Tagged: democracy Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • aziz 5:29 am on May 23, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: democracy,   

    #Egypt votes today! Nadia Elwady advises the next President, whoever her is, to beware the Egyptian people. rightly so.

  • aziz 7:15 pm on February 9, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: democracy, , , , ,   

    Jonathan Tobin, making the case for terrorism:

    For a democracy at war, the only truly immoral thing to do would be to let totalitarian Islamists like those in Tehran triumph.

    Sadly, this moral bankruptcy is perfectly reflected across the democracy/totalitarian boundary.

    Also – see Larison.

  • thabet 2:17 pm on May 8, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: democracy, , , , ,   

    This is a daft idea:

    David Cameron is considering plans to create a “multi-faith” House of Lords where Muslim imams could sit alongside Anglican and Catholic bishops.

    How about we clear the upper chamber of our legislature of the so-called Lords Spiritual?

    • thabet 2:18 pm on May 8, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Having said that, if it is acceptable to have Anglican bishops, it is good enough for Muslim, Catholic, Pentecostal, Hindu, etc religious representatives to be there too. It is not particularly democratic to tread the path of making these kinds of exceptions. Plus, it seems to wind up bigots such as those leaving comments to the article above…

    • aziz 5:42 am on May 9, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      to be honest i dont entirely understand why there are Catholic bishops in the House of Lords after all. I thought that was the whole point of having an Anglican church?

  • thabet 2:39 pm on April 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: democracy, , , ,   

    This link will amuse you. Click through and read it.

  • thabet 4:45 am on April 1, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , democracy, , , , ,   

    It’s April Fool’s Day:

    The upheaval we see today in our region is driven by a clash of generations rather than a clash of civilisations. The older generation had greater respect for land than science. But we live in an age when science, more than soil, has become the provider of growth and abundance. Living just on the land creates loneliness in an age of globality.

    Israel is an example of that today: technology and not territory are the drivers of wealth. We have shown that with a small piece of land, little water and no oil, it is possible to create a thriving economy and a sustainable democracy.

    Israel welcomes the wind of change, and sees a window of opportunity. Democratic and science-based economies by nature desire peace. Israel does not want to be an island of affluence in an ocean of poverty. Improvements in our neighbours’ lives mean improvements to the neighbourhood in which we live.

    Israelis understand that this is no less true of the Palestinians. That is why successive Israeli governments have given their full support to the efforts of Palestinians in the West Bank to build their own economy, their own institutions, and their own security forces. Economic growth in the West Bank is now close to 10% annually. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians see the tangible fruit of this co-operation. Knowledge, freedom and peace are inseparable.

    • aziz 6:00 am on April 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Taking credit for Palestinian growth? Obscene, but not surprising.

      10% growth is a meaningless number anyway. If I’m earning $1 a day and then I start earning $1.50, thats 50% growth right there. BFD.

  • thabet 3:41 pm on March 29, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , democracy, , , , ,   

    The absurdity of it all:

    William Hague just gave a press conference on the big Libya conflab in London at which he obviously thought it would look good to be flanked by an Arab. So he sat next to the Prime Minister of Qatar, who solemnly told us that the Libyan people have the right to choose their own leadership. Fucking QATAR! An absolute monarchy.

    It becomes even more funny when you consider our unelected head of state and unelected upper chamber. Fucking BRITAIN!

  • aziz 8:17 pm on March 7, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: democracy,   

    Is Nouri the new Hosni?

    Two political parties that led demonstrations in Baghdad over the past two weeks said Monday that security forces controlled by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had ordered them to close their offices.

    The actions, which the government said were merely evictions, came amid growing concerns that Mr. Maliki’s American-backed government is using force and other measures to stifle dissent in this fragile democracy, where tens of thousands of demonstrators have seized on the upheaval sweeping the Arab world to rally for government reforms and better services.

    Shutting down political opposition is kind of the exact opposite of democracy.

    • Maitham 8:21 am on March 8, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Now, from Maliki’s perspective, these are two parties who weren’t popular enough to win a single seat in parliament, yet still have the nerve to kick up trouble and incite street demonstrations. So (1) they are being sore losers, and (2) no one important will be too offended if he cracks down on them.

      I have no love for Maliki, mind you. Just highlighting his point of view and the calculus behind his actions.

      • aziz 10:10 am on March 8, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        you say “incite street demonstrations” as if that’s a bad thing. regardless, its not how democracy works. Shall we forbid Green Party rallies in the US? Communists? Westboro Church?

