Egyptian Revolution, Muslim Brotherhood, and Empty Signifiers…


The Egyptian uprising has brought together differences within the Egyptian society overrunning them by an overwhelmingly unifying rhetoric.  Tahrir square has become an unmistakable symbol of this integration. In its statement today, Muslim Brotherhood (MB) minced no words in emphasizing that it was part of a national movement for all Egyptian people. The statement was aimed at debunking what MB terms as the hearsay.

The signifiers All Egyptian People and National Movement, or even Arab People, are empty enough to bring together different people under the same banner.  The raging human waves in Tahrir square are a proof of the strength of such empty signifiers in forging a popular movement.  Ernesto Laclau argues that empty signifiers are crucial to any unifying rhetoric.  That is to say, by being more Egyptian in its rhetoric, the  MB becomes part of a movement that grows in its strength while waving the flag of Egypt. Egypt as a category is not loaded with demands of only one religious group. It is religiously neutral and empty enough to become the ‘surface of inscription’ for the demands of diverse groups within the Egyptian society.

The question is, can this also happen in the case of Pakistan?

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About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts

5 Responses to “Egyptian Revolution, Muslim Brotherhood, and Empty Signifiers…”

  1. I am working on a paper that examines populism in the Egyptian Revolution. I employ Laclau’s theory of populism with a focus on empty signifiers. In my paper, I examine the demand of Egyptian demonstrators “The people want the oust of the regime” as the empty signifier, a rhetoric under which millions of Egyptians unified in Tahrir Square. This signifier has also been sooo empty that it included all the unfulfilled social, democratic and political demands of Egyptians.

  2. Sarah, the phrase that you give here is referencing a desire,”The people want to oust the regime.” It would be interesting for you to consider what qualifies as the empty signifier. Must it not be a noun? or can it be a ‘wish’? or something else….’We the People,’ sound to me like one…Thanks for visiting my blog, and best wishes with the paper. Stay in touch and, if possible, do share the draft of your paper with me

  3. Thanks Irfan! This is helpful. “We the people” is a good suggestion.
    Do you think “Tahrir Square” can be another one? before the revolution this square was just a place like any other square, but during the revolution it was like a home for all demonstrators. If you were in Tahrir Square or if you support those who are in Tahrir there, t hen you belong. If you were not, then you are excluded. What do you think?

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