November 29, 2007

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November 29, 2007

CSID Publicatons:
1. Democracy Watch (in Arabic) Vol. 2 Issue No. 6

2. A Dialogue with HE Abdul Salam Azimi, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan (Nov. 29)
3. ISNA – Uniting to Protect (Nov. 30)
4. Iraq After the Surge: The Perspective of H.E. Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim (Dec. 3)
5. Pakistan: At the Brink (Dec. 4)

6. The Arab World Must Adapt to Placate A Young Population (by Marcus Noland and Howard Pack)
7. Hereditary Succession in Egypt (by Jürgen Stryjak)
8. Divisions in the Muslim Brotherhood (by David Wroe)
9. Jordan’s Disproportionate democracy (by Oula Farawati)
10. Jordan Islamists claim poll fraud (BBC)
11. Jordan Vote Reflects Islamic Parties’ Slide (by Ellen Knickmeyer)
12. Critical writer jailed in Tunisia (CPJ)
13. Pakistan: a new Sharif in town (by Shahan Mufti)
14. Pakistan’s Sharif Files for Elections (by Pamela Constable)
15. Where We Went Wrong In Pakistan (by Michael Gerson)
16. How to Win a War (by Lee Blum)
17. Political Islam and US foreign policy (by John L. Esposito)
18. TURKEY – The rise of a regional hegemon (by Suat Kiniklioglu)
19. TURKEY – Democracy as a platform for effective education and lasting peace (by Yunus ‚àö√°engel)
20. Learning from Ankara (by Lale Akgün)
21. Indonesia’s blend of democracy and Islam wins award (by Mark Forbes)
22. Fake Prada fuels Senegal’s Muslim brotherhood (by Nick Tattersall)
23. A Muslim belongs in the Cabinet (by Mansoor Ijaz)
24. Islamic Academy in Virginia on Defensive (by Matthew Barakat)
25. Vatican to accept Muslim dialogue call soon (clerical whispers)
26. A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’ (Yale)

27. Fund for American Studies IIPES Program Scholarships
28. CSID: Office Space Available for Sublease (Washington DC)


Democracy Watch
A monthly bulletin published by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy Vol. 2, Issue No.6 November, 2007

In this issue:

• Editorial: Tunis: For a serious transformation
• Tunisia: Secularists and Islamists: Together for the Freedom of Belief
• Palestine: The PLO struggle for hegemony and the absence of Democracy
• Hamas after Gaza… Which direction?
‚Äö√Ѭ¢ Syria: “Damascus Spring” a new book by Radwan Ziada
• Syria: Will there be a political reform after the economic reform?
• Morocco: The New Government of Abbas Al Fasi
• Mauritania: The President Majority Party or the Party of the Authority
• Saudi Arabia: More Legislations for reform
• The UAE: Investment in Knowledge
• Yemen: The Journalists Protest
• Egypt: The Government Refuses Opening an Office for The Human Rights commission
• Algeria: The Current Situation of the Islamists
• Algeria: An Open Letter to President Bouteflika

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The Afghanistan Working Group of the U.S. Institute of Peace cordially invites you to a public event on:

A Dialogue with HE Abdul Salam Azimi, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan

Date: Thursday, November 29, 2007
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: U.S. Institute of Peace 2nd Floor Conference Room 1200 17th St, NW Washington, DC 20036
Rebuilding Afghanistan’s justice system and establishing the rule of law are critical components of the stabilization process in Afghanistan. Some progress has been made following the adoption of a new constitution in 2004 and the appointment of capable reformers to head the Ministry of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, and the Supreme Court, but enormous obstacles remain. Human resources and the physical infrastructure of the system have been devastated, corruption is endemic, political violence continues to target government officials, and a political culture that adheres to the rule of law is fundamentally absent.

H.E. Abdul Salam Azimi is Afghanistan’s first-ever Supreme Court Chief Justice appointed by an elected President and approved by the legislature. Under his leadership, the Supreme Court and the judicial system have begun nationwide reforms. His court has also heard and ruled on several important constitutional issues, which are helping to shape the future of law and politics in Afghanistan. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Azimi served as Deputy Chairman of Afghanistan’s Constitutional Commission, and was one of its primary drafters. A scholar of law and sharia, Justice Azimi served previously as Rector of Kabul University, and Director of the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Justice. Justice Azimi has lived, studied, and worked in Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait, and the United States.
The United States Institute of Peace invites you to a discussion of these critical issues surrounding the challenges and prospects of bringing justice and the rule of law to Afghanistan on the occasion of the visit of Chief Justice Azimi.

