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Democratization Processes in Egypt and Morocco During the Arab Spring

A Critical Rationalist Perspective


PHOTO CREDIT | Sophia Valkova on Unsplash


October 2019


Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding


Bianca Matras

PhD Student in Political Sciences at University of Luxembourg



The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NextGen 5.0

The paper analyses the democratization processes in Egypt and Morocco during the Arab Spring by using a critical rationalism approach developed by Karl Popper. Why states with more power did not survived the revolution, while so called weak ones did? Why the protests in countries like: Jordan, Oman, Algeria, and Morocco resulted in limited change, while in others such as: Syria and Egypt the impact was so different? Are monarchies more capable of overcoming the revolutionary waves? And if so, what makes them stronger? The study answers these questions by tackling the widespread belief according to which Islam is not compatible with democracy and it shifts the focus from "compatibility" proposing a new approach instead, namely: “What form a democratic state can take in a Muslim-majority society?”.


Democracy performs a vital function for both politics and epistemology. It provides a peaceful means for reform and change of government, while ensuring the freedom of thought and speech necessary for intellectual progress. This process encourages a pluralism of ideas and groups, it is the necessary precondition for the "working out of political meaning and aims” and is vital for the processes of critical through and the goal of emancipation through knowledge. The open society of Popper is identified as his idea of democracy, that aims to promote criticism and diversity without succumbing either to violence or irreconcilable social division. It shifted the concept of Plato and Karl Marx that the guiding principles of politics should be determined by answers given to the question “Who should rule”. Instead we should ask: How can we so organize political institutions, that bad and incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage? Which is followed by another essential question: How can we get rid of those rulers without violence? [1]

Dictatorship or some form of democracy? Islam is not compatible with democracy and secularism. Islam is a global system and a Muslim out of this system is like a fish out of the sea: It will certainly be able to live in a pond, in an aquarium or even in a glass of water (which constitutes its space of freedom) ... but it will never be as good as in its original ocean [2]. For someone who lived under another form of government, that is, under a dictatorship which cannot be removed without bloodshed, will know that a democracy, imperfect though it is, is worth fighting for and, in some cases worth dying for. If we base our theory on this, that there are only two alternatives known to us: either a dictatorship or some form of democracy and we do not base our choice on the goodness of democracy, which may be doubtful, but solely on the evilness of a dictatorship, which is certain. Not only because the dictator is bound to make bad use of his power, but because a dictator, even if he were benevolent, would rob all others of their responsibility, and thus of their human rights and duties. This is a sufficient basis for deciding in favor of democracy, that is, a rule of law that enables us to get rid of the government. No majority, however large, ought to be qualified to abandon this rule of law [3].

Between January and April 2011, public demand for political reform cascaded from Tunis to Cairo, Sanaa, Amman, and Manama. This inspired people in Casablanca, Damascus, Tripoli, and dozens of other secondary cities to take to the streets to demand change. By May, the political casualties were significant: Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, two of the region’s dictators were gone, Libya was locked in a civil war, and several constitutional monarchs had sacked their cabinets and committed to constitutional reforms (and some several times over). Governments around the region had sought peace by promising their citizens hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending measures for infrastructure projects, family and unemployment benefits, free or subsidized food, salary increases for civil servants and military personnel, tax cuts, affordable housing subsidies, and social security programs. Morocco and Saudi Arabia appeared to fend off serious domestic uprisings, but the outcomes for other regimes were far from certain [4]. Democratization movements had existed long before technologies and the Arab Spring can be explained by statistics on the youth bulge, declining economic productivity, rising wealth concentration, high unemployment, and low quality of life. These explanatory factors are part of the story of social change. But with these technologies, people sharing an interest in democracy built extensive networks, created social capital, and organized political action. Virtual networks materialized in the streets. And to some extent, social media shaped events and outcomes [5].

