How compatible is Islam with democracy?
If you’ve been paying even a comatose level of attention to the right-wing politico media in the US for the past decade with any level of approbation above incredulity, then you’re answer might likely be, ‘not at all!’
And you’d be wrong.
Religious piety, in the Muslim world, or anywhere else for that matter does not preclude the ability to adhere to the foundational principals of democracy, and oppression of a people happens regardless of the religious beliefs of the people being repressed.
But that’s not really the point I wanted to make here. Obviously by now everyone has heard about what’s going on in Egypt. And if you haven’t, well there’s nothing I can do for you now, but tell you to get out from under your rock.
It would seem that the Egyptian protesters gathered in Tahrir Square have reached an impasse with Mubarak seemingly digging his heels in, potentially willing to force them to accept his only concession: not running for re-election in September, and the people, continuing to protest.
What of course was on many minds, and has made its rounds through the political punditry was the possibility that the protests in Tunisia, which moved on to Egypt, and briefly affected Yemen, Syria and Jordan, against the autocratic regimes across the middle-east might in fact be the beginning of a wave of democratic transition. Part of this analysis had to do with these countries’ increasingly educated, and demographically young populations frustrated at the stagnating levels of poverty and lack of opportunity.
The internet, in all its glory only furthered the ability of this large, amorphous and relatively decentralized group to coordinated themselves, and most importantly their frustration. So, naturally the solution for a strongly militaristic state like Egypt was to do two things:
1. Shut off the internet and,
2. Bring in the security apparatus.
But there’s a problem. In a world where you have large groups of discontent men gather everyday for prayer, you don’t need the internet to tell them to get together and protest. All they needed to do, was finish praying, and get up and go into the streets. Which is exactly what happend! And it will keep happening. Over and over again.
Second, anyone who knows anything about military service, knows that conscripted soldiers are the worst possible soldiers. You can’t exactly tell a soldier who might not want to be there in the first place, to go and ‘repress’ (read ‘open fire’) his fellow countrymen. Especially when almost all of them have had to serve at one point another in that very same institution.
I don’t know where this is going, and something will have to give. Whether it’s now, or later, you can’t oppress a people that meet in large numbers every day, with a security force that won’t fight them, forever.