16 May 2012

Egyptians still want democracy ... and sharia

Since the Arab Spring of a year ago, support for democracy in Egypt has remained strong according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Most Egyptians remain optimistic about the future and two-thirds prefer democracy over any other form of government.

As support for democracy remains strong, so does support for Islam. The most popular political organization is the Muslim Brotherhood with 70 per cent of Egyptians expressing a favourable view. (The April 6th Movement, composed largely of the young, secular activists involved in the demonstrations, is considered favourably by 68 per cent.) Along with strong support for the Brotherhood, most Egyptians believe the Koran should shape the country's laws.

Perhaps surprisingly, the military is also still well-regarded. Three-quarters of Egyptians believe it is a good influence and almost two-thirds think positively of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces.

The continued support for democracy is encouraging. However, it does not include separation of mosque and state, and that is not so encouraging. Nor is support for the military in a country that has been ill-used by military men in the past. The progress of Egypt, the most important state in the Arab world, remains an engaging drama.

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