October 23, 2011 |
At a conference two years ago, I sat in on a meeting between U.S. officials and young Islamist politicians from Tunisia, Jordan and other countries in the Middle East. The Islamists wanted to know: Would the Americans allow them to run in free elections, even if it meant they might come to power? The Americans turned the question back at them: Would the Islamists, if they won, allow free and democratic elections, even if it might mean losing power? At the time, it was mostly a theoretical discussion — but now those questions have become very real.
October 22, 2011 |
This nation that inspired revolution across the Arab world is facing another bellwether moment that may again foreshadow what happens throughout the Mideast in the intensifying battle between secularists and Islamists over the role of religion in shaping public life. Tunisians will vote Sunday for a constituent assembly that will set the course for a new government and write the nation's laws. Islamists, suppressed for decades by autocratic rule, are poised to win big, a prospect that has liberals and secularists worried about the future of civil liberties.
December 12, 2012
A vote by millions of Egyptians on a new constitution should have been an occasion for national celebration. But overreaching by Islamists, including the country's president, has made the referendum that begins Saturday a source of division. Even if the document is approved, President Mohamed Morsi will need to reach out to Egyptians - including Christians, secularists and women - who feel they have been excluded from a revolution they helped create. Yes, Morsi was legitimately elected, but that doesn't relieve him of the responsibility to preside over an inclusive government.
December 11, 2012 |
CAIRO - Egypt's volatile political fault lines were shaken Tuesday as rival protests echoed across the capital over the fate of a proposed constitution drafted by Islamists nearly two years after the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Tens of thousands of Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi rallied at a mosque in Cairo to back a constitutional referendum set for Saturday. Two miles away, mainly secular opposition groups marched to the barricaded presidential palace in what increasingly appears to be an improbable task of blocking the vote and forcing Morsi to order the writing of a new charter.
February 6, 2013 |
TUNIS, Tunisia - The assassination of a leading opposition figure in Tunisia on Wednesday triggered protests across the nation and raised fresh concern about the legacy of the "Arab Spring," the pro-democracy movement now threatened in several countries by turmoil between Islamists and secular liberals. Chokri Belaid, head of the Democratic Patriots party, was shot on his way to work in Tunis, the capital, the day after he predicted a wave of political assassinations. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but it came amid a democratic transition endangered by Islamist hard-liners with caches of smuggled weapons.
July 29, 2011 |
A huge rally Friday meant to symbolize Egyptian unity highlighted instead the deepening splits between secularist and Islamist parties over the direction of a nation convulsed in recent weeks by protests and fears that the revolution for democracy has sputtered. The demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square reaffirmed the power of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations that amassed tens of thousands of supporters. It was a stark display that signaled battles certain to unfold in coming months over the influence of Islamic law on Egypt's new constitution.
October 21, 2011 |
The spectacle of Moammar Kadafi's capture at the mouth of a drain pipe and death in the custody of those he long oppressed thrilled Libyans but left a sense of unease about the nation's ability to emerge from his violent legacy. Kadafi's death Thursday in his hometown, the coastal city of Surt, spared Libyans the prospect that the only leader most had ever known would continue exhorting die-hard followers to fight. Few believed that, two months after he had been chased from his capital, Kadafi was in a position to make a comeback.
April 21, 2013 |
CAIRO - Egypt's besieged justice minister has submitted his resignation after protests over the weekend by Islamists, who want to purge the courts of judges and lawyers perceived as political enemies of President Mohamed Morsi. Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki, who has wanted to quit his post for months, offered his latest resignation amid anger at the inability of Morsi's government to revive the nation's economy and ease political divisions. Morsi announced Saturday that he would soon reshuffle his Cabinet.
December 15, 2012 |
CAIRO - Egyptians began voting Saturday on a constitution that sharpens divisions between Islamists and secularists and intensifies the dangerous struggle over the country's political identity nearly two years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak's police state. Voters streamed through slums and wealthy enclaves in an uninspired atmosphere on a day meant to enshrine hallowed ideals into law. Soldiers and police stood guard and questions arose about whether judicial supervision was adequate.
January 1, 2013 |
CAIRO - Many of Egypt's twentysomething generation, hungry for a just society and economic opportunities, say they see themselves as lost after last month's clashes over the nation's constitution. Young Egyptians like artist Mahmoud Aly and student Mohamed Abdelhamid were shock troops of the revolution. They gathered in the streets in February 2011 and shouted for then-President Hosni Mubarak to go. They cheered in amazement when he did. But they look around now and wonder who, if anyone, is guarding their interests following the battle between ruling Islamists and the liberal opposition.