Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"In the decades before the Arab Spring,

the gulf between rulers and the ruled grew wider and more intractable. To be sure, Arab regimes weren't truly "secular." Islam was instrumentalized by the state to advance political objectives and consolidate power. Religious institutions were controlled by government appointees, with clerics becoming just another arm of the state. But Arab leaders' vision of the role of religion in political life differed, sometimes dramatically, from that of their populations. They sought to constrain and, at times, eliminate explicitly political expressions of religion.
These pseudo-secular regimes that portrayed themselves as progressive, liberal, and pro-women's rights were growing increasingly detached from a public mood that sought more, rather than less, mixing of religion and politics. In those rare occasions where meaningful elections were held, citizens made those preferences all too clear.
-Shadi Hamid, Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 207.