HE Abdul Salam Azimi Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan
J Alexander Thier, Moderator U.S. Institute of Peace

To RSVP, please send your name, affiliation, daytime phone number, and name of the event to Madalina Cristoloveanu

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Uniting to Protect

The Islamic Society of North America invites you to the National Press Club’s Speakers Luncheon to honor ISNA’s invaluable services to American civil society. The nation’s most important media event is being used to launch “Uniting to Protect” an unprecedented partnership of Christian, Muslim and Jewish Americans uniting against terrorism. The Fiqh Council of North America’s Fatwa Against Terrorism will be officially announced along with an interfaith Thanksgiving Proclamation pledging to work together to make America safe.

In addition to the press conference, ISNA invites you to a reception hosted by the ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances (IOICA), in Washington, DC. The general program will be held on November 30th and is as follows:

11:30 Friday Prayer Service The National Press Club, Lisagor Room
12:00 “Uniting to Protect” Luncheon The National Press Club, Main Ballroom
529 14th Street, Washington, DC 20045
4:00 IOICA Office Reception The Methodist Building
100 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC

Please RSVP to Amanda Mouttaki in the IOICA office: or call 202-544-5656 by Tuesday November 27th.

Dr. Muneer Fareed
Secretary General

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The U.S. Institute of Peace cordially invites you to a public event:

Iraq After the Surge: The Perspective of H.E. Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim

Date: Monday, December 3, 2007
Time: 4:00 PM- 5:30 PM

Location: U.S. Institute of Peace 2nd Floor Conference Room 1200 17th St, NW Washington, DC 20036
With the apparent success of the surge, Iraq is at a crossroads. Will it take those steps necessary to build on the security improvement and develop political stability? Or will it falter and lose this opportunity? Many issues confront the Iraqi people. Progress toward national reconciliation at both the central and local levels; the effect of the “Sunni Awakening” on Iraq’s political stability; Iran’s influence and growing Shia resistance toward Tehran; and the inability of the parliament to pass election laws are only some of the hurdles facing Iraq. Please join us as H.E. Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim addresses these and other issues.

HE Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim
President of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the Leader of the United Iraqi Alliance

Daniel Serwer, Moderator Vice President, Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations, U.S. Institute of Peace

To RSVP, please send your name, affiliation, daytime phone number, and name of the event to Duke Lindsey

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The World Affairs Council of Washington DC cordially invites its Members and Distinguished Guests to a discussion and luncheon.

Pakistan: At the Brink

With Ahmed Rashid
Award Winning Author of Taliban

Please join us at the National Press Club as Ahmed Rashid, journalist and writer on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia reports on Pakistans deepening political crisis and implications for US policy in the region.

Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistani journalist based in Lahore. He is author of three books including Taliban and most recently Jihad. He has covered Afghanistans changing fortunes since the 1978 Soviet invasion, the rise of Osama bin Laden, and the destabilization of the entire strategic area. He writes for the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Daily Telegraph, and The Wall Street Journal. Rashid has been awarded the Nisar Osmani Award for Courage in Journalism, British-Kuwait Society for Middle Eastern Studies book prize in 2001, The Media Personality of the Year, and The Daniel Pearl Award (OMFA), which gives cash grants to newly starting print media in Afghanistan. So far it has distributed over $300,000 to newspaper and magazine entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, December 4th 2007
12:00 PM 1:30 PM
National Press Club
529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20045
Members: $20 Non-Members: $25
Light lunch will be provided

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Globalization With Arab Characteristics

The Arab World Must Adapt to Placate A Young Population
The Arab world needs jobs for its young adults, but foreign employers are afraid to commit in nations with authoritarian regimes, where regulation and the legal landscape remain shrouded in uncertainty.

By Marcus Noland and Howard Pack

Job creation is not only a political and demographic imperative for the Arab world, but also a security concern for the globe.

The Middle East has the world’s lowest rate of labor-force participation among working-age adults. That rate has converged on the global norm, spurred by females entering the workforce.

Despite strong growth, the region treads water in terms of employment. Job creation keeps pace with rising labor-force participation, but hasn’t dented the region’s high unemployment rates, especially among the young.

With a few exceptions, employment grown in industries where productivity is increasing – that is, it does not appear to reflect an expansion of activity in rising dynamic sectors such as information technology-related services.

Stiff competition from China and India

In some Arab states – and not merely the oil exporters of the Persian Gulf – foreigners and not locals account for most new hires. This phenomenon is more acute in the private sector, since nationals disproportionately enter public-sector employment.

