These essays by one of Egypt's most influential intellectuals provide a fascinating perspective on the political, religious, economic, and social issues of contemporary Egypt. Written over a period of fifteen years, the essays cover a range of topics including civil society and the prospects for democratization in Egypt and the region, the urban sociology of Cairo, the development of Egypt's landed bourgeoisie, structural adjustment and the processes of economic liberalization, and the complexities of ethnic conflicts and minorities in the Arab world. A number of essays address different aspects of Islamic activism in Egypt: the formation, membership, and activities of activist groups and their philosophies, political and social roles, and ideological relations with the West. Written at various points in the modern history of Islamic activism, democratic reform, and economic and social liberalization, these essays reflect the processes of change and continuity in the sociopolitical development of present-day Egypt, while a new postscript written by the author in 2001 brings the story into perspective at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
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