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A Turning Point in Egypt: Not on Direction But on the Speed of Islamist Transformation

The logical conclusion: the Brotherhood and Salafists will increasingly send violent vigilantes into the street to defend their government. They want to ensure that the constitution is adopted on December 15 -- whether the opposition boycotts the vote is irrelevant to them -- and afterward the Brotherhood regime can operate under that constitution. (As this article predicted, on December 11 gunmen opened fire on anti-government demonstrators in Tahrir Square, wounding nine.)

Then, the opposition will be told: "You’ve lost, accept it, you have no choice. And besides: we are acting legally under this constitution that the people accepted."

President Morsi will have to decide whether to try to override the courts and to reinstate the previously elected parliament (almost 75 percent Islamist), or to make a concession and allow elections for a new parliament (which might be only 55-60 percent Islamist).

Thus, the key issues are how high the level of violence will rise, and whether the current conflicts will make the regime speed up or slow down the fundamental transformation of Egypt into a Sharia state in which Islamic law is strictly interpreted.