Essay on Islam and Democracy: Mutually Exclusive?

3517 Words15 Pages
The September 11th terrorist attacks unleashed unimaginable devastation upon the United States and subsequently upon the Arab-Islamic world. While the government of the United States scrambled jets and prepared soldiers for war, there was another battle, arguably more important than the war the United States was preparing to wage. This battle was waged not on battlefields but in classrooms, between scholars who struggled to define and rectify the democratic deficit in the Muslim world. Theories have been offered ranging from Islam and democracy being diametrically opposed, all the way to Islam considering democracy, or democratic principles, as essential. Lurking in the midst of these two extreme theories are the more moderate and…show more content…
After WWI, Great Britain and France dissected the Ottoman Empire and arbitrarily authored new national boundaries. In 1953, the British and the United States, in a concerted effort, overthrew the democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddeq because he sought to nationalize Iranian oil; a direct threat to American and British interests. In March of 2003 the United States contravened the wishes of the international community by invading the sovereign Arab state of Iraq. Thousands of American troops remain there as an occupying force. These actions by Western democratic powers marginalized the communities in which they intervened and engendered those same societies with a false view of democracy which remains prevalent today.
Furthermore, the West in general and the United States in particular, has been accused of, and rightly so, holding the Arab-Islamic world to a double standard. Historically and contemporarily the United States has supported repressive regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia, Iran under the Shah, and Pakistan under Zia ul-Haq, when doing so was in its political and military interests. Support of these repressive regimes was tendered while simultaneously speaking of freedom and “supporting” the democratization of the Muslim world. As a result, it is likely that cited incompatibilities are not between Islam and democracy per se, but rather between Islam and attempts at compelled democratization by
Get Access