Historical record shows that there exist different models of democracy. In the minimalist definition, democracy is a type of political system in which power alternates through regular, competitive elections, and citizens enjoy certain basic rights. Democratic transitions constitute another body of research, and studies have distinguished at least four pathways of democratization: political pacts, breakdowns between civil and military elites, international pressure, and grassroots movements demanding change. Steps toward the institutionalization of democracy may include liberalization, transition, and consolidation but democratization has its risks too. The Algerian experience of the 1990s compels us to acknowledge the perils as well as the promises of democracy, and to appreciate the importance of strong institutions and a civic culture to promote and protect civil liberties, participation, inclusion, and social welfare. The Algerian experience, or at the very least, the Indonesian case, may be the specter that haunts Egypt, where there have been no gains for women or the religious minorities, and arguably setbacks for both social groups. Not all protest movements are pro-democracy movements, and not all pro-democracy movements necessarily result in stable democratic institutions and cultures [6].

We can say that what happens in one Arab country has a more immediate and direct impact on another Arab country than do the happenings in other parts of the world: due to a real, or perceived, commonality of interests beyond a shared language, culture and historical-religious heritage [7]. But still, not one country in the Middle East is like another and in some cases the differences between them are very sharp. Although countries influenced each-other and the revolution spread within a short period due to the social media, a large part of the political order had survived while others didn’t [8]. Why states with more power did not survived the revolution, while so called weak ones did? Why the protests in countries like: Jordan, Oman, Algeria, and Morocco resulted in limited change, while in others such as: Syria and Egypt the impact was so different? Are monarchies more capable of overcoming the revolutionary waves? And if so, what makes them stronger?

Critical Rationalism in Middle East Politics

For the purpose of the study the researcher will use a critical rationalism philosophy developed by Karl Popper during the middle of the 20th century. It is based on the naturalistic idea that society has developed through a process of solving problems using trial and error [9]. Karl Popper’s critical rationalism is a widely-respected model of the logic of research today. It seeks to lead us beyond positivist research practice by replacing the method of “verification”, a process of empirical validation of hypotheses based on systematic observation and inductive reasoning, with the method of “falsification”. Falsification is a process of empirical elimination of hypotheses based on the systematic testing of hypotheses and deductive reasoning [10]. In his book “Conjectures and Refutation: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge” he stated that “it is easy to obtain confirmations, or verification, for nearly every theory” if we look for confirmations. “Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory” an event which would have refuted the theory.

The plurality of ways in Popper’s critical rationalism does help science to promote openness to new ways and methods. A theory that has passed many severe tests may be termed “highly corroborated” In Popper’s estimation, the more a theory is corroborated the better testable it must be [11]. If a new theory implies some novel prediction that background theory could not have led one to expect (or even that background theory could have led one not to expect), then this prediction provides opportunity to test the theory severely. Popper insisted that corroboration is only a guide to the way in which a theory has passed tests up to a given time. He did not think that it provided a guide to the future success of the theory. “We are always concerned with explanations, predictions, and tests, and ... the method of testing hypotheses is always the same” [12].

Popper’s point of view was that no amount of observations (of white swans) can ever establish that all future observations (of swans) will yield the same result; but a single observation of a counter-example (a black swan) can very well falsify an erroneous generalization (the hypothesis that all swans are white) or may at least cast serious doubt on it [13]. Imre Lakatos (1976, 1977) pointed out that in the practice of research, it usually takes more than such an individual instance of falsification to definitely “falsify” (i.e., have us give up) an entire research program or research paradigm; the assumption that there is such a thing as a single, conclusive critical test is simplistic. But Poppers logic was that research is a never-ending process of challenging current hypotheses by subjecting them to the most severe observational tests available. Even hypotheses that survive all tests remain inherently provisional; for we can never quite exclude that a future observation might contradict them [14].

In the subfield of IR, Popper’s philosophy of science has become overshadowed by those of Kuhn and Lakatos. When Political scientists address philosophy of science, they typically reference Kuhn, Lakatos and occasionally Popper, rarely there is a curious combination of the three [15]. Kuhn’s “The structure of Scientific Revolutions” have had a huge impact on the philosophy of science, even though he never intended his ideas for the social sciences and he draws a strong distinction between natural and social science. But still, political scientists have looked to Kuhn meta-theoretical guides to inquiry and references to him are very common. Was Popper marginalized due to the narrow reading of his work? Kuhn evidence that falls outside the dominants framework is considered “incommensurate” and can be “ignored”. Thomas Walker argues that frequent reliance on Kuhn is inappropriate, as the appearance of paradigm mentalities prompt scholars to break into “narrow, rigid, highly specialized, and conservative research approaches that suppress alternatives”. While Popper said that limits scholars vision, curiosity and creativity and he responded with severe criticism of Kuhn’s ideas of normal science and the incommensurability between opposing theories [16].

