Unfolding the Paradoxes of a Modern Liberal ‘Secular’ State: Studying Egypt


  • Sania Ismailee Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi


Saba Mahmood presents with an interesting analysis of how secularism and modern liberal state, contrary to their claims of maintaining religious harmony, have actually exacerbated “interfaith inequalities”. Moreover, their claim of “religious neutrality” is false. The reality is that the modern state interferes in religious life. Mahmood bases her study in Egypt where Coptic Orthodox Christians, the minorities, are treated as second-class citizens despite their contribution to Egypt’s past. She points out the reason behind this is what is perceived as the “inherent intolerance” of Islam but modern secular governance. The West and the East have shared models of secularism. The book explores modern state’s relationship to religion and how the state’s regulation of religion affects religious identities. It is a well-researched treatise for anyone who wishes to understand secularism as a universal concept.

Author Biography

Sania Ismailee, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi

Sania Ismailee is a doctoral fellow in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. Her research area is political philosophy.