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Democracy vs Liberty and Islamism

Reader comment on item: Combating the Ideology of Radical Islam

Submitted by Gordon Mullings (United States), Apr 14, 2003 at 07:18

Mr Fuller's remarks seem to require some correction:

1) Islamism can draw on the Quran, the Hadiths and the Sharia rulings of the major schools of Islamic law in justification of its agenda, and it does. Thus, it looks to the teachings and example of the Prophet of Islam, and the record of how these were worked out in law and on the ground as Islam expanded through conquests from Medina to Mecca, then to Iberia in the West and the Indus in the East.

2) Democracy is often a double-edged sword, where majority rule is untempered by principles of liberty and justice -- a point often emphasised by those who distinguish democracy from a republic. Thus, we must avoid the situation where we end up with "One man, one vote -- one time!" (Consider the fate of Iran: who would have won a free and fair election, circa 1980? Would it have made a difference to the tyranny of the past 20 years? For that matter, Hitler rose to power through elections and back-room deals that gave him a minority government.)

I think it should be clear that the project of Moderate Islam, as a reformation that tempers the militant tendencies, is well worth supporting.

Finally, as a Christian, I would particularly be concerned about religious liberty in light of Bat Ye'or's remarks on the civilisation of Dhimmitude. A key test would be to see whether "moderate Islam" -- in say Saudi Arabis, or Afghanistan, or Iraq, or even Egypt -- would be willing to tolerate Christian witness and the conversion of muslims to other faiths. A second would be their attitude to Israel, as a state ruled by "Dhimmis" with a significant muslim population. Willingness to heal the running sore that Lebanon has become would be a third key test.

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