With the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the even more puritanical
Salafist Al Nour Party having stunned both themselves and Egyptians by
garnering more than 60 percent of the seats in Egypt’s parliamentary
elections, we’re about to see a unique lab test for the Middle East:
What happens when political Islam has to wrestle with modernity and
globalization without oil?
Islamist movements have long dominated Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both the
ayatollahs in Iran and the Wahhabi Salafists in Saudi Arabia, though,
were able to have their ideology and the fruits of modernity, too,
because they had vast oil wealth to buy off any contradictions. Saudi
Arabia could underutilize its women and impose strict religious mores on
its society, banks and schools. Iran’s clerics could snub the world,
pursue nuclearization and impose heavy political and religious
restrictions. And both could still offer their people improved living
standards, because they had oil.
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