One method of rapidly creating a sustainable increase in employment is through an expansion of labor-intensive manufacturing or services exports. But manufacturing exports are modest, facing stiff competition from China and India.

Foreign-investment flows surged in recent years, but are largely the product of intraregional petrodollar recycling. It’s doubtful that these financial flows, unlike investment in factories undertaken by industrial firms, will convey new technology that would accelerate productivity growth.

The Arab countries score relatively poorly on a nexus of indicators relating to cross-border economic integration and the transfer, dissemination and application of technological knowledge and innovation. Relatively weak intellectual property rights protection and state domination of many industries have retarded technology transfer and absorption.

Local technical capacity, on which a dynamic industrial sector could be built, is uncertain. It is possible that with institutional or policy reform latent capabilities would manifest themselves, but under current conditions, evidence of industrial competence is muted.

This bleak situation may partly reflect the relative absence of outside catalysts. As a group, the Arab countries have weak linkages to the outside world, with the exceptions of extractive industries and tourism, where geology or special attractions like the Pyramids confer irreproducible advantages.

Isolation from international technology inflows

In short, any links between the latent productive possibilities of the Arab people with goods and services demanded in the global market appear weak or nonexistent. The relative isolation from international technology inflows, whether in the form of FDI or technology licenses or the use of foreign consultants, has stunted productivity growth.

Isolation inhibits the ability of firms, most locally owned, in Algeria, Egypt and Morocco to enter international markets in new product areas, despite membership in the WTO and preferential market access through special trade agreements.

Building such links presents a formidable challenge. Addressing the institutional weaknesses requires a prolonged and uncertain slog including building a higher quality technically oriented education system and improving the intellectual property rights regime.

Under such circumstances the issues of setting priorities and linkage are non-trivial. Today’s success stories in East Asia, for example, did not get everything right from the start, maintaining economically questionable practices in some sectors for extended periods of time.

In terms of corruption, all have not achieved Nordic levels of probity today, much less at the start of their periods of rapid growth. It may be that strong performance in some areas compensate for weakness in others.

Lack of political dynamism

The region’s reputation as a risky business environment certainly inhibits reform, in part due to deep uncertainty about the future of many political regimes. While the region’s contemporary economic performance may not be distinctive, its enduring political authoritarianism is.

Some of the region’s governments rely on relatively narrow ethnic, religious or tribal constituencies, contributing to fundamental uncertainty about political transition and the nature of successor regimes.

The region’s lack of political dynamism in the face of underlying social change, together with the increasingly religious orientation of the political opposition, paradoxically raises the possibility of abrupt transitions or regime changes.

Intermittent terrorist incidents elevate the risk premium. Such deep political uncertainty discourages behavior that involves irreversibility – from physical investment to investing in education.

“Arab Economies in a Changing World”

That said, one is struck by the degree of intraregional variation in the indicators such as the amount of time or number of approvals it takes to open a new business, as reported in our book “Arab Economies in a Changing World.”

This intra-group variation is important for two reasons: First, it suggests that whatever determines outcomes on these measures is not necessarily culturally or religiously determined.

The influence of Islam or the anthropology of Arab culture may have many effects on local institutions and practices, but cannot explain why it takes nearly three times as long to enforce a contract in Egypt as it does in Jordan.

Second, for some countries, there could be considerable gains associated with achieving “best-practice” as defined by colleagues in their region. They need not become Norway.

These issues are anything but value-free. Professional economists often focus on efficiency, but other values matter as well.

Globalization to local values

In a poll recently conducted by Zogby International in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, majorities in four of the six countries supported governing business by sharia law, with pluralities in all six agreeing that sharia required further interpretation to enable businesses in the Muslim world to integrate into the global economy.

The views elicited in the Zogby poll could be interpreted as forming a basis for adapting the demands of globalization to local values, and one can imagine an alternative set of institutions and practices that would deliver the benefits yielding reform with Arab characteristics, to paraphrase the Chinese experience. Islamic finance might be an example. But the Washington Consensus it is not.

Another poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that while popular attitudes in the Middle East do not appear to be “anti-market,” as some have alleged, they are not particularly supportive of the process of globalization on existing terms. The issue is how to square efficiency with the values and aspirations of local communities.

Caught in a downward spiral

The Middle East has long been a politically contested region of global significance. The demographic pressures the region faces to productively employ its young people raise the stakes even higher.

It’s not difficult to envision the region caught in a downward spiral where impoverishment, discontent, militancy and repression feed upon one another, deterring reform and impeding growth.

