Egyptian liberals were ecstatic over their role in the fall of Hosni Mubarak, but that victory may have been the high-water mark of their movement. The AP reports that following liberals’ poor showing in Egypt’s first democratic elections in years, Islamists took 60 of the 100 seats on the council to draft a new constitution. Now two liberal politicians have quit the body in protest.
As liberals continue to cede ground to the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s increasingly clear that democracy and liberty in Egypt do not point in the same direction. Mounting evidence suggests that the new Egypt will be less liberal than the old one, especially regarding religious minorities and women’s rights.
The Egyptian public has every right to pursue this course if they want. These developments show that the twittering activists of Tahrir Square were incredibly out of touch with their own society—and that their Western cheerleaders were clueless as well. At the beginning of the Arab Spring, Western journalists, academics, and NGO officers predicted the spread of democracy and liberal values throughout the region. Such sunny scenarios seem increasingly farfetched.