December 1st, 2012
01:36 AM ET

Islamists vs the secularists in Egypt?

Fareed Zakaria discusses Egypt’s political crisis with Harvard University’s Tarek Masoud and the Council on Foreign Relations' Steven Cook.

When you look at the struggle, is it essentially the Islamists versus the secularists? And is it fair to say, as everybody does, while the Islamists have greater appeal, they're better organized, they're going to win this?

Well, I think it is, right now - there are basically three groups here that are contending for the loyalties of the great undifferentiated mass of Egyptian people.  The one group are the Islamists. The other group are the revolutionaries, the kinds of photogenic people that we remember from Tahrir Square a couple of years ago. And then the third group are the Mubarak loyalists.  And during the revolution of 2011, it was really the Islamists and the young revolutionaries against the Mubarak loyalists.

Now, because the Islamists have been so heavy-handed in the way that they've governed the transitions, particularly since Mohamed Morsy's election, it's now really the revolutionaries finding themselves uneasy allies with these Mubarak loyalists.  And their big grievance is this constitution, which they find to be very retrograde.  It takes Egypt a significant step more toward an Islamic polity.

Watch the full panel on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

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Topics: Egypt • Middle East

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Difference in terminology

    Just read a similar article on Al-Jazeera English.

    Instead of calling it Islamists vs Secularists, they're call it Islamists vs. Liberals.

    December 1, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • Hahahahahahahaha

      Or the redneck version: Towel Heads vs Commies. Hahahahahahahaha

      December 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  2. DaVuVuZeLa

    I wonder how much it would cost to put up a billboard with Mubarak's picture and a caption underneath that reads, "Miss me yet?"

    December 1, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Among "Mubarak's loyalists" is also the country's militay, the much loathed generals of the SCAF, whose transient rule the "secularists" rejected. Egypt had seen military coups before and the army wouldn't hesitate to plan another one, if the conflict would derail the urgently needed IMF loan. The army has vested interests in Egypt's economy.

    December 1, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  4. ✠ RZ ✠

    Good Lord ! Here we go again! If anyone is so inclined, let God govern man, and let man govern nations. (and of course I mean God and man in a broader sense). The White House is no Garden of Eden, well, maybe perhaps just from time to time, but only for a few brief moments (eh Bill?, And just look how that turned out!).

    December 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  5. 200 TON HAMMER

    Yahoodee is a word islamist arabs use in northafrica and middle east

    December 2, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • Cocopuf

      So what is your point?

      December 4, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  6. responsiveuse

    Calm down, islamists! We miss you Mubarak!

    December 2, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  7. responsiveuse

    December 2, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  8. Woodyplace

    Whenever you have a religious dominated government, you have subjugation of the people particularly women. Be it christian or muslin, these male dominated religious groups want to have total control. They use the people's faith in God and lie to them. The Mulsim brotherhood is exactly like the regime in Iran. Theywill lie to the prople to get in power and then use that power to subjugate the people. They can't be trusted because they are liars. They dont' believe in God they believe in power. Power for themselves. God and government should be totaly separate becuase if it isn't. The relgious fanatics will lie and kill the people. The Muslim people will never have true freedom until they rid the government of the religous leaders. Their societies will never be a true world power. they are doomed for failure. Their God won't let them. He know that they will kill, destroy and lie in his name. Allah and God are ashamed of them. He has no respect for them. He knows that they are totally untrust worthy. Its ashame that the people don't realize this until its too late. the people of Egpyt and Iran blew it big time when they put the Allotolah and the Muslim Brotherhood into power.

    December 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  9. melashry

    Thank you for a very informative and dynamic discussions.

    December 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  10. Muin

    Judges are not without fault at this recent conflict in Egypt. They did try to dissolve the parliament. They did not act very rationally. So one might say that Morsi was forced to go as far as getting that decree.

    December 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  11. Abraham

    Morsi was probably defending himself, because the Mubarak-loyalist judges dissolved the parliament elected by 30 Million Egyptians in which the Islamist made about 70%. The Supreme Court also planned to declare Morsi's election as fraudulent.

    December 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  12. lee

    Capitalist society have to learn how to live with a non capitalist society . It is American main problem they do not know how to accept the different point of angle .

    December 3, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • PA Don

      Your point is pathetic

      December 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  13. USN Ret.

    @ Lee
    Why do modern capitalist societies need to learn to live Dark Age religious societies? Your statement "It is American main problem they do not know how to accept the different point of angle.”
    How many religions are accepted in Iran, Saudi Arabia or any other Islamic control society?
    How many countries have as part of their laws religious freedom and that separation of church and state is the law. So you and I can worship as we would like and not be persecuted for our beliefs.
    I have posted before ISLAM needs to grow up and accept others and women as equals. Not above or below but EQUIALS.
    You and I know that will never happen as long as the people allow the Mullahs who still live in the 12th century to run their lives.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  14. Dutch

    Whatever happened to live and let live? You have to have experienced freedom to truly understand what it means or how it feels. To be able to believe and think my own thoughts and not be ordered what my feelings and faith should be. It is probably not possible to understand what you have never experienced. It is a shame that those who want to be free to express themselves individually can't do so. Big brother is watching these poor people.

    December 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  15. CharlieSeattle

    Muslim Brotherhood has the guns.

    Secular Egyptians have ideas.

    Do the math!

    I did, 6 months ago, and it turned out exactly like I expected.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  16. Cocopuf

    Well, let's face it. With Morsy things are bound to get Worsy.

    December 4, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  17. Maha Yamine

    Pseudo Islamists please, change the terminology. If you cover the Tahrir square protests; you will find liberals praying in masses!!!!!!!

    December 4, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  18. USN Ret

    I know that I keep hammering at this but can anyone tell me why the religion of ??? Peace ??? is so intolerant of other religions and ideas?
    My take on this intolerants is that the leadership is so weak/unsure of its self that to allow out side ideas would undermine their power if not their religion.

    December 4, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Hi USN Ret

      Same reason that Repbulicans and Tea Partyers are intolerant of liberals and their ideas. And vice versa. You just don't agree with them.

      December 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  19. docmom

    Fareed Z. you are ignorant about the reality on the ground in Egypt! If you understand arabic and see all the Egyptian news channels, you might understand. Better yet, if you actually go, you would understand. Muslim brotherhood terrorist group, released from prisons for real crimes (eg. killing Sadat) are now in power. How would you like that "revolution" in the US?

    December 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
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