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Debating whether ISIS is really "Islamic" or is better understood as an exotic apocalyptic death cult does not bring the world closer to understanding how the group governs. Indeed, whatever it believes about the apocalypse, it sees itself as creating a distinctive legal order for the here and now, one that is based on a literal (if selective) reading of early Islamic materials and a long-standing theory of statecraft and legal authority.
On its face, Sisi's election represents a victory for secular authoritarianism over Islamism. From al Qaeda’s perspective, though, the election results are a boon: They have validated the group's core ideological claim that violence -- rather than peaceful participation in politics -- is the way to build an Islamic state.
When Egypt’s 31-year-old emergency law finally expired in May 2012, Egyptians hoped that the days of arbitrary arrests and crackdowns on dissent in the name of national security were over. But thanks to an unprecedented counterterrorism clause in Egypt's new constitution, those days are here to stay.
Once a police state, Egypt has descended into lawlessness. Crime is on the rise, the black market for weapons is booming, and the police are too lazy or incompetent to do anything about it. Until the country builds an accountable state, Egyptians will continue to take their security into their own hands.