Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Islamic History Offers New Reasons to Support Democracy in Egypt, the Middle East

by Heather Ferguson and Ty McCormick

Huffington Post
August 30, 2010

Islamic democracy is a contradiction in terms -- at least that is the implicit message coming from the Obama administration.

In Egypt, where an opposition movement led by Mohamed ElBaradei -- a Nobel laureate and the former head of the International Atomic Agency -- has presented the U.S. with the perfect opportunity to press for political reform, President Obama has so far respectfully declined. Rather than act on the "commitment" professed in his Cairo speech "to governments that reflect the will of the people," Obama has elected to say nothing and quietly redirect democracy promotion funds toward strictly economic projects.

Sadly, this policy reflects a sincere belief on the part of the Obama administration that Islamists cannot be democrats. If free and fair elections are held -- so the thinking goes -- potentially anti-western Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood might come into power, and once there, decide to do away with voting once and for all. As Obama put it in the aforementioned speech, "[T]here are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others."