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Democratization in the Muslim World

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The article “Faith in Democracy: Islamization of the Iraqi Polity after Saddam Hussein” by Beverley Milton-Edwards discusses the history of political Islam as a facet of faith-based action within Muslim society. Special attention is paid to the role of Islam in Iraqi policy, islamization and democracy, elements of populist Islam and democratic elections and the promise of the Muslim polity. The central question is what democracy Ira is supposed to embrace if democracy is viewed as the immediate goal for the reconstruction of Iraq after Saddam Hussein law.

Islamist movement in Iraq has failed to seize full the power of the state and, therefore, may Muslim societies find it difficult to come to terms with the radical dimension. In other words, political Islam is dynamic force which is largely perceived as having negative impact on societies in transition period. The author claims that political Islam is “a threat to status quo in authoritarian regimes, occupied societies, secular democratic societies and weak states across the globe”. (p.110)

Democratization in Muslim world is argued to be a major problem of the modern world. Countries, where the majority of Muslim exists, are less likely to become democratic as their beliefs, practices and values fundamentally differ from those of the democratic countries. Middle East views democratic countries as strangers. In democratic societies, the source of all authority is the collective body of the people and all the citizens are sovereign. All these points are in opposition with the Middle East. Much empirical evidence proves that Muslim countries are inhospitable to democracy because they promote authoritarian regimes that oppose democracy and its key values.

Reflection on the Key Points

It is necessary to agree with the author that the problem of democratization in the Muslim countries, especially in Iraq, is a major concern of contemporary world. The question is how to transform society, which is used to be authoritarian, to practice democratic values which are perceived as strange. Muslim societies seem to be hostile and not suites for democracy as their social values, politics and economics fundamentally different from those of the European democratic countries.

Of course, all countries should be provided with opportunity to become democracy, but the problem is that Muslims societies are not willing to become democratic as, for them it means to re-shape their societal ladder, to re-think the role of the women in society, to review their religious attitudes and to restrain religious intolerance. Democracy suggests gender and race equality, religious tolerance and free markets, but they will be hardly accepted by Muslim world.

Populist Islam is facet of the modern political era in the country and it was exploited hardly by Saddam Hussein. Generally populist Islam is viewed as radical Islam, but I agree with the author that Saddam Hussein employed a series of Islam symbols to manipulate the world. One positive shift is that Iraqi elected elites made an effort to develop a constitution and showed that election may be fair in the country. However, such step would be hardly effective on the long road to democracy. Summing up, how can Iraq equipped with weapons of mass destruction, become democratic state?

References

Milton-Edwards, Beverley. (2006).Faith in Democracy: Islamization of the Iraqi Polity after Saddam Hussein. In “Democratization in the Muslim World”, ed. Volpi, Fr. & Cravatorta, Fr. London & New York: Routledge.

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