‘Don’t worry about the Muslim Brotherhood’, President Obama is reported as saying, ‘they don’t have majority support.’
Maybe not, but they do have majority support for the majority of things they believe in – an islamist state, sharia law, beheading people who leave islam, stoning adulters, war with Israel, etc.
And they are the only well organised opposition, the only opposition likely to be able to field and fund a large number of candidates.
I heartily agree with the implied answers to President George Bush’s rhetorical questions about freedom and democracy in the Middle East.
People in Islamic countries should be able to choose those who govern them, should have economic freedom, freedom of movement and religion.
They should. But it is counter-factual to write off as ‘cultural condescension’ a suggestion that a commitment to Islam may be very difficult to combine with a commitment to democracy.
Democratic government does not instantly result in everyone’s suddenly deciding to abandon old enmities, to foreswear the use of violence in the resolution of political debate, and to work together for the good of all.
In 2003 Robert Congleton set out some Economic and Cultural Prerequisites for Democracy.
Perhaps the key pre-requisite for effective democratic government is a commitment by every citizen, or at least, an overwhelming majority of them, to the rule of law.
This means being willing to accept a government you don’t like and didn’t vote for, which takes your money to do things you don’t believe in.
Every Muslim is required to work for the implementation of sharia law. Sharia means, amongst other things:
No freedom of religion
No equal rights for women
No freedom of speech
No freedom of thought
No freedom of artistic expression
No freedom of the press
Justice does not apply equally to all – there are different rules for Muslim males and for women and non-Muslims.
Gays and lesbians subject to the death penalty
Girls as young as nine can be married and divorced
In theory, democracy is incompatible with sharia. A democratic government means equal weight is given to the opinions of muslims and non muslims. And a democratic government could introduce laws contrary to sharia.
By all means let’s work for democracy in Islamic countries. But let’s not be naive. To a large number of muslim leaders in those countries, such efforts are another example of the imposition of corrupt Western values on islamic people.
It won’t be easy. And we shouldn’t expect any thanks.