The contemporary intersection of religion and politics in Egypt is the product of a rich and complex history, characterized by both gradual change and revolutionary rupture. Islam arrived in the 7th century CE, and Egypt emerged as a center of politics and culture in the Muslim world. It was invaded by Napoleon in 1798 and governed by the British for much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The combination of local and European intellectual traditions created a fertile ground for groups ranging from religious modernists to secular socialists. The Revolution of 1952 established a nationalist, secular regime led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, but under his successor, Anwar Sadat, Islam became the official state religion and Sharia the main source of law. Faith-based political parties are outlawed, but the Muslim Brotherhood remains the country’s largest non-governmental organization and political opposition bloc. The Constitution grants freedom of religion, but in practice authorities often restrict it. Among the most directly affected by this are Coptic Christians, whose presence in Egypt dates back to the 1st century and who still represent approximately 10% of the population. In 2011, a popular revolution including both secular and religious actors overthrew Hosni Mubarak, who had governed the country for thirty years.
ESSAYS ON EGYPT