October 2011: Could the illusion of democracy actually materialize considering the ideology of Islam
: “For Muslims, ideological differences with others are taught not to be the root cause of violence and bloodshed because a human being’s freedom to decide how to lead his or her personal life is an inviolable right found in basic Islamic tenets.”
The Quran and Muslim tradition (Hadith) states among other things:
- “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.” (Hadith vol.9 book 84:57)
- “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Sura 9:5)
- “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah [tax/extortion] willingly while they are humbled.” (Sura 9:29)
- O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people. (Sura 5:51)
Would a Muslim try to revision these passages and say we must re-consider the context. However, whether the context is in the 7th century or not, many/most Muslims still apply these ideologies today.
Islam is not compatible with freedom, at least not ideological freedom where a person is free to even reject Islam. It isn’t honest for the Muslim world to claim it will accept the “will of the people”.
The fall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak supposedly marked a significant change in the Arab/Muslim world. Some media is touting it as freedom and democracy coming to Egypt. A real democracy involves the possibility that the majority will institute programs and agendas counter to Islam.
In 2006 Gaza and the East Bank (in “Palestine”) held what at the time were considered historic elections. In the lead up to the elections, the United States touted the elections as marking freedom coming to Gaza. Even when Israel tried to postpone the elections for fear of more radicals taking over, U.S. president George W. Bush pushed for the elections to go forward.
After the elections, many outside of Palestine considered it a failure since the winning party was Hamas, a group classified as a terrorist organization, even by the U.S.. Immediately after the elections the U.S. and other countries stopped financial assistance to Palestine.
Hamas was founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is often claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind the revolution in Egypt. So, while many in the media want to present the events in Egypt as the Arab world moving forward toward freedom, it may simply be the radicalization of Egypt just as it was in the free elections that took place in Palestine.
The motto of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Islam is the solution”. Considering the motivations and agenda behind the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt could become another Gaza.
An official statement on the Muslim Brotherhood English website states: “Democracy supporters should not fear the Muslim Brotherhood…we seek to share in the debate sweeping the country and to be part of the resolution, which we hope will culminate in a democratic form of government. Egyptians want freedom from tyranny, a democratic process and an all-inclusive dialogue to determine our national goals and our future, free of foreign intervention.”
What if a majority of the Egyptians wanted to relegate religion to a role outside of the government? The Muslim Brotherhood answered this question in the article: “…we are compelled to unequivocally deny any attempt to usurp the will of the people. Nor do we plan to surreptitiously dominate a post-Mubarak government.
The Brotherhood has already decided not to field a candidate for president in any forthcoming elections. We want to set the record straight so that any Middle East policy decisions made in Washington are based on facts and not the shameful and racist agendas of Islamophobes.” Would the Muslim Brotherhood “support” this democracy?
Tunisia - The moderate Islamist party that appears to have won Tunisia’s landmark elections was in talks with rivals about forming an interim coalition government to lead the birthplace of the Arab Spring through its transition to democracy.
Partial results released supported the Ennahda party’s claims that it won at least 40 per cent of the seats in a 217-member assembly tasked with running the country and writing its new constitution. But results so far indicate the Islamists failed to win an outright majority, meaning a coalition must be formed.
Ennahda’s ability to win an election as well as work with other groups will be closely watched in the Arab world, where other Islamist parties are to compete in elections soon. Independent observers have also praised Tunisia for pulling off what they called a free and fair election with few hassles despite months of uncertainty and instability.
Tunisia has a strong secular tradition, and Ennahda officials promised a broad-based coalition.
“We will not exclude any party, independent personality or social movement,” stated Abdel Hamid Jelassi, Ennahda’s campaign manager. “We were once the victims of a politics of exclusion and our goal is to create a government of national unity.”
He stated the party already had a raft of measures set to be implemented next month to “address the urgent needs of the Tunisian people.” Some 18 per cent of Tunisians are unemployed, especially youth, and the economy has been hard hit by a drop in tourism and the civil war in neighbouring Libya.
The newly elected assembly is expected to appoint the interim government, and spend a year writing a constitution before elections are held for a parliament and a permanent government.
The Tunisian electoral commission said the Ennahda party has won 28 out of 64 domestic seats so far. Together with the results announced Monday from Tunisians living abroad, Ennahda now has 37 out of 82 seats total, or just over 45 per cent with a third of results in.
Tunisians overthrew their longtime dictator in January, a move that sparked similar movements in other Arab countries, including successful revolutions in Egypt and Libya. Ennahda, which was long suppressed by Tunisia’s ousted dictator, emerged as the best organized party in the Tunisian election.
