Francesco Cavatorta examines MERIP’s 50 years of covering the complex phenomenon of political Islam and finds that much of it is based on field research, participant observation, interviews and ethnography. The result has been a rich diversity of approaches that comprehend the plural nature of Islamism, directly engage the words and deeds of Islamists and provide insights that prepare readers to understand real-world events. Forthcoming in the Fall 2021 issue “MERIP at 50.”
Perusing US media coverage and analysis of the crisis in Egypt over the last two weeks has been quite disappointing. As the protests against the elected president Muhammad Mursi escalate, the main players in the struggle and the stakes involved are often mischaracterized. Some might ask: Why does this matter?
President Muhammad Mursi’s Thursday night address did not mollify protesters, but it clarified the stakes in any dialogue between his supporters and the National Salvation Front led by Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdin Sabbahi and Amr Moussa.
Hani Shukrallah, the distinguished former editor of al-Ahram Weekly, laments the “decline and fall” of the Society of Muslim Brothers from a partner in a diverse Egyptian nation to a narrowly partisan faction willing to beat up opponents, “the very caricature of itself as painted for years by its bitterest enemies.”
The longest and strongest wave of worker protest since the end of World War II is rolling through Egypt. In March, the liberal daily al-Masri al-Yawm estimated that no fewer than 222 sit-in strikes, work stoppages, hunger strikes and demonstrations had occurred during 2006. In the first five months of 2007, the paper has reported a new labor action nearly every day. The citizen group Egyptian Workers and Trade Union Watch documented 56 incidents during the month of April, and another 15 during the first week of May alone. 
Tal‘at Qasim got his start in al-Gama‘a al-Islamiyya  (the Islamic Group) in the 1970s when it took control of many student organizations in the Egyptian universities. He led the student union in Minya, a hotbed of the Islamist movement, and later was a founding member of the majlis al-shura (governing council) of the organization at large. Sheikh ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman later became head of the majlis.