May 24, 2014

WELL, WE CONSERVATIVES WORK TO MAKE OUR OWN LESS LIBERAL:

More Democratic, Less Liberal (SHADI HAMID, MAY 23, 2014, NY Times)

Americans tend to see liberalism and democracy as going hand in hand. But in the Middle East, democratization, contrary to academic and popular wisdom, is likely to push Islamist parties toward greater illiberalism.

In religiously conservative societies, there is widespread support for more mixing of religion and politics, not less. In Egypt, for example, available polling data makes clear that majorities support Shariah, or Islamic law, as the primary or only source of law; religiously derived criminal punishments; gender inequality; and a role for religious leaders in drafting legislation. If the popular demand is there, someone will need to supply it. Moreover, democracy means that groups like the Brotherhood no longer have a monopoly on the votes of the Islamist faithful. They have to compete with newly established Salafi parties that believe in a strict, literalist Islam, producing a "Tea Party effect" where the center-right is dragged further rightward.

This poses a thorny question for Western observers: Do Arabs have the right to decide -- through the democratic process -- that they would rather not be liberal?
Posted by at May 24, 2014 8:24 AM
  
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