Ennahda states it wants sharia, or Islamic law, to be the source of Tunisia’s legislation, but also insists that the country’s progressive personal status code is compatible with its ideals and that it respects all religions and creeds. It also has promised to safeguard women’s rights.
The next most popular party, the Congress for the Republic, has won 10 seats so far and is led by veteran human rights activist Moncef Marzouki, who was one of the few politicians to say from the beginning he could see joining a coalition with Ennahda.
The results of the domestic seats were from more than a million voters from nine of the 27 electoral districts inside Tunisia and included the large cities of Sfax and Sousse. Around 90 per cent of the country’s 4.1 million registered voters flocked to Sunday’s polls, which have been praised by international observers.
“The voting process was marked by peaceful and enthusiastic participation, generally transparent procedures, and a popular confidence about Tunisia’s democratic transition,” said a statement by the Carter Center, which observed the contests.
Part of the vote’s success is attributed to the High Independent Authority for the Elections, which ran the process instead of the Interior Ministry as happens in so many Arab countries.
The commission staffed 8,000 polling stations with 50,000 workers, including around 20,000 unemployed university graduates whose performance was praised. Media campaigns and posters explained the mechanisms of the vote to Tunisians. Voters could use text messaging to find out where to cast ballots.
Results, however, were being released in a trickle. Election officials said the painstaking nature of the counting process has caused the delay.
“The mechanism for tallying requires a lot of effort and time because all the votes in a district are taken to one place and this is for security reasons,” stated Boubaker Bethabet, the secretary general of the election commission.
He added that, in many cases, poll officials sealed the tally sheets inside the ballot boxes after the initial count in the voting stations. The boxes can only be reopened in the presence of representatives of the more than 80 political parties involved in the vote.
Approximately 200 people demonstrated outside the conference hall where results were being announced Tuesday afternoon. The protesters claimed that several of the more successful parties, including Ennahda, had engaged in vote buying or influencing the elections on Sunday.
The election commission and foreign observer delegations have stated they have not seen any evidence of vote buying or serious fraud.
Libya’s transitional leader declared his country’s liberation on Sunday, three days after the hated dictator Moammar Gadhafi was captured and killed. He called on Libyans to show “patience, honesty and tolerance” and eschew hatred as they embark on rebuilding the country at the end of an 8-month civil war.
The transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil set out a vision for the post-Gadhafi future with an Islamist tint, stating that Islamic Sharia law would be the “basic source” of legislation in the country and that existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified.
In a gesture that showed his own piety, he urged Libyans not to express their joy by firing in the air, but rather to chant “Allahu Akbar,” or God is Great. He then stepped aside and knelt to offer a brief prayer of thanks.
“This revolution was looked after by God to achieve victory,” he told the crowd at the declaration ceremony in the eastern city of Benghazi, the birthplace of the uprising against Gadhafi began. He thanked those who fell in the fight against Gadhafi’s forces. “This revolution began peacefully to demand the minimum of legitimate rights, but it was met by excessive violence.”
Abdul-Jalil stated new banks would be set up to follow the Islamic banking system, which bans charging interest. For the time being, he stated interest would be canceled from any personal loans already taken out less than 10,000 Libyan dinars (about $7,500). He also announced that all military personnel and civilians who have taken part in the fight against Gadhafi would be promoted to the rank above their existing one. He said a package of perks would later be announced for all fighters.
“Thank You, thank you to the fighters who achieved victory, both civilians and military,” he stated. He also paid tribute to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-nation alliance led by Saudi Arabia, The Arab League and the European Union. NATO, which aided the anti-Gadhafi fighters with airstrikes, performed its task with “efficiency and professionalism.”
The “Declaration of the founding of the Transitional National Council” states the main aims of the council are as follows:
- Ensure the safety of the national territory and citizens
- Coordination of national efforts to liberate the rest of Libya
- Support the efforts of local councils to work for the restoration of normal civilian life
- Supervision of the Military Council to ensure the achievement of the new doctrine of the Libyan People’s Army in the defence of the people and to protect the borders of Libya.
- Facilitate the election of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution for the country; be put to a popular referendum
- Form a transitional government to pave the holding of free elections
- Guide the conduct of foreign policy, and the regulation of relations with other countries and international and regional organizations, and the representation of the Libyan people
In another statement clarifying the goals for a post-Gaddafi Libya, the council has committed itself an eight-point plan to hold free and fair elections, draft a national constitution, form political and civil institutions, uphold intellectual and political pluralism, and guarantee citizens’ inalienable human rights and the ability of free expression of their aspirations.
The council also emphasized its rejection of racism, intolerance, discrimination, and terrorism. Article 1 further declares Tripoli the state capital and Arabic the official language while reserving the linguistic and cultural rights of ethnic minorities as well as the freedom of religion for religious minorities.
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