Guide Islam and Democracy

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Contents:
  1. NPR Choice page
  2. Islam and Democracy in Tunisia
  3. Redefining promises of the Arab Spring
  4. From Political Islam to Muslim Democracy
  5. Most Read Articles

Stepan and his wife Nancy were very hospitable to my wife Zeynep, our two-year old, and me. I had the privilege of working with Stepan for a period of an intellectually dynamic and inspirational eighteen months. The result was three edited volumes — one was on Turkey co-edited by Stepan and I , another on Indonesia co-edited by Stepan and Kunkler , and the third one on Senegal edited by Mamadou Diouf. Particularly in his writings on Senegal, Stepan stressed how Islamic actors could promote liberal agendas, such as fighting against female genital mutilation and HIV.

When Arab uprisings began, Stepan was theoretically ready and personally willing to make substantial contributions to democratization efforts. In his Project Syndicate column, he and Linz warned about the perils of presidentialism in post-revolution Egypt. Stepan particularly commended Tunisia as an emerging Arab democracy.

I met him in April in Tunis at a conference on Islam and democracy. He was constantly bridging democratic theory and empirical observations from the Tunisian case; he was optimistic but also aware of challenges. When a closure case was opened in Turkish Constitutional Court against the AKP, Stepan wrote an essay in Project Syndicate to criticize this anti-democratic judicial attempt.

Again, in , we organized an international conference on Turkish democracy, which resulted in our edited book. Of course they were right. Last time I met Stepan was June , in a conference in Florence. He was disappointed to see the breakdown of democracy in Turkey, but still tried to remain hopeful. Stepan and I kept in touch via emails and discussed writing a co-authored article on Turkey.

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NPR Choice page

I became more prone to holding Islamic ideas and actors responsible for the breakdown of Turkish democracy. Indeed, the blame falls squarely on Morsi's shoulders; he subordinated politics to religion and succumbed to the conservative and religious branch of Islamists who view political Islam as the answer to centuries of deprivation and of injustice.

He worked tirelessly to consolidate his powers while doing next to nothing to save the economy from pending collapse. He placed himself above judicial review and largely appointed fellow Brothers into key posts while allowing Brotherhood hooligans to beat up liberal opponents. If this was not enough, he undermined the core of freedom of speech by intimidating the media and failing to build democratic institutions.

Islam and Democracy in Tunisia

Moreover, he pushed for a new constitution fully reliant on Sharia law, expanded blasphemy prosecutions, and supported discrimination against women. To be sure, Morsi surrendered to Islamic siege mentality and authoritarianism in a time when the nation was demanding inclusiveness and political freedom, which was the essence of the revolution against his predecessor in the first place.

Yes, political Islam and democracy can work, but not by pushing for early elections. A transitional government, led by a respected leader who is not shackled by a strong ideology and who can cultivate consensus and has wide public appeal, must take at least two years to allow secular and Islamic parties to develop their political platforms and make the public fully aware of their socio-economic policy and other urgent issues facing their nation. In the interim, a new constitution should be written based on freedom, democracy and equality with separation of church and state constitutionally enshrined.

Redefining promises of the Arab Spring

Any new constitution written in Egypt that does not clearly separate church and state will be doomed to fail, potentially ushering in yet another revolution. Brighter days will yet come to Egypt as long as Tahrir Square remains true to its name, "Liberation Square.

Those who seek to lead will do well to remember that. This point will be expanded in a following article, which will model a separation of church and state in Egypt that still provides a prominent role for religion in daily life. US Edition U.


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From Political Islam to Muslim Democracy

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Islam and democracy: What's the problem? - UpFront

About this book Exploring the woefully neglected reality of Islam as a major cultural and relgious facet of American and European politics and societies, Cesari examines how Muslims in the West are challenging the notion of an inevitable clash or confrontation. Show all.