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Why Democracy Won't Work In Muslim Countries
Former Muslim, Ali Sina writes in "Understanding Islam and the Muslim Mind" why we were ridiculous to think we could turn Iraq into a democracy as long as Islam flourished there. Here's an excerpt from his book, available for purchase at the link:

So, why has real democracy in these countries not worked? The answer can be summarized in one word: ISLAM. Islam is the reason no true and long lasting democracy can be established or has taken root in any Islamic country. Islam is also the reason why these countries have remained poor, underdeveloped and backward.

The reality is that democracy cannot be imposed from above. To construct a democracy, you must first provide the right foundation. The prerequisite of democracy is freedom.

In Islamic countries, people do not have an understanding of freedom. They confuse freedom with anarchy. They fear freedom. Freedom, as defined in the context of democracy, means freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of action, as long as your freedom does not limit the freedom of others. This understanding is as frightening to Muslims as it is alien, because such freedom is not rooted in Islam and cannot be a part of Islamic society.

It is not their own, personal freedom that is frightening to them. Muslims living in non-Muslim nations, know how to take full advantage of their freedom in their host, democratic countries to promote their faith. They often demand even greater freedom, insisting upon freedoms not accorded even to the native, non-Muslim citizens.

What they most fear is the fact that within democracies, those perceived to be their natural opponents - the infidels, or non-Muslims - are likewise free and granted equal opportunity. For Muslims, who seek to establish their dominance over all others through coercion, having instead to compete on a level playing field with people of other beliefs, sets up a challenging and frightening prospect. Allowing equal advantage to those who otherwise exist in natural opposition to Islam, and according them the ability to promote their ideas, or worse, permitting them to influence those Muslims who might be “lured away” to new ways of thinking outside of Islam, is intolerable to Muslim sensitivity. They regard such freedom as a direct threat to Islam.

Muslims cannot tolerate views resistant or in opposition to their own. This became clear to the non-Muslim world with the recent cartoon row that through the encouragement of mullahs, managed to become a full conflagration. Almost overnight, millions of Muslims worldwide rioted in Islamic as well as Western countries. They burned embassies, desecrated and destroyed churches, killed innocent people, all because a Danish newspaper published a few cartoons depicting their prophet Muhammad.

Before any serious attempt to bring democracy to the Islamic countries can begin, we must first lay the foundation of democracy. For Islamic societies to be able to make this transition, they would have to become tolerant and learn to respect people with differing views, while their governments would have to ensure that all freedoms are safeguarded for all citizens, regardless of their faith or gender.

... Islam does not permit Muslims to leave Islam. Similarly, it does not allow people of other faiths to exercise their own religions freely, let alone be allowed to preach them. Islam does not recognize equal human rights for those who are not Muslims, nor does it recognize the equality of women. Islam does not allow freedom of thought or speech. It is for these reasons that democracies in Islamic countries don't work. As long as these countries remain Islamic in nature, there cannot be any true democracy. As long as they remain undemocratic, and in allegiance to Islam, they will stay a danger to themselves as well as to the world.

... The Western world is currently in a dilemma. Whatever options may still remain open, are rapidly dwindling, as time is no longer on our side. With every passing minute, as each new baby is born to a Muslim family in the West, the threat of Islam grows, while the hope for democracy and freedom becomes a fading prospect. With the birth of each new Muslim child in the West, the pace of that threat is increasing, exponentially. This threat is more serious than the threat of terrorism.

It is not just non-Muslims who are trapped. Muslims also have no options. They are prisoners too. They cannot have peace or tolerate others simply because this would be against their faith. They have to fight us, force us to convert, subdue and humiliate us, or kill us, if they want to be believers. We are all hostages of Islam. All these wars, all these pains and sufferings, these senseless killings, are the result of the belief in Islam. Mankind has been taken hostage by the ghost of one man – a narcissist, a sick needy man of the seventh century Arabia who lived to destroy the world to satiate his intense crave for love, recognition and power.

...Asking Muslims to live in peace with others is asking them to betray their faith. Muslims are obliged to wage Jihad. This is their religious duty. As long as Muslims believe in Islam they will have to fight and promote it with violence any time they feel they have the upper hand and can win. The Earth belongs to Allah, they believe, and as his only faithful subjects, they are the rightful owners of it. It is their obligation to reclaim it and establish Allah’s rule.

Though there are many Muslims who are peaceful, Islam itself is not peaceful. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect all Muslims not to follow their religion fully, to believe in it and yet somehow not practice it.

My objective in writing this book is to show that Islam, far from being a religion of peace is a cult of war. That the reason there is no democracy in Islamic countries, and there can never be a lasting one, is because Islam is not compatible with democracy. I hope after reading this book, you too will come to the same conclusion that, as long as Islam is accepted as a religion, the Muslim world will not recover from its misery and the world will not see peace.

The problem is not because Muslims have distorted the original message of Islam, but because they have understood it clearly and have put it into practice.

Posted by aalkon at February 12, 2007 10:19 AM


You reach too far with your "why we were ridiculous to think we could turn Iraq into a democracy as long as Islam flourished there" comment. We're shooting for something that looks like Turkey. It's not a painless or cost-free process.

Posted by: Casca at February 12, 2007 7:28 AM

Don't kid yourself that Turkey is some kind of paradise for non-Muslims. Until recently, they weren't even allowed to own property.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 12, 2007 7:53 AM

Yeah, well until recently, Jews weren't allowed to own property in La Jolla, California either.

Wikipedia lists 16 Muslim democracies. They may not be perfect democracies, but neither is the United States.

Posted by: bob at February 12, 2007 8:38 AM

We're shooting for something that looks like Turkey. It's not a painless or cost-free process.

I guess it's easy to say stuff like that, but I shore wouldn't want to be in Iraq or send anybody there; perhaps instead of an invasion where after a few days Georgie could say mission accomplished, more efforts could have been made in places like Turkey, Dubai, Jordan and Lebanon, which are/were trying to move forward 5 years ago. Probably would have cost less of everything.

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at February 12, 2007 9:12 AM

Here's an interesting essay about tribalism, one of the defining characteristics of the middle east (other than Islam). The author argues that we neglect to recognize the tribal structure of middle eastern societies at our peril, and that it is the tribal stucture of these societies, rather than Islam, that makes it difficult for democracy to take root.

However, the author's expertise in this matter comes from doing research for historical novels, so take with the appropriate grain(s) of salt.

Posted by: justin case at February 12, 2007 9:56 AM

Surely, those La Jolla laws were shot down as unconstitutional. We don't have national laws instilling discrimination on the basis of religious belief.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 12, 2007 12:17 PM


> They may not be perfect democracies,
> but neither is the United States.

Which did you choose for your home?

Posted by: Crid at February 12, 2007 12:58 PM

Heh. Exactly right.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 12, 2007 1:47 PM

Well honestly, I feel pretty bad about it. It kinda sounds like 'love it or leave it', which has the same bass line as 'bus 'em back to Africa'... At least that's how the medley went back in the day.

But lately you've given evidence of understanding that there are gradations of faith, and that some are more troubling than others. This deserves encouragement!

Posted by: Crid at February 12, 2007 5:43 PM

Great piece, well stated. Let's just convert, because we all know we can't do what needs to be done.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
religious DEATH cults

Posted by: USpace at February 12, 2007 9:51 PM

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