With the second round of Egypt’s constitutional referendum under way, this weekend seems like the right wrong moment to work a bit further through a backlog of notes under the Cairo and Philadelphia or Contendings of Islamism and Liberalism theme, with a view to a possible later more organized and more fully considered presentation.
As a kind of headnote for what I anticipate will be series of posts that may be difficult for anyone, even from my blog-local loyal opposition, to absorb, I’ll use a few lines from a discussion on liberal secularists and religious fundamentalists in America. To whatever extent they apply to Egypt, they should also help to explain why the Egyptian questions are also our questions:
Rarely… do these diverse forms of belief view each other from the perspectives of benign indifference, of multicultural celebration, or even of modus vivendi accommodation. They see in each other threats to the foundation of their own beliefs; they see each other as evil. Because each stands as a challenge to the other’s beliefs about the meaning of life itself, each grounds a distinctive conception of evil. In each instance we see that evil is not the failure to meet the internal norms of a system of belief. Rather, it is the external assault on the claim to have located the point of the sacred in a fallen world.