“Al-Bernameg”: Amr Hamzawy on Democratic Institutions

In this translated clip – taken from the March 8 episode of “Bernameg al-Bernameg” – we see Egyptian political scientist cum politician Amr Hamzawy pretty effectively sum up the liberal critique of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led process of institution-building.

Hamzawy’s point is a rebuttal to those, inside and outside the Brotherhood, who’ve defined democracy and democratic legitimacy principally in terms of elections – or, as host Bassem Youssef and Hamzawy put it, “the ballot box.” As we’ve seen since (at least) November 22, a forward-moving democratic transition – just like democracy in general – depends on a shared perception that the system is inherently fair. If segments of the population are convinced that the system is irreparably stacked against them, then they have little reason to play by that system’s rules.

(Also, if you’re not familiar with it: In the first section of the clip, Hamzawy and actress Basma, his wife, are clowning on Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi and this clip from the March 1 episode of “Al-Bernameg.” It’s untranslated, but you don’t really need to speak Arabic to figure out that Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad al-Badi’ is feeding Morsi revolutionary buzzwords.)

Some notes:

First, apologies for putting the subtitles on top of the video. Blame Hamzawy’s white shirt.

Also, I’ve translated “القصاص” here as “justice,” but that loses a little something of the Arabic. The Arabic word, which doesn’t really have an English parallel, is close to “retribution” – a sort of justice for a wrong.

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