        • aziz 11:12 am on March 8, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          i think you give him too much credit.

        • Maitham 2:57 pm on March 8, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I’m not sure what kind of credit you think I’m giving him. The man definitely sees himself as the Shia answer to Saddam, and the signs have been clear and blatant for a while now.

      • Maitham 10:31 am on March 8, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Of course! I never said it was a bad thing, nor did I deny that that is how democracy works. I am merely channeling Maliki’s train of thought here.

  • aziz 6:24 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: democracy, ,   

    Is it true that if given democracy, muslims will vote for Islam?

    I think the answer is yes and no. At present, political Islam is the only democratic alternative to oligarchy, autocracy, and pseudo imeperialism. OF COURSE muslims will vote for political Islam – that is because Islam (as with any culturally pervasive major faith) is what they can turn to for comfort and succor.

    However the thesis that secular political democracy is incompatible with Islamic societies is simply wrong. After all, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan all emerged from colonial and imperial eras as secularist states. Modern day Turkey has a unique history in that it turned away from Islam as a rejection of the post-imperial era. But the rest of the middle east was largely secular – and leaned communist in most cases. Nasser himself and the pan-Arab movement was an explicitly intellectual movement that disavowed faith and created the vacuum which was then filled by Qutb. Saudi Arabia is another exception, due to oil.

    Fundamentally, there is nothing judeochristian about the concept of democracy. Islam itself has enough of a framework over the centuries of jurisprudence to support a fully democratic system, and most of the major empires in the Islamic world had elements of democratic rule. The millet system is a good example of a precursor to the concept and may well have been a partial inspiration for the American Founders themselves as they sought to articulate their desire fro greater autonomy – only they were pushed to an extreme.

    I think that political islam needs to now undergo the maturation phase. A great resource for watching how political Islam is evolving is POMED, the Project for Middle East Democracy blog. I’ve been reading them for years; another great resource has basically been everything Marc Lynch (Abu Aardvark) has ever written.

    I reject the thesis that Islam and democracy are incompatible, and I think that the present state of affairs in the muslim world is indeed best characterized as reactionary. The concept of democracy is not and end condition but a tool for an evolving process towards liberal, constitutional republics.

    • McKiernan 7:26 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Can you provide a working, valid definition of the use of the term you use called… political Islam ?

      • aziz 7:47 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        in the most general sense, political parties that explicitly draw upon Islamic values and principles to guide their platforms. The Muslim Brotherhood is political Islam; Hamas in Gaza is political Islam, Hezbollah is political Islam. Sinn Fein is political Christianity, the BJP is political Hinduism.

        • Abu Noor Al-Irlandee 8:07 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Aziz, the statement regarding Sinn Fein is ridiculous.

          • aziz 8:38 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            i could be wrong about Sinn Fein. My knowledge of it is admittedly thin. Are theu socialist instead of explicitly Christian?

            Perhaps a better analogy would be the Southern Republican Party in the US as political Christianity.

        • McKiernan 8:11 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Yes, I’d like to go there as well.

          Sinn Fein is not political Christianity. At best, it is a left wing republican (as in Republic of Ireland meaning) organization of irish nationalism seemingly flourishing in Norn Iron (Ulster) . It is more closely the representative of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and an organization light years removed from the original Irish Brotherhood and the original IRA of the 1910s and 1920s.

      • aziz 8:49 am on March 2, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        btw McK you can also use the tags on the post to explore the topic further – see:


    • Abu Noor Al-Irlandee 8:13 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      For all practical purposes I’m sure I agree with you Aziz. I certainly favor “democracy” over the dictatorships that prevail in the Muslim world and although I am sympathetic to Islamist parties when they are the opposition to such dictatorships and even to the idea of Islamist government, I am no fan of any established Islamist government and the idea of Islamist parties in power basically being right wing parties doesn’t excite me either. Certainly, it is historically ignorant to suggest that it is impossible for Muslims to use any type of government (what Muslims can do, will do, and have done are of course different questions than a statement regarding Islam).

      The theoretical question of whether Islam and democracy or Islam and secular democracy are compatible is meaningless without long discussions over what is democracy and what is secular, which are extraordinarily contested terms before we even get to figuring out what is the essential “Islam” with which to ask whether they are compatible.

      • aziz 8:39 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        well said! secular democracy is basically an illusion; there isn’t one on earth and never has been. Much is made of America’s separation of church and state, but this does not mean that the government is secular. so secularism is a red herring. Perhaps France and Turkey achieve the closest in ideal with their concept of laicitie.

