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Democracy, Islam, and the way out, if there is one....

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?

Submitted by Denis MacEoin (United Kingdom), Apr 17, 2008 at 14:12

I do agree with this, and wish the problem were more widely understood. There are, however, one or two things that need closer attention. In writing 'Why should Islam's transition be smoother or easier [than that of Christianity]?' I think you miss the issue of parallel chronology (if that's an accurate way of putting it).

We took centuries to get where we were, mainly because we were making it up as we went along. Creating modern democracies was something new, and the stages to get there had to be pondered on, fought over, argued about. Islam was outside this until the 19th century. But many Muslim countries now have complete access to modern technology, ideas, and norms. They have a set of ready-made models to emulate, they are free to attend Western universities to learn about politics, and so on. Yet they still choose not to.

It's the 16-24-year-olds (here in the UK anyway) who are kicking hardest against democratic values. The problem lies, I think, in the absolute nature of Islam (one uncompromising God, a book that can't be tampered with in any way, Traditions that can be challenged, but seldom are, and, as you note, shari'a law that always tends towards conservatism and, quite often, extremism. Countries like Turkey, Iran, and Egypt had made great strides towards a more liberal society, especially for women.

Now, women are back in veils in all three countries, shari'a law is more widely enforced, and democracy is threatened or non-existent. Here in the UK, the next generation of imams is being trained in radical seminaries like the Darul Ulooms in Bury and elsewhere. In another generation, it will be hard to find moderates. But the government acquiesces in this, thinking these people are all 'moderates'.

There's little hope of change in the foreseeable future, but in the meantime, Western democracies find themselves undermined by politically correct interpretations of Muslim separatism or demands for changes in our laws to accommodate the shari'a.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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