Can democracy exist in Islamic societies? This was the topic of conversation between Bahraini bloggers today.
Bahraini artist Al Shaikh raised the issue when he tweeted [ar]:
في المجتمعات الاسلامية من الصعوبةالفصل بين ماهو سياسي وديني ولذا لن تنجح الديمقراطيةحتى لو كتبنا افضل الدساتير وقبلنا بالتناوب السلمي للسلطة
@Anas_Al_Shaikh: It is difficult to separate between what is political and what is religious in Islamic societies and this is why democracy will never succeed even if we write the best constitutions and accept the peaceful rotation of power
Fearless Ba7rainia replies:
الديمقراطيةهي الحل و العلاج لمثل هذه المشاكل إذا تطورت القوانين سيتطور الناس بشكل طبيعي الدولة المدنية هي الخلاص لهذا الشعب
@fearlessbahrain: Democracy is the solution and the remedy for such problems. If laws are developed, people will improve too in a natural way. A civil society is our people's savior
Bahraini journalist Abbas Busafwan has another take. He responds to Al Shaikh's original tweet saying:
والله هالاستنتاج مؤلم، لكنه قد يكون تعميميا، ربما نجحت تجربة تركيا
@abbasbusafwan: This conclusion is really painful. It could be a generalisation. Perhaps Turkey's example is a success
Al Shaikh answers:
تركيا لم توازن بين الشأن السياسي والديني والدليل ان هناك حقوق للشواذ وانا شفتهم بنفسي يتظاهرون في شارع “تقسيم” الشهير هههه
@Anas_Al_Shaikh: Turkey did not balance between religious and political issues. For instance, Turkey has rights for gays, and I saw them myself protesting on the famous Taksim street
And Ahmed Al-haddad adds:
تـركيا ليست في عهد اليوم بل في زمان أتاترك // وتركيا اليوم وأردوغان الشهير أعادوها لما قبل أتتارك
@DiabloHaddad: Turkey isn't today what it was during the rule of Ataturk. The famous Erdogan took Turkey to the pre-Ataturk era
In reply, Busafwan jokes:
اعتقد ان السعودية احسن نموذج للديمقراطية والشورى وحقوق الانسان والاعلام المقتوح والتوازن بين السياسي والديني!
@abbasbusafwan: I think that Saudi Arabia is the best example of democracy, Shura, Human rights, free Press, and balancing between religion and politics
Abu Yousif agrees that politics and religion don't mix:
انا معك،يجب ان لا نخلط الدين والسياسة فهم لا يتفقان،فنصبح نظام قمعراطي مثل ايران،
@xronos2: I agree. We shouldn't mix religion with politics for they don't agree and then we would become a repressive regime like Iran
And Abu Karim says we should improve what we already have instead of importing a Western-style democracy:
مشكلتنا اننا نريد تطبيق النظريات الغربية على مجتمعاتنا بدل البحث عن ما يوجد لدينا وتحديثه
@AbuKarim1: Our problem is that we want to implement Western theories on our societies instead of searching in what we have and modernising it
Being American, maybe I shouldn’t get involved in this discussion for fear of sounding patronizing.
However, it might be worth pointing out that it’s not very long ago that the Catholic Church had more control over Europeans than any king or secular government. The path from Inquisitions to today included the Protestant Reformation and a few civil wars. Finding the balance won’t happen overnight (and many people still disagree), because the people in power want to stay there. But I don’t think that makes democracy incompatible with any society and I don’t think there’s anything “western” about the people being more important than the government.
The Muslim world, I actually think, has two advantages over the west. First, they can fight with hindsight and hopefully avoid transitioning through bloody civil wars (or avoid transitioning at all, if the people prefer). Second, the Internet makes it easier to expose abuse and coordinate activity.