Muslims Need Liberalism, Not Just Democracy

Written by Mustafa Akyol on August 17th, 2011

[Published in The Daily]

Since 9/11, much ink has been spilled on the troubles of the world of Islam. The problem was painfully obvious: There were only a few functioning democracies in the Muslim world, and simply none among the Arabs. Some even presumed a fundamental contradiction between Islam and democracy. Islam, they argued, could only produce dictatorial regimes.

But there was a serious flaw in this argument. Most of the Middle Eastern dictators — Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Bashar al-Assad of Syria — were secular, not Islamic, figures. In fact, the Islamic groups in these countries, such as the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and its various franchises, were often brutally suppressed by the secular autocrats in question.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  1. you hit the nail on the head there… none of those leaders were islamic otherwise they would not have done that to their people

  2. Kathy Weemer says:

    I don’t agree that we need more democracy. I believe that the US was founded as a Republic, and that we have gotten away from the ideals of personal freedoms and liberty in exchange for majority rule. Unfortunately, in our country as in countries of Islam, majority rule is whatever the ruling class happens to be. Only difference in the US is the we are programmed subconsciously while others are controlled with physical force.

    Scary times indeed.

    Kathy

  3. nyoped says:

    Inductive Hyperbole: The argument draws a conclusion that is stated more strongly than the evidence actually supports.

    It is true that Middle Eastern dictators have suppressed pro-sheria movements like Muslim Brotherhood, however it hardly means these dictators were secular. They were simply a threat to their power just like secular political movements they have suppressed. In fact all these dictators included Islam in their constitution as state religion and main source of legislation. Hardly a secular move, is not it?

    The constitution of Tunusia included phrases like:
    “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate..”
    “to remain faithful to the teachings of Islam…”
    “Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign state. Its religion is Islam”
    “The President of the Republic is the Head of State. His religion shall be Islam”

    The constitution of Egypt included pharases like:
    “Islam is the religion of the state, and the Arabic language is its official language. The principles of Islamic law are the chief source of legislation. ”

    The constitution of Syria inluded phrases like:
    “The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam”
    “Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation.”

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