The Rise of Muslim-Democracy


Reading my July 21st Post (titled “pretentiously” I have to admit: mini-Manifesto) may suggest that I oppose any religious interference in matters of politics. I wrote that Muslims should be aware of the dangers of conflating religion and politics and that the public should have his say in all matters of public life. The resounding victory of the AK Party or AKP (described as ‘rooted in political Islam’) in turkey yesterday, may sound as a rebuff to the claims from secularists (like me) who want a clear separation between the state and religion; but it is not. I’m delighted by this victory. Secularism, as far as I understand it, is a political system that rejects religious diktat at the level of the institutions; in other words, it rejects Theocracy.

I don’t see any reason why a party, be it rooted in Islam or Christianity or any other system of thought, should be banned from the political game (as some “fundamentalist” secularists -especially here in France- advocate) as long as it abides by the rules of democracy, and as it doesn’t call for violence or hatred against its political opponents.

The AKP has shown during his five years in power, that a Muslim-Democracy type of governance was possible, and successfully so. The government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the popular AK party leader, proved to be economy friendly, pro-European and surprisingly even more progressive than other self proclaimed secularist parties. Despite a campaign of fear mongering fueled by the Turkish establishment and some Western media urging people not to allow a party that they claim had an “Islamist hidden agenda” and which could undermine Turkey’s secularist tradition, the voters decided otherwise and gave almost half of the seats of Parliament to the AKP. This victory, as I see it, is an important milestone, and a great achievement for democracy even beyond Turkey’s borders.

In Morocco, at the Western edge of the Muslim World, will be held in next September, the legislative elections that would probably give the PJD (a party rooted in political Islam) a widely expected victory. If the Makhzen (the Moroccan establishment close to the monarch) doesn’t intervene to rig the elections as it traditionally did, Morocco could become the first Arab country governed by Muslim-Democrats. (PJD for Party of Justice and Development- peculiarly the exact title as the Turkish AKP.)

I wouldn’t describe my self as a conservative nor as adherent to ideas advocated by Muslim-Democratic parties, but I welcome any inclusive political system that allows as many ideas and groups as possible within the framework of democracy and power sharing.

(picture by “Brockodil“)

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