Movie stars and Islamic moralism in Egypt

  • Author(s): Lila Abu-Lughod
  • When: 1995-04
  • Where: Social Text
  • In Egypt, local westernized elites are singled out as sources of corruption and moral decadence by Islamic groups deploying a populist rhetoric. An absence of faith is portrayed as the cause of this elite's immorality and greed, while the embracing of Islam is offered as the solution to the country's considerable social and economic problems. Despite the efforts such groups have made to provide social services, and especially medical clinics, for the poor who are not well served by overtaxed state institutions now under IMF and USAID pressure to privatize, they seem to have no serious programs for wealth redistribution, while at the same lime they support capitalism and private property. An important question that no one seems to have explored is why a political discourse in which morality displaces class as the central social problem is so appealing.

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