        • McKiernan 9:07 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply


          Are you suggesting that political Islam is “the only democratic alternative ” in those nations that are primarily Muslim in culture ?

          How does a nation achieve democratic multi-cultural diversity, i.e freedom of and from religion, if in fact it doesn’t remove G-D and religion from its nations Constitution ?

          Are you telling us, that say, Saudi Arabia can have a wonderful democracy and at the same time proscribe non-muslims from entering Mecca or Medina ?

          • Maitham 9:11 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            Democracy and multi-culturalism are not synonymous. Historically they have rarely even coexisted.

            • McKiernan 9:20 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink


              What does that mean ?

              Are you telling us, that say, Saudi Arabia can have a wonderful democracy and at the same time proscribe non-muslims from entering Mecca or Medina ?

            • Maitham 9:30 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink

              The US puts its foreigners through hell every time they try to come for a visit. In principle, how is that any different?

              By choosing to discriminate on the basis of religion and not just nationality, Saudi Arabia is certainly out of step with the rest of the modern world, but I don’t think either form of discrimination is inherently incompatible with democracy.

            • McKiernan 9:34 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink

              You can’t be serious.

          • McKiernan 9:32 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            Actually, I was waiting for Aziz to reply.

          • aziz 9:49 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, not a democracy, and is unlikely to ever be a democracy given the oil curse.

            That said, the refusal ofnon-muslims to Mecca has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. I am a free-speech absolutist and a longtime proponent of liberal democracy promotion, but when it comes to this issue, I stand form with the mullahs. No non-muslim may set foot in the Holy City.

            No, not pain of death or anything absurd like that. Plenty of nonmuslims have in fact been to Mecca, been caught, and unceremonioiusly booted out. Even in the modern day Saudi. It happens and if you’re really that motivated, it isnt that hard. But the general prohibition and rule must stand,. forever.

            That’s non-negitiable and has zero to do with democracy. Im happy to be forever excluded from the Vatican inner sanctums or whatever equivalent you folks have.

            to answer your real question, right now political Islam is a alternative, and probably the best alternative in a democratic system, as a form of pushback to the secularist and autocratic recent histories. Whether political Islam becomes dominant or not depends on a case by case basis. Its doubtful it will dominate in Egypt, probable it would dominate in Yemen, and it did flourish in Iran and became autocratic itself.

            • McKiernan 9:56 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink

              My real question was:

              “How does a nation achieve democratic multi-cultural diversity, i.e freedom of and from religion, if in fact it doesn’t remove G-D and religion from its nations Constitution ? “

            • Maitham 10:17 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink

              Not everyone wants multi-culturalism. Islam, because it takes firm positions on certain matters of private conduct, has limited compatibility with this principle.

              As both Aziz and Abu Noor stated earlier, most states that profess the principle are not purely multi-cultural in practice, so this may not be the right point to focus on.

            • aziz 10:19 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink

              I guess I don’t see why the mere mention of God in a constitution is an impediment to multi-cultural tolerance and diversity, or freedom from and of religion.

              Is the word a magic token thta makes people intolerant? We dont have the word God in our Constitution but it hasnt made people more tolerant here. If anything the animus towards musims has only grown since Obama was elected. And will get worse as 2012 approaches.


            • Maitham 9:43 am on March 2, 2011 Permalink

              I think there also may be different definitions of tolerance in different times and places. It is very hard to imagine US-style anything-goes tolerance thriving under the banner of Islam. Islam enforces some hard and fast distinctions between people, and modernist liberalism is corrosive to all such distinctions, so I think there is an unavoidable tension there.

    • Maitham 9:09 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Can we even have this discussion without questioning whether nation-states at all, as they are currently configured in the Middle East, serve the interests of the people or are stable long-term? A certain sense of Egyptian/Moroccan/Iraqi/etc. nationalism has certainly taken root over the past century, but with the need to play ball against world powers one can only imagine that Pan-(insert unifying principle here)-ism has some future in the region.

      I only bring this up because the development of political systems may be affected by the framework within which they evolve.

      As far as Islam and democracy, I don’t see anything inherently undemocratic about Islam. The loosely-defined “tribal” system, which has served as a backdrop for much of Islamic history, tends to be characterized by a high degree of democracy at the lowest levels of organization, even if autocracy rules the higher levels. There is no inherent reason why this pre-existing democratic principle cannot be extrapolated upwards, with the help of modern technology and trends in social organization.

