From Democracy to Sharia

A few weeks ago, amid the “Arab Spring” giddiness, a Shiite mosque opened in Cairo. This was big news. Among Egypt’s 80 million people, there are only a few thousand Shiites. It’s a 90 percent Sunni country, with even Christians vastly outnumbering the Shia. So, in their euphoria over the mosque’s inauguration, Shiite clerics heralded this Husseiniya (as Shiite mosques are known) as a symbol of rapprochement. The mosque would bridge the sectarian divide: a Shia center in this bustling Sunni city, yet a house of worship, thus emphasizing what unites rather than divides Muslims in one of Islam’s most important nations.

Such stories were once the hallmark of the Arab Spring narrative. “Democracy” was in the air. The corrupt, cancerous, pro-American dictator was gone. With their yearning hearts now sated by freedom, Egyptians would pull together, the light of liberty guiding them to prosperity.

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