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Have Islamists derailed Egypt's fledgling democracy?
The country's courts shut down, intensifying their power struggle against President Mohamed Morsi and his Islamist allies
 
Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi rally in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Maadi, south of Cairo, on Dec. 2.
Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi rally in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Maadi, south of Cairo, on Dec. 2. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt's top court shut down indefinitely this weekend as it faced protests by Islamists allied with President Mohamed Morsi. The judges were trying to convene to review the legality of parliament's Islamist-dominated upper house and constitutional assembly, which last week approved a draft of the country's new constitution. Morsi is vowing to hold a national referendum on the constitution on Dec. 15, but any such vote is supposed to be supervised by judges, so the power struggle between Morsi — who triggered mass protests with a recent decree putting his actions above court review — and the courts, which are dominated by judges put in place before Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. Are Morsi and his Islamist allies destroying Egypt's opportunity to build a stable democracy?

The Islamists are hijacking Egypt's democracy: During last year's revolution, the Islamists joined forces with secular revolutionaries to topple Mubarak in the name of democracy, says Fareed Zakaria at CNN. Now that the Islamists are in control, the true revolutionaries are "finding themselves uneasy allies with these Mubarak loyalists." The fight over this constitution, "which they find to be very retrograde," could be decisive, as "it takes Egypt a significant step" toward Islamic rule.
"Islamists vs. the secularists in Egypt?"

Islamists should run a democratic Egypt: Yes, "Morsi comes from the Muslim Brotherhood," says Siddique Malik at the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal. He was also democratically elected, and he has demonstrated that he feels "the weight that a people equipped with newly won liberties" put on his shoulders. Otherwise he would have simply sided with Hamas, the Palestinian equivalent of the Brotherhood, in their recent fight with Israel, instead of brokering a ceasefire.
"Egyptian democracy key to regional peace"

Actually, neither side has this democracy thing down: It's hard to deny that the Islamist parties are trying to "impose their conservative religious and cultural views on the entire country," says Matthew Fisher at Canada.com. Still, voters put the Islamists in power, and opposition forces, although they claim to "cherish democracy," are acting as if they're the ones who triumphed in the elections. Until all Egyptians, win or lose, learn to accept election results, compromise will be impossible, and democracy just a dream.
"Egypt's Islamists and liberals claim to cherish democracy but not enough to practice it"

 

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