The open society calls for competition between various theories, not the hegemonic reign of one paradigm or research program and he assert that great science perishes in a paradigm. If we compare these theories and their differences with regimes types, Kuhn models of paradigms operates more like strict authoritarian regimes. They are largely conservatives and seek to suppress criticism, opposition and coexistence with its rivals is highly unlikely, while Popper views endorse and open society of scholars, employing a diversity of theories and methods. And so, as the world grows more complicated and more interdependent, questions regarding politics can hardly fit a single paradigm or a single method, and falsification is a viable answer. Theories can never be proven beyond critical doubt and that even our most reliable theories can be overturned will nurture a humbler spirit of inquiry and we cannot afford the mistaken belief that models of science depicted by Kuhn provide appropriate guides for the study of politics [17].

When the struggle for transition to democracy persistently failed in Latin America during the 1970s, the greatest obstacle for democracy there was thought to be the legacy of the Catholic Church which had not allowed room for individualism in Iberian societies. Today, many have similar justifications as to why democracy is often absent in countries with large Muslim populations. While in Europe, secular discourse was the vehicle of political opposition to authoritarian governments, in Muslim-majority countries, religious discourse has often expressed populist opposition to authoritarianism. And so, it is anachronistic to discuss the compatibility of Islam with democracy. Actual debate should be focus on: “What forms a democratic state can take in a Muslim-majority society?” as Islamic traditions have different political and historical backgrounds and hence, different paths to democracy [18].

Democratization processes in Egypt and Morocco


Egypt’s short-lived Kefaya movement was put down by the Mubarak regime, but it was followed by simmering dissidence aided by the growing use of social networking tools by the young, along with more traditional forms of collective action such as worker strikes. The Muslim Brotherhood, was founded in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna [19]. Although long banned as a political party, had expanded its influence through supporters who ran as independents in parliamentary elections, controlled a range of professional associations, and dominated Egypt’s numerous mosques and religious centers. The Brotherhood had issued calls for political reform and democracy, advocating ‘the freedom of forming political parties’ and ‘independence of the judiciary system’, but also ‘conformity to Islamic Sharia Law’. Given that Sharia law in its current interpretations distinguishes between women and men and Muslims and non-Muslims, there were fears among liberals and leftists that the Brotherhood brand of democracy would not be inclusive [20].

Following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood took power in the first free presidential elections, with Egyptians electing Islamist Mohammed Morsi to the Presidency in June 2012 [21]. After a long and divisive battle, Egypt approved its first post-authoritarian constitution (the “2012 Constitution”) in a highly controversial referendum held in late December 2012. Far from uniting Egypt’s disparate political factions, the constitutional drafting process exposed the deep fissures underlying the modern Egyptian republic. One of the most divisive of these issues is the extent to which the modern Egyptian legal system ought to be dependent upon the “Sharia,” or Islamic law [22]. 

The 2012 Egyptian Constitution, it accurately reflects the Egypt’s hybrid nature of political and legal regime over the last 150 years: continuity with Islamic legal and religious traditions, while at the same time embracing as national goals modernization in the fields of the organization of the state, economic development, and a qualified acceptance of the post-World War II regime of international human rights law. Egyptian substantive law today, as is the case in much of the Arab world, is therefore a combination of uncodified rules of Islamic law, particularly in family law, but also interstitially in other areas of the legal system; transplanted and partially-modified European codes; and positive legislation adopted by the state throughout the twentieth century claiming to be in conformity with Islamic law. The Arab Spring which has substantially empowered Islamic political parties such as the Nahḍa Party in Tunisia and the Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt, both with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, has now brought a denouement to this theoretical debate. The long-standing unresolved ideological differences within the Arab world regarding modernization, the nature of state authority, and their relationship to Islam, was on the table for democratic resolution. Successful resolution of these ideological conflicts could result in new, popularly recognized constitutions that could provide the Arab world with a constitutional template sufficiently stable to permit the consolidation of democratic institutions. On the other hand, failure to reach consensus on the “Islamic” question could presage a return to authoritarian systems of rule, thus vindicating, at least partially, the ancien régime and a broader shift to a common-law culture would increase the Islamic legitimacy of Egypt’s overall legal system [23].

