More than two months after the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood was driven from power and the country’s army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, surged to the fore, Egypt remains deeply divided about the role of religion in public life. Whether in fiery mosque sermons, slow-moving constitutional deliberations or triumphal military statements, the banner of heaven is being waved by all sides.
“Religion is being more or less used the same way by the military as it was by the Brotherhood,” said Ahmad El Azabawy, a former political science professor who is now an independent analyst. “Just with more subtlety, because now, of course, people are just coming out of a bitter experience with an Islamic regime.”
Religious minorities make up about 15% of the population, and Islam is the state religion. It pervades daily existence in Egypt as surely as the muezzin’s call echoing through dusty streets.