by Martin Kramer
|In principle, no contradiction. Practice is something different. |
| | | | | | | | | | |Islam vs. Democracy | | | |Commentary | | | |[pic] | | | |In the summer of 1881, the English poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt wrote a series of essays subsequently published under the title, The | |Future of Islam. Blunt was a high-born patron of the downtrodden, a policy intellectual of sorts who enlivened the drawing rooms | |of Victorian ministers and viceroys. He had also fallen under the spell of the forerunners of modern Islamic fundamentalism. In | |his book, Blunt argued that these thinkers had carried Islam to the brink of a great religious reformation. Under their | |inspiration, he wrote, | |I committed myself without reserve to the Cause of Islam as essentially the "Cause of Good" over an immense portion of the world, | |and to be encouraged, not repressed, by all who cared for the welfare of mankind. | |It fell upon England, as the world's greatest power, to "take Islam by the hand and encourage her boldly in the path of virtue." | | | |More than a century later, a frantic quest for the "Cause of Good" in the Middle East and North Africa has again seized the West. | |In an era of democratization, these lands of Islam remain an anomaly — a zone of resistance to the ideals that have toppled | |authoritarian regimes of the Left and the Right. For several years now, political scientists and area experts, borne along by a | |tidal wave of research grants and federally-funded initiatives, have scanned the horizons of Islam for signs of democracy. In a | |plethora of academic papers and conferences, they have speculated on the reasons for the absence of democratic movements, and | |suggested what should be done to encourage their emergence. Suddenly, many of them reached a stunning conclusion: these movements | |have already appeared, in the guise of Islamic fundamentalism. | | | |It has been a time...