The Egyptian legal system thus reflects three sources of legitimacy: The uncodified tradition of Islamic law; The legal transplant imported largely from Europe; and: The positive legislation of the modern Egyptian state that has been explicitly articulated as an attempt to articulate an Islamic legal sensibility that is consistent with the modernist project. For the Muslim Brotherhood, the same characteristics that helped it to win power, also contributed to its downfall. Brotherhood’s organizational characteristics meant that it was deeply insular, and this became a tremendous liability once it achieved power. On the other hand, the totalitarianism was another cause of its downfall. It’s hierarchical organization culture, in which internal dissenters are banished and eternal critics are often viewed as enemies of Islam, meant that it was poorly prepared for governing in the more competitive political environment that followed Mubarak’s ouster [24]. Consequently, all these resulted in a divided country and some accused media for manipulating the crowd. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists imposed the issue of identity on the people’s revolution and the secular parties turned to the army to destroy the ballot box [25].

During its time in power, the Brotherhood was forced to rely on technocrats close to the old regime, who were not necessarily fond of their new political leaders and had reasons to hinder their exercise of power [26]. One year after elections, the Brotherhood was struggling to transform itself from an opaque and repressed opposition group to a credible political force. Some will say that was inexperienced and have failed to demonstrate their capability of leading a nation of 85m people. Dwindling foreign reserves are restricting the government’s ability to import fuel, leading to frequent power cuts and long queues at petrol stations. Public anger was rising [27]. Besides, very few cadres in the movement had any of the technical and theoretical knowledge essential for modern statecraft and socioeconomic factors also played an important role [28].

Morsi’s autocratic edicts and failed governance catalyzed a mass movement against him, as well as a mutiny within the state’s institutions. The crisis climaxed on June 2013, when millions of Egyptians poured into the streets to demand his ouster. Morsi refused to negotiate a political resolution, and with each passing day the situation on the ground deteriorated further [29]. The Muslim Brotherhood connived with SCAF (Supreme Court of the Armed Forces) against all secular revolutionary powers and at the expense of a truly democratic posture. This caused a detrimental split among the anti-Mubarak opposition front. The split allowed the military and the old regime to survive and win by allying themselves with one side then with the other, before getting rid of both [30].

With the consolidation of power by general (now president) Sisi, who has swapped his military uniform for the statesman’s suit, authoritarianism has made a comeback on the Egyptian political scene and the Muslim Brotherhood has been designated as a terrorist organization. Sisi remains remarkably popular with Egyptians, but his legitimacy resides in providing them with security. And while some may wonder if President Sisi’s mandate will last very long [31] the causes of the 2011 revolution still exists, have uglier faces and Egypt failed its way to democracy. At least for now [32].


In the context of North Africa and the Middle East, Morocco is in many respects a unique state. On one hand, like all monarchies in the Middle East, its institutions are based on a constitutional monarchy which claims legitimacy through its genealogical descendent from the Prophet Mohammed and from the fact that its ruling representative is also the caliph (the legitimate successor to the Prophet’s secular and religious authority). But Morocco also provides other forms of legitimacy for its ruling institutions, particularly for the Alawite sultanate, now transformed into a monarchy. It has a Constitution accepted by referendum in 1972, in which the role and succession of the monarchy within the state is enshrined. Furthermore, under the terms of that Constitution, there is provision for a limited but pluralistic democratic system [33].