      That said, it is worth noting that a large portion of the early Islamic tradition (at least that I have read) focuses on the need for individuals to set aside their personal preferences and desires and surrender themselves totally to the wishes of the ruler. This is best explained by the fact that tribal chauvinism and political instability was a major problem in the classical Islamic world, just as it was in Europe during the same period. If the problems change, the prescriptions can, too.

      • aziz 9:56 pm on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I’ve written before on that as well – I agree that nation states are a flawed model, but realistically its unlikely we will move away from them in the near or even long term. Maybe a few centuries from now, but not in our lifetimes surely. Lets focus on the possible.

    • bk 11:14 am on March 2, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      An Inconvenient truth for Islamists looking to Erdogan and Turkey:

      “An inconvenient truth for Erdogan’s Islamist admirers, though, is that the secret of the AKP’s success is that it ditched all talk of Sharia and reinvented itself as what Erdogan calls “Muslim Democrats” on the pattern of Europe’s Christian Democrats. As Erdogan and his allies have been tacking toward the mainstream, Islamist regimes in Iran, Sudan, and Afghanistan “failed to deliver on their promises of social justice, equality, rule of law, and freedom from foreign domination,” says Gönül Tol of the Middle East Institute in Washington. As a result, “Islamism has lost its energy, legitimacy, and appeal among the new generation of Arab Muslims.” Arab Islamists need to reinvent themselves for a new, postrevolutionary era—one in which they will be judged by how much security and prosperity they can provide their people. In Eastern Europe, Communists reinvented themselves as socialists. In the same way, Turkish Islamists like Erdogan reinvented themselves as post-ideological conservatives. If Turkey is anything to go by, it’s a formula that works.”


    • aziz 9:10 am on March 3, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      rather timely letters in the New York Times about democracy’s history in the middle east:


    • qbshcjews 9:32 am on January 12, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      QOGtQJ hjxlgykkocem

  • aziz 7:10 am on February 21, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , democracy, ,   

    Juan Cole busts 5 right-winger myths about teh Arab Street protests. My favorite:

    Looking to the Tunisian and Egyptian futures, it is not true, as dreary anti-Muslim Israeli propagandist Barry Rubin alleged, that Muslim fundamentalist parties always win free and fair elections in Muslim-majority countries. This frankly stupid allegation is disproved by the Pakistan elections of 2008, the Albanian elections of 2009, the Kurdistan elections in post-2003 Iraq, and all of the Indonesian elections.

    It’s not just anti-muslim propagandists who assert that when muslims have democracy, they choose Islamism.

    • Dean Esmay 10:44 am on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      No lie. The old song “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right” often comes to mind.

    • Mc Kiernan 6:05 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Myth #3:

      3. Yusuf Qaradawi, the 84-year-old preacher whose roots are in the old Muslim Brotherhood before the latter turned to parliamentary politics, is nevertheless no Ayatollah Khomeini. Qaradawi addressed thousands in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday. Qaradawi called for Muslims to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda alongside US troops in 2001. On Friday he praised the Coptic Christian role in the Egyptian revolution and said that the age of sectarianism is dead. Qaradawi is a reactionary on many issues, but he is not a radical and there is no reason to think that either the Youth or Workers’ Movements that chased Hosni Mubarak out of the country is interested in having Qaradawi tell them what to do.”

      Wait, this just in:

      “Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has issued a fatwa that any Libyan soldier who can shoot dead embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi should do so ‘to rid Libya of him.’

      ‘Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr Gaddafi should do so,’ Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric who is usually based in Qatar, told Al-Jazeera television.

      He also told Libyan soldiers ‘not to obey orders to strike at your own people,’ and urged Libyan ambassadors around the world to dissociate themselves from Gaddafi’s regime.

      Famous in the Middle East for his at times controversial fatwas, or religious edicts, the octogenarian Qaradawi has celebrity status in the Arab world thanks to his religious broadcasts on Al-Jazeera.

      He has in the past defended ‘violence carried out by certain Muslims.’

      The West accuses the cleric of supporting ‘terrorism’ because he sanctioned Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel. Britain and the United States have refused to grant him entry visas.

      The cleric, spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and longtime resident of Qatar, heads the International Union for Muslim Scholars.”


