16 Ekim 2010 Cumartesi

Fareed Zakaria's "Islam, Democracy, and Constitutional Liberalism"

Fareed Zakaria, a well known Indian origined American writer, who is the editor of International Newsweek magazine and columnist in the Washington Post journal, talks about the problems of Middle Eastern countries in his article "Islam, Democracy, and Constitutional Liberalism". Zakaria starts with explaining the dilemma of autocratic states versus illiberal societies in Middle Eastern countries. In his idea, all of the states in the Middle East have to be autocratic because if free elections are hold in these countries, the regimes that would replace autocratic or monarchical systems would be more fundamentalist and oppressive. He supports his idea by giving examples like the king Abdullah of Jordan and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Zakaria claims that religious extremist groups like Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda find huge support from Arab people and free elections would turn into a disaster. The writer goes forward by stating some of Bin Laden's ideas. In Bin Laden's view, Middle Eastern countries are insufficiently Muslim and democracy is a Western invention which does not comply with Islam. He wants to create regimes ruled by Sharia and takes ex-Taliban regime in Afghanistan as a model. Zakaria moves forward by making quotations from some scholars who assert that Islam is the reason and the source of backwardness in these countries. According to Zakaria, the problem in Middle Eastern countries is not about the backwardness of Islam but rather the absence of authority in Islam. Muslims do not have a Pope and in a religion without an official clergy even Bin Laden can issue fatwas. Zakaria also says that the backwardness of Middle Eastern countries is not the problem of Islam because there are many other countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh having millions of Muslim population but make quick steps towards modernity. In Zakaria's view, the problem lies in the Middle Eastern countries and in the Arab mind.

Zakaria first mentions that of the 22 members of the Arab League there is not a single electoral democracy. Arab people hail their new leaders like saviors every time but soon all of these leaders become dictators and problems go along. The story of Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt is important to understand the Arab mind in Zakaria’s opinion. Nasser became the leader of Egypt in the 1950's as a modern politician with socialist appeals talking about the unity of Arabs (Pan Arabism). Nasser was successful in acquiring power of his people but his secular tendencies made him the target of many Islamic extremist groups. His failures against Israel decreased his power and Pan Arabic dream ended. Zakaria further mentions that the source of problem in the Middle East is not related to economic difficulties or education. He states that the leaders and even the militants of Al-Qaeda are well educated people coming from rich families. In Zakaria's idea the problem is not poverty but rather excessive wealth in these countries. A family like Bin Laden’s can establish an army for itself and there are many groups, people supporting Islamic extremism and terrorist groups. Zakaria says that it is easy for these countries to import Western goods but not the Western democracy. Moreover, he states that Iranian Revolution and memories of glorious Nasser years created a Western enmity called Westoxification. Zakaria finishes his article by giving his prescription to solve problems. He believes that the most important thing to be realized in these countries is constitutionalism. After creating an electoral system, all problems could be solved in his idea.

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