In 2011, inspired by the events in Tunisia and Egypt, young Moroccans began the February 20 movement to address monarchical power, transparency and corruption. And even today many of the social and economic conditions that precipitated conflict still exist: GDP growth has not exceeded three percent, one out of every five youth in the country are still unemployed, and social welfare remains poor [34]. So then, why the people did not have succeeded in igniting revolution? And how Morocco managed to avoid outright revolt during the Arab Spring?

One explanation for this lack of revolution is that Morocco’s leader, King Mohammed VI, did not seek to retain absolute power in the face of protest but rather agreed to reform [35]. The February 20 movement, involving over 200,000 Moroccans, represented the first time in Morocco that the king was openly criticized, and they didn’t shoot people [36]. The Arab Spring in Morocco was characterized by a collected response by its leader and a desire for further progress by its populace. King Mohammed VI chose to publicly address the concerns of demonstrators and announced plans for constitutional revisions within a month. The King’s response quelled dissent and swiftly transitioned protest into political action. The 2011 constitutional referendum was a success on the part of King Mohammed VI in so far as the reforms calmed Moroccans and satisfied their demand for an enumeration of human rights.  The existence of an active, uncensored civil society in Morocco has also allowed citizens to express their opinions without necessitating the overthrow of the government. There are currently 30,000 to 50,000 associations in Morocco that focus on issues such as women’s and children’s rights, human rights in general, and the development of the Amazigh movement. Compared to the civil societies in Egypt and Tunisia that emerged in the wake of the Arab Spring, civil society in Morocco has been a component of the country’s socio-political fabric for over two decades. According to an internal study of Morocco’s civil society conducted by Espace Associatif and CIVICUS, civil society enjoys high levels of public trust and perceived impact. Most Moroccan citizens believe civil society serves the public and influences government policy. Government support of the associative movement has been one of the main reasons why civil society has flourished [37].

In the case of Morocco, however successful it may look in the context of the Arab Spring, its Islamist movement if far from homogenous. Pluralistic by nature, Moroccan Islamism can be divided between two groups: The Justice and Development Party (Hizbo alaadalati wa atanmia, or PJD in its French acronym) and Justice and Charity (al ‘Adl wal ‘Ihsan, JC). In political terms and by its clandestine organization, JC must be considered as the most important Islamist group. In contrast, the PJD was formed from the fusion of many small moderate Islamist organizations and monarchist insiders and is a politically moderate but socially conservative party [38]. The PJD represents what might be described as “legitimized Islam” or “state Islam”. In contrast with JC, it does not call into question the Moroccan kingdom’s political foundations. The party is pro-monarchist and does not endorse a revolutionary rhetoric of social change aimed at creating an Islamic state. On the contrary, it holds that state and society are not to be “Islamicised” because Morocco is already a Muslim country. It nevertheless insists on the principle of defending Moroccan society’s Islamic identity through legislative and institutional means when that identity is threatened. This involves a basic discourse of probity founded on respect for religious morality [39].

The PJD support for democracy in part results from a desire to appear respectable in a context in which Islamism was considered an unreliable partner. While for the JC, locked in conflict with the monarchy, supporting democracy represents a means of showing opposition to the regime. And so, Moroccan Islamists have increasingly become participants within the European political space. But, while Moroccan Islamists claim to support democratic rule and show an admiration for Europe in this regard, there is a desire to distinguish between being pro-democracy and being pro-Western. The Islamists regularly denounce Western cultural and political imperialism towards their country, claiming that democratization is only a pretext for Europe and the United States to Westernize (and thus de-Islamicise) Moroccan society. They assert that Moroccan society itself possesses the cultural resources necessary to become a democratic society and that these are to be drawn from Islamic sources. Therefore, Moroccan Islamists also desire to distance themselves from Western influence and schools of thought (the philosophy of the Enlightenment, for example). Moreover, they believe that Europe opposes elections when Islamists are brought to power. As a PJD leader who lives in France stated: “On the one hand, Europe suspects us of having an ambivalent relationship with democracy but when we win in elections, they oppose our victory as happened with Hamas in Palestine. In such a context, how are we supposed to value democracy and desire that the democratic process develops in the Arab world?” However, these anti-Western criticisms do not at all represent a desire to break with Europe; on the contrary. In the mind of the Islamists, collaborating with the West is a political necessity: their aim is to appear as respectable agents of change [40].

