Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Upheaval in Egypt

by Isobel Coleman
July 4, 2013

Supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, July 4, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, July 4, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).


Yesterday, the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the constitution, following days of anti-government protests across the country. Morsi and his supporters have denounced the military’s actions, although protest leaders have celebrated the move as a step toward realizing the original goals of the 2011 revolution. In my article posted today on, I analyze the events unfolding in Egypt and the intricate relationship between religion and politics that will play an important role in future of the country and the surrounding region. As I explain:

Ultimately, the role of Islam in the state must be settled by the people themselves. If Egyptians approve, through a fair and open referendum, a new constitution that reduces Islam’s role, it will take the wind out of the sails not only of the Muslim Brotherhood, but of political Islam across the region. But if Egypt returns to a cycle of repression and violence, it will only serve to revitalize a radical movement.

Read the full article on

Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by Raja M. Ali Saleem

    The problem with the scenario explained above is that it is similar to what happened six months ago.

    A prejudiced party (MB), having full control of constitution-writing process, produced a document without taking it’s opponents (liberal forces) into confidence. Then, it was approved in a largely fair referendum. The losing party, of course, never accepted it and succeeded in creating turmoil and overthrowing the democratic government.

    With Egypt divided, can you see a constitution written by Army-liberal forces and approved by approximately half of the population in a free and fair referendum resolve the situation?

    It will not. No doubt Morsi made mistakes but do you think Army/liberal forces now in command will not make mistakes.

    Whatever your opinion of Morsi or MB, it has been proved that elections don’t matter much.

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