American journalists shouldn’t cast the Egyptian president as the last bulwark against chaos and Islamic theocracy, says a Middle East scholar. Indeed, there are many reasons to be optimistic about how things will unfold once he leaves.

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

There is no reason for American journalists to accept the premise that President Hosni Mubarak is the only thing standing between chaos and/or Islamic theocracy in Egypt.
So says Bruce Rutherford, a political science professor at Colgate University. Everyone seems to be imagining what post-Mubarak Egypt will look like these days, but Rutherford was gaming it out years ago for his 2008 book, Egypt after Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World.
Mubarak’s insistence that there would be chaos if he resigned is in fact “a very inaccurate portrayal of contemporary Egypt,” Rutherford said.
Mubarak, in that way, would have us believe that he is another Saddam Hussein and Egypt is another Iraq. “The state really did collapse once Saddam left,” Rutherford said. “But Egypt is a very different place.”
Egypt has a constitution that, among other things, establishes an order of succession. There’s also a strong and independent judiciary. And there’s a powerful, established police force and military.
At the same time, observers don’t seem to fathom the populace’s profound lack of appetite for another authoritarian regime, Rutherford said.
Rutherford noted that pundits such as Thomas Friedman seem to think that the Mubarak regime is on one end of the political spectrum, the Muslim Brotherhood is on the other, and there is nothing in between
But Egypt is not another Iran — and the Muslim Brotherhood is not another Ayatollah Khomenei waiting to establish an Islamic theocracy. Read More

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