    • abunoor 6:08 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Mc Kiernan,

      I don’t know what your deal is, but are you suggesting that al-Qaradawi’s statement’s on Khaddafy are wrong? Surely, an insane dictator who is ordering the bombing of his own people should indeed be killed.

    • Mc Kiernan 6:36 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      For the moment, I’m suggesting the one of Juan Cole’s myth-buster statements are slightly askew.

      As in # 3.

    • abunoor 7:04 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I don’t see the relationship at all. While I don’t really know exactly what it means to say Qaradawi is “no Khomeini” or that he is “not a radical,” I certainly think any sane intelligent person would agree with what he said re: Khaddafy.

      • Dean Esmay 12:12 pm on February 22, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        He’s “not a Khomenei” in the sense that it’s pretty clear he doesn’t have a large enough fanatical following to simply take over a country and install himself as a dictator and brutally liquidate all opposition, nor does it look like he’d want to do such a thing.

      • Dean Esmay 12:13 pm on February 22, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Oh, and, uh, crazy neocon warmonger loon that I am, I’m very comfortable with pretty much anyone capable of doing so shooting the Libyan dictator on sight.

    • Mc Kiernan 7:39 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply


      Like most sane, intelligent people would say:

      “Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr Gaddafi should do so”.

    • Maitham 8:59 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      McK: Assassinating dictators has always been a favorite American fantasy and was publicly advocated by many American observers of the First Gulf War. I don’t see why Qardawi should be held to a different standard.

    • Mc Kiernan 9:47 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply


      Yes, Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi should be held to a very, very higher standard.

      If he was speaking that justice is at the end of a bullet… so where was this guy for the past 40 years ?

      • Mc Kiernan 2:36 pm on February 22, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I actually thought the subject matter of the post was the five myth-busters of Juan Cole, and not

        who gets on the “lets shoot Gaddafi bandwagon.” I’m finding Cole’s approach quite


        given the history of Sheik al-Qaradawi. To quote…a UK blogger:

        “After a 50-year exile, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has returned to Cairo to preach his particular

        bloody interpretation of Islam to more than a million followers. He is a Muslim Brotherhood

        cleric who advocates the slaughter of Jews, supports wife-beating and female genital

        mutilation, and is positively effusive about the execution of apostates and homosexuals. He is

        also the spiritual adviser for the Palestinian Authority terrorist group, Hamas.

        He has been banned from Egypt since 1961, but found refuge in the UK and was welcomed

        with open arms by Ken Livingstone.

        The Sheikh’s message to his adoring faithful was foreboding: “Don’t fight history,” he exhorted.

        “You can’t delay the day when it starts.”

        And he means a little more by ‘it’ than the revolutionary movement for democracy which has

        toppled the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, and now threatens those of Libya, Yemen,

        Bahrain and Algeria. Indeed, he doesn’t hope for democracy at all, except as a means to

        sharia. For those who have ears, ‘it’ is a hope that the revolutionary spirit is more contiguous

        with the 1979 Shi’a triumph in Iran. “The Arab world has changed,” he proclaimed. This is the

        Sunni moment.

        While al-Qaradawi was a guest in the UK, he founded the European Council for Fatwa and

        Research (ECFR), of which he is still president. Its aim is world conquest and ‘the

        manifestation of Allah’s infinite mercy, knowledge and wisdom’.

        “What remains, then, is to conquer Rome,” he strategized in 1995. “The second part of the

        omen. ‘The city of Hiraq (Constantinople) will be conquered first’, so what remains is to

        conquer Rome. This means that Islam will come back to Europe for the third time, after it was

        expelled from it twice… Conquest through Da’wa (proselytising), that is what we hope for.

        We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through Da’wa.”

        Oh, …I haven’t expressed the opinion that the leader of Libya ought not have a shortened


        IMO, al-Qaradawi’s statement on Gaddafi are opportunistic for the benefit of his agenda, not

        that of genuine democratic reform.

    • Maitham 11:32 am on February 22, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Actually, McK, the US government did attempt to assassinate Qaddafi back in 1986. So by your count, this proves once and for all the the US government is completely crazy, and much crazier than Qardawi, because they actually followed through on their threat with high-explosive bombs.

  • aziz 11:30 am on February 15, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: democracy, ,   

    Was #Egypt a military coup? Yes, and that’s not a bad thing, explains ‘Aqoul.

    The first step to wholy transformative (not always good) regime redirection is usually the security establishment letting it be known that they aren’t willing or able to protect The Leader, while an existing legal body declares extraordinary emergency measures.

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