But even so, Popper’s idea of an open society can very much be noticed in how Morocco dealt with the revolutionary waves during the Arab spring. The openness for new ideas combined with the concept of pluralism made Morocco to some extent a model for Arab Democracy. Morocco's monarchy retained its legitimacy due to its flexibility and pragmatism when dealing with domestic and foreign changes. It renewed itself without losing its religious legitimacy, in a country historically known as conservative.


The assumption that monarchies are stronger than authoritarian regimes it may be one way of judging the Arab Spring in Egypt and Morocco, but it is not enough. Samuel Huntington coined the term “The King’s Dilemma.” It highlighted a key problem monarchs face: how to liberalize without losing control. To Huntington, the choices are stark: The monarch could either “attempt to maintain his authority by continuing to modernize but intensify the repression necessary to keep control,” or transform his monarchy into a constitutional monarchy where “the king reigns but does not rule” [41]. Although Mohammed VI continued the legacy of his father King Hassan in the areas of human rights and democracy and many still talk about the Hassanian democracy, it shifted its approach. Under Hassan, the Moroccan political scene has been marred by a state of emergency (1965-71), two failed military coups (1971 and 1972), corrupt elections, including vote-buying, rigid patron-client relationships, and administrative interference, media censorship, and the use of deadly force to crush true opposition. One of the most disturbing examples of the regime’s intolerance of opposition was the 1965 riots in which hundreds of protesters were killed by government forces. The riots symbolized the growing rift between the monarchy and the opposition who were calling for an end to monarchical rule in Morocco. He could co-opt members of various parties, squelch dissent, crush enemies, and still be regarded by many as a beloved monarch [42].

During the Arab Spring, Mohammed faced the “King Dilemma” and it transformed the legacy of his father. The Moroccan monarchy did not react to counter the February 20 movement with even a fraction of the violence that its neighbors used. Even the most violent crackdown on March 13th in Casablanca did not result in any deaths. Second, under Mohammed VI, the monarchy engaged in a series of political, economic, and social reform projects that made the King arguably one of the most popular contemporary Arab rulers. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has allowed victims of past human rights abuses to talk about torture and other crimes that the state committed under Mohammed VI’s father, Hassan II. Third, partially reflecting his willingness to reform and commit to a “Moroccan-style” democracy, the King could quickly have absorbed the spirit of reform. He announced the formation of a committee that would revise Morocco’s constitution and appointed trusted reformers and experts to draft Morocco’s fifth constitution since it achieved independence in 1956. He thereby sent a message to the protesters that he understood, even championed, their demands. By doing so he also showed his willingness to adapt to the new political reality that the Arab Spring created [43].

In both Egypt and Morocco, the end of the popular uprisings ushered in a mainstream Islamist party. The difference was that the PJD, unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, adapted to the challenges. In 2013 when Istiqlal withdrew from the ruling coalition, citing Benkirane’s unwillingness to share power. The PJD became mired in gridlock with its political opponents. Four months later, it formed a new coalition with the secular National Rally of Independents Party. The ouster of Egyptian President Morsi in July put the PJD on the defensive. Tamarrod Morocco, a movement inspired by the anti-Islamist Tamarrod, or “rebel,” movement in Egypt that supported Morsi’s ouster, began calling for Islamist politicians to step down. PJD leaders tried to appease the monarchy, publicly distancing themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood. But they also responded to an outcry from their Islamist supporters by condemning the violent crackdowns on Egypt’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters. By 2015, the PJD’s political maneuvering allowed the party to remain the largest bloc in government, outlasting Islamists in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya [44].

