Repeating the mistakes of the past
Reader comment on item: How the West Could Lose
Submitted by Safraz (United States), Dec 26, 2006 at 15:24
The enemy is not the Islamists.
The enemy is the subset of Islamists who are totalitarian, anti-pluralistic, and anti-democratic. There is subtanstial minority of Islamists that are pluralistic democrats (including some in the Iranian opposition), who believe strongly that the Sharia should be interpreted in such a way as to allow for freedom of ideas, freedom of religion, democracy, and pluralism. And these people should be supported, and not lumped together with the totalitarian Islamists.
Chapter 1, Article 3 of the Constitution of Afghanistan (the current constitution mind you) reads:
"In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam."
This is surely an Islamist Constitution, but one that also upholds pluralism, democracy, and freedom of religion. This sort of thing should be praised as an evolution of sharia to the modern world, rather than be condemend. In fact the model for these new Islamic democracies may be Israel - where the state is a religious state, but yet is pluralistic and democratic.
By coloring the current conflict as a war against all Islamists, and not just the totalitarian Islamists, you are repeating one of the tragic mistakes made in fighting the Cold War where socialist democrats were branded communist and either wiped out (to be replaced by cruel dictatorships) or were turned to the Soviet Union and became hardcore Marxist Leninists, thereby creating more enemies.
The hundreds of millions of Islamists in the world can surely be turned to democratic ideals and pluralistic values, if they are exposed to the modes of interpreting the Koran that find democracy and pluralism in the Koran. Sure some of them won't be convinced, but those are the ones we are fighting - not the ones who simply want states that in some official way showcases their culture and history.
This, in the end, is a battle of ideas because as you noted you are dealing with over 1 Billion people and their sacred culture and identity - not simply an ideology.
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".
Reader comments (2100) on this item
Comment on this item
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes