>Can Islam and Democracy co-exist? Or, in other words, is a democracy the best form of government for Iraq, or for any other nation in the region, for that matter? Iraq is not the only example of U.S. regime change within the region, only the latest.
To answer this question, I wanted to find evidence that Islam and Democracy were co-existing currently within our global neighborhood. I turned to the CIA World Factbook, the source of all things true.
Indonesia> Most muslims do not live in the Muslim World, in the Arab World, or in the Middle East. They live, among other places, in Indonesia. Over 200 million Muslims live in Indonesia, along side Christians, Buddhists, and Hindis. Indonesia is a republic, not a dictatorship or monarchy, but a representative-style governmental system.
Pakistan> Technically, Pakistan is also a republic. However, Pervez Musharraf in an army general who took over the government. Benazir Bhutto was once Prime Minister of Pakistan, the first woman president of Pakistan, the first woman president of a Muslim nation, and also democratically-elected. She was removed from office for corruption, further evidence that a democracy works. Pakistan is 97% Muslim, or about 159 million Muslims.
India> India? Yes, India is the 3rd most populous Muslim nation, having about 143 million Muslims. The former president of India was Muslim. The new incoming president of India, Pratibha Patil, is a 72-year old woman. India is also the largest democratic nation on the planet.
Egypt> Egypt, technically, is a republic. Egypt has elections (once in a while), and has a representative-style government. Egypt is also home to 80 million Muslims, coming in a #4. Also, living in Egypt are about 8 Million or so Christians, both Coptic and otherwise.
Turkey> Turkey is a republic, and has recently experience national elections, where the former president Erdogan was elected once again. The military got a little excited over his election as Erdogan leans toward mainstream Islam, and the military, forged from Ataturk’s legacy, is very wary of people too expressive of Islam. Turkey is almost 99.8% Muslim, or 7o million Muslims.
Iran> Iran is a theocratic republic. Now, this is interesting. The Council of Ministers elects the president (Mahmoud Amadi-Nejad), and the Council of Experts elects the Supreme Leader, Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI. The Council of Experts is a popularly-elected body of 86 religious scholars. So, Iran is a democracy of sorts, although it is run by religious tenets rather than secular laws. Iran is about 98% Muslim (64 Million Muslims).
Saudi Arabia> We have to traverse seven other nations before we reach the nation that supplied most of the 9/11 hijackers. SA is home to about 27 million Muslims. SA is NOT a democracy; SA is a monarchy and there is little chance that will change anytime soon.
At this point, I have an arguement to make.
I would argue that monarchys encourage radical Islam. I base this argument on two ideas. One, there is no “buy-in” of the local population, that is, they have no representation, they have no stake in the affairs of their government. They do not get to decide where money gets spent, how it gets spent, or even if it gets spent. Secondly, monarchys control the wealth and foist policies onto populations that may be unpopular or unfair. The majority of the populations see the monarchy get richer, build new homes, drive expensive cars, while they toil and work. The hope to change the system, to elect a new leader, to vote or decide on policies does not exist. Thusly, an environment of hopelessness ensues that provides a breeding ground for discontent. Enter: Radical Islam to stir the nest.
Our government is preparing to sell $30 billion dollars worth of military equipment to a monarchy whose people have no vested interest in their government.
The question is not whether or not Islam and Democracy can co-exist.
The question is how can we increase economic opportunities for primarily Muslim nations, and encourage populations to become more active in their governments.