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Special Issue: “Religious Dynamics in Post-Revolutionary Egypt”

September 11, 2019

Add a subheadingThe social science journal Social Compass released a special issue in French and English on “Religious dynamics in post-revolutionary Egypt” (or “Dynamiques religieuses dans l’Égypte post-révolutionnaire” for Francophones).

The issue includes an introduction by Gaétan Du Roy and Séverine Gabry-Thienpont, and articles in French by Clément Steuer and Costantino Paonessa, and in English by Sebastian Elsässer and Mina Ibrahim.

The abstracts are as follows:

Steuer, Clement. 2019. Qu’est-ce qu’un parti fondé sur une base religieuse ? Interprétations concurrentes d’une catégorie juridique dans le contexte politique égyptien. 66(3): 318-332.

In Egypt, the ‘political parties with a religious basis’ are explicitly prohibited by law since 1977. However, this ban has had a negligible impact on political life, because administrative jurisprudence has since long diminished its scope, by reducing the question of the religious basis of a party to that of the confession of its members. Nevertheless, the secular opponents of the Islamists have repeatedly claimed, since the constitutionalization of this ban in January 2014, that it should be interpreted more strictly. This article first recalls how the Islamist and secular camps emerged during the political and constitutional struggles of the 2011–2013 era, before examining the competing interpretations of the notion of ‘religious party’, such as made by the administrative jurisprudence, by supporters of the ban on Islamist parties, and by the Islamists themselves.

Elsässer, Sebastian. 2019. The Coptic divorce struggle in contemporary Egypt. Social Compass 66(3): 333-351.

Since his accession in 2012, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II has initiated a number of reforms within the church, including a major overhaul of the church court system and the introduction of more liberal provisions concerning divorces. This article explores the historical development and current state of divorce and divorce law within the Coptic Orthodox Community in Egypt and the complex interactions between Coptic citizens, their church, and state courts. Scrutinising interviews and press statements by the new pope and senior clerics, it investigates their ideas of Coptic family law and their justification for changing the Church’s approach to the divorce issue. It also takes the perspective of divorced Copts and looks at the myriad paths people have been following in search of legal and administrative loopholes, and assesses the impact that the new regulations will have on their lives.

Paonessa, Constantion. 2019. L’après 2013 des confréries soufies égyptiennes : allégeance au pouvoir, dissensions internes et « renouveau du discours religieux ». Social Compass 66(3): 352-365.

This article discusses the role of some Sufi orders and some of their sheikhs who are members of the Higher Council of Egyptian Sufi Brotherhoods in the project to ‘renew religious discourse’ (tajdīd khitab al-dīnī) launched by President al-Sissi in 2015. In particular, it raises the question of the extent to which contemporary Sufi ulemas reclaim concepts belonging to the Islamic mystical tradition, such as that of tajdīd (renewal), in order to adapt it to the needs of the country’s political agenda. Finally, based on the case of the al-’Azamiya brotherhood, this article aims to question the role played by Sufi identity as a factor of political mobilization.

Ibrahim, Mina. 2019. A minority at the bar: Revisiting the Coptic Christian (in-)visibility. Social Compass 66(3): 366-382.

How do Coptic Christians make sense of a predominantly negated practice such as drinking and selling alcohol? What do they do when they are forced or voluntarily desire to join alcoholic spaces that are refused by ruling religious and social forces? In this article, I build on the unorthodoxy of beer and liquor as per the hegemonic Coptic Orthodox Church tradition of khidma in Egypt by pointing out to completely overlooked interactions that Coptic Christians have at alcoholic spaces. I argue that experiences of Coptic Christians at a bar complicate how and where Copts strive for a ‘visibility’ (i.e. recognition) in a country of a Muslim majority. Especially with the brutal crackdown on the post-2011 street activism following the 2013 coup, predominantly negated venues of entertainment and fun give us hints to important meanings of agency in the lives of members of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

Image by abdelazizmagdy40 via Pixabay.
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