NO grasp of why anyone should be offended by heaps of garbage along all streets, even at the tourist sites (ancient temple, crocodile museum). This is very different universe and I am of two minds about whether to return in February. Cairo I can deal with; this, not so much – if at all.

    Sisi is doing what he can to promote Egypt as a safe destination with much to offer its visitors and also a lnd of religious tolerance. I wish him all the best, but… N.N. Taleb’s the least tolerant wins raises its frightening head. Pray for him and tolerant muslims – yes there are a lot of them, also praying for tolerance and understanding, horrified at how things are looking.

    I’m still going back in January for a conference and, I hope, interest archaeological work in Cairo, and, God willing, the opening of our bioarchaeology laboratory in Khartoum in late February. Wish me luck, fellow Ratburghers!

    Keep safe.

    I wish the Women’s Movement would take on Islam. It is easy to a trendy demonstrator in ease in the West than to have solidarity with those suffering in the East.

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  8. Roxie:
    Sisi is doing what he can to promote Egypt as a safe destination with much to offer its visitors and also a lnd of religious tolerance. I wish him all the best, but… N.N. Taleb’s the least tolerant wins raises its frightening head. Pray for him and tolerant muslims – yes there are a lot of them, also praying for tolerance and understanding, horrified at how things are looking.

    I also hope el-Sisi succeeds but it’s an uphill battle. The Left was enamored with the Arab Spring, which proved to be nothing short of a Muslim Brotherhood coup. The Left’s love affair with Islamic fundamentalism never ceases to amaze me.

    Be careful out there.

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  9. EThompson says:
    #7 2018-12-03 at 22:44 UTC [Quote]

    Roxie:
    First, money is money.

    You’re preaching to the choir, as I continue to be confused by the actions of the Saudis and the Egyptians. Why bite the hand that feeds you?

    The Saudis seem to want cultural, religious and political control of their constituency but do not understand that you cannot alienate the countries that provide them with their lavish lifestyles.

    One word for this train of thought- ignorance of the free market. It’s so 16th century I cannot bear to grant them one ounce of respect.

    Actually it is seventh-century.   The Saudi ruling family decided to allow the Wahhabi imams spew their toxic religion so long as they refrained from fomenting rebellion.   The Wahhabi imams are happy to turn a blind eye to the peccadillos of the minor princes so long as those princes give them money.   This is how Saudi oil money lubricates the spread of Wahhabi Islam.

    Wahhabi-ism is a form of Sunni Islam that emphasizes violent jihad in the global struggle to achieve Islamic dominance over the entire planet.   Muslim Brotherhood is a Wahhabi-inspired organization.   So are Hamas and Al-Qaeda, and a dozen affiliates of Al Qaeda.

    It is not surprising if irreligious people fail to understand how religious people think.   As a religious person, if I thought that the Qur’an really was the direct word of God, I would take it very seriously.   If I believed that the Hadith were the key to Quranic interpretation, then I would probably be a Wahhabi Muslim.

    Since I believe that Islam is a counterfeit of Christianity, you should not be surprised if I say I see Satanic power at work in the cycles of energy that occasionally energize the Muslim world.

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