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Islamic countries should stop calling themselves Islamic

Reader comment on item: Why Egypt Will Not Soon Become Democratic

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Jan 20, 2017 at 00:40

Dear Dr Pipes,

The nations that identify themselves inseparably with a specific religion must be considered inferior in the community of nations.

In your essay "Why Egypt Will Not Soon Become Democratic" you very correctly say that "democracy is more than holding elections and it requires the development of civil society, meaning such complex and counterintuitive institutions as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, multiple political parties, minority rights, voluntary associations, freedom of expression, movement, and assembly."

Then, how would we know that Egypt or any other Islamic country is a democracy? Or, for that matter, how would we know that any other, so called, democratic country is indeed democratic? Social attitudes take very long periods to change. The foundation of what we see in America today was laid several centuries ago in Europe. So it may be a very long time if we wait for the Islamic countries to develop different attitudes required for democracy and even then we may not be sure that these countries are democratic enough.

There is a simpler solution. We can almost guarantee that a country is not a democracy if it says that it is not a democracy. It is safe to conclude that any country that has the word 'Islamic' in its constitutional name is not a democracy.

Consider the case of Bangladesh. Since it independence in 1971, it has played Russian roulette with being a secular country or not. Some times Bangladesh adds 'Islamic' to its name and other times it drops that from its name. Even when it becomes a constitutionally a secular country it keeps Islam as the state religion. It is said that functionally it is an Islamic country.

Though I will not call Bangladesh a modern secular nation, I will still admire Bangladesh as a country that probably has a small faction of population that appreciates the value of human rights and democracy.

The rest of the world must demand that Islamic nations drop the world Islamic from their constitutional names. It will not change the public attitudes overnight but it will remove the legal basis for Muslim citizens to expect special rights to them and deny those rights to others. In the community of nations, a nations that constitutionally identifies itself with a religion can rightly be called an inferior nation.

If this principle is applied to Israel where will it leave Israel? I am not sure if Israel is constitutionally a Jewish nation. But I think that it is irrelevant. All religions are parts of our common human heritage. If small religious entities are created in small regions of the world so connection of those regions with certain religions is recognized, that will be an admirable ting to do. So a small Islamic nation in Mecca, a small Sikh nation in Amritsar, and a small Christian nation in Vatican will indeed be welcome. On the contrary, an Israel will be objectionable if it gets 100 times bigger than what it is.

I will repeat that the nations that identify themselves inseparably with any religion must be considered inferior in the community of nations.


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