The Western press has described a lot the Muslim Brotherhood as being moderate. But Mohammed VI is a real moderate. He’s a conservative in the sense that he belongs to a very old tradition and order, and he’s a liberal insofar as he advances women’s rights and has willingly abdicated some of his power. He’s a Muslim ruler who not only protects Jews, but declares Jewishness a part of Moroccan identity. He pushes for careful and deliberate change without overwhelming the country with too much at once, thus avoiding a hostile and potentially violent reaction from traditionalists [45]. Of course, one can argue that Morocco success in overcoming the revolutionary waves is due to its experience with mass protests and to some extent this is valid. But, when the Moroccan police have not interfered in the protests, and the government has made most of the right moves to prevent the protests from turning violent or spiraling out of control, it is a matter of willingness and resilience combined with soft power. This may be one answer to the question of “What forms a democratic state can take in a Muslim-majority society?”.

On the other hand, considering the aftermath of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Morocco the belief that Islam is not compatible with democracy might be simplistic. Indeed, the modern state Egypt, instead of integrating the modernist and Islamic sources of its own legitimacy, has maintained separate and parallel institutions which derive their legitimacy almost exclusively from the extent to which they are responsive to their own internal constituencies. In summary, the main factor that contributed to the Brotherhood’s political demise was its unique mindset resulted in the movement severely lacking in modern statesman-ship and alienated it from many mainstream Muslims. And so, the lack of experience, or leadership, in dealing with these issues was proved when the military chief, now president, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Morsi and with him the illusion of having Egypt as a democratic state. But does this mean that Islam is not compatible with democracy? Or that a gradual change is more effective than a radical one? Perhaps Egypt won’t look like a Jeffersonian democracy soon, but its rulers can be cajoled into at least gradual liberalization.


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2. Aissam, Ait-Yahya, “La religiosité du monde moderne: De l’idéologie islamique française”, (2015) francaise/,
3. From the archives: The open society and its enemies revisited, Karl Popper on Democracy, (2016)
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5. Philip N. Honward, Hussain, Muzammil, “Democracy’s Fourth Wave: Digital Media and the Arab Spring”, University of London, Oxford University Press, (2013), 24-18.
6. Moghadam, M, Valentine, “What is Democracy? Promises and Perils of the Arab Spring”, Northeastern University, SAGE, (2013), 394-397.
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8. Ibid, 3-4.
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12. Popper R. Karl, “The Poverty of Historicism”, Beacon Press, Boston, (1957), 132.
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15. Walker, C. Thomas, “The Perils of Paradigm Mentalities: Revisiting Kuhn, Lakatos, and Popper”, Vol. 8, No. 2, (2010), 434.
16. Walker, C. Thomas, “The Perils of Paradigm Mentalities: Revisiting Kuhn, Lakatos, and Popper”, Vol. 8, No. 2, (2010), 439, 435.
17. Ibid, 447, 439.
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19. 9 Bedford Row Report “The History of the Muslim Brotherhood”, London,, (2015), 9.
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21. “Muslim Brotherhood-backed candidate Morsi wins Egyptian presidential election”, (2012),
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24. Trager, Eric, “Arab Fall: How Muslim Brotherhood won and Lost Egypt in 891 Days”, Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, (2016), 3-4.
25. Abd El Fattah, Barghouti, Mourid et al.
26. Létourneau, Jean-François,” Explaining the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rise and Fall in Egypt, Mediterranean Politics”, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, Mediterranean Politics, (2016), 6.
27. Saleh, Heba, “Egypt: A revolution betrayed”,, (2013), 7,6, 3.
28. Létourneau, Jean-François,” Explaining the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rise and Fall in Egypt, Mediterranean Politics”, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, Mediterranean Politics, (2016), 6-7.
29. Trager, Eric, “Arab Fall: How Muslim Brotherhood won and Lost Egypt in 891 Days”, Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, (2016), 2.
30. Poippi, Daniela, “The Muslim Brotherhood and the Illusion of Power”, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Instituto Affari Internationali, (2012), 3.
31. Létourneau, Jean-François,” Explaining the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rise and Fall in Egypt, Mediterranean Politics”, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, Mediterranean Politics, (2016), 7.
32. Abd El Fattah, Barghouti, Mourid et al.
33. Joffe, George, “Morocco: Monarchy, Legitimacy and Succession”, Third World Quarterly, Volume 10, Issue 1, 2007, 201-202.
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