Yet this is not the only possible future path. Over the past year, Egypt, for example, made prodigious advances in the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business rankings. Dubai aims to become the Singapore of the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi has contracted with the Singapore government to improve its educational system. If the governments can address their daunting employment challenge, the region’s demographics could turn from a potential burden to a valuable asset.

The Arab world could reap a demographic dividend as the new generation enters its most productive working years – a phenomenon that contributed to the outstanding performance of East Asia over the past four decades or so. Growing prosperity, confidence and optimism about the future could underpin movement toward greater political openness and social tolerance.

Marcus Noland is a senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economy. Howard Pack is a professor with the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. They are the authors of “Arab Economies in a Changing World,” published by the Peterson Institute in 2007

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Hereditary Succession in Egypt
Keeping Up Democratic Appearances

By Jürgen Stryjak

Jordan has a hereditary monarchy, in Syria dictatorial power has been passed on from father to son. In Egypt, too, though formally a democracy, the handover of power is looking more than likely to be a family affair. Jürgen Stryjak reports

In autumn 2004, an Egyptian student magazine ran a cover story listing the contributions to human civilisation made by the Arab world during its inventive heyday in the Middle Ages. Now, the magazine went on to suggest, the Arabs were about to provide the world with yet another achievement: hereditary democracy.

Though the article made no mention of the Egyptian president, the feared handover of political power from Mubarak senior to Mubarak junior was clearly at the root of the cynicism and irony behind the protest.

Even in 2004, such student fears were not without justification. In Tahrir Square, near the Egyptian Museum in the heart of downtown Cairo, a four-storey-high poster appeared at around the same time as the article.

Image transfer ‚àö‚Ć l’Egyptien

The poster showed Gamal Mubarak, son of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, alongside the five Egyptian medal winners from the Olympic Games in Athens. It had been the country’s biggest Olympic medal haul for 56 years. Evidently the chance of basking in some of the reflected glory was something the regime was reluctant to pass up on.

For the country’s critical intellectuals this was not simply an example of “image transfer”, as it is known in advertising jargon, but rather a portentous warning and one that has triggered heated debate, a clear indication that Gamal is now being publicly groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps, and proof positive of the country’s final desertion of democratic principles.

In October of the same year, the “Kifaya” protest movement published its manifesto, “Egyptian Movement for Change”, a document which, above all, raised its voice in protest against the possibility of presidential succession.

“Enough is enough!”

“Kifaya” roughly translates as “enough is enough”. The gloomy prospect of Mubarak the younger waiting in the wings to follow on from the near quarter century of autocratic rule perpetrated by his father is one that is inspiring the protestors, a group embodying a broad political spectrum that includes the left, liberals and fundamentalist Islam.

What followed was a brief taste of unwonted freedom for Egyptian civil society and one that in retrospect has taken on an illusory, mirage-like quality. In early 2005, Mubarak senior announced the first more or less free presidential elections, with multiple candidates, for September 7 of that year.

The leader of the liberal “Al-Ghad” party, which was surprisingly granted official approval six months ago, gained eight per cent of the votes in the subsequent election, coming second behind Mubarak. Opposition newspapers, formerly banned, were now allowed to begin publishing again, and others began to appear.

Short-lived freedom

Suddenly even the president was fair game for criticism. The country’s independent media were now openly criticising him, as indeed were some of those usually loyal to the state.

In their regular speeches and interviews, both father and son have been at pains to deny rumours of any impending transfer of power within the family. This was most notable in an interview given by Hosni Mubarak on an American TV channel prior to the last presidential election.

Asked who, if not himself, the senior, should run for election, Mubarak answered: “Not what you think!” An answer that brought smiles to the faces of both presenter and president, though there was a hint of irritation as Mubarak added that, certain elements were using theses rumours about his son because they needed something to criticise, and to fuel their propaganda. It was something, he claimed, that had never crossed their minds.

But Hosni Mubarak has governed since 1981 and is in his fifth term of office; he will be 80 next year. Son Gamal is seen as someone who can be trusted, as efficient and a modernizer. The 43-year-old investment banker, a graduate of the “American University of Cairo”, has worked in London and is favoured by the Egyptian economic elite.

The appointment of reforming economists, technocrats and managers to ministerial posts has been put down to his influence. The current economic growth of seven per cent is credited to him. Already, after a meteoric rise, he is the second most powerful man in the country.

Popular autocrat

The Mubarak family firm with the patriarch at the helm, held securely in his iron fist, guarantees the kind of stability that many ordinary people believe is necessary to steer the country through troubled waters in a region where many neighbouring countries are threatening to sink into chaos. It is by no means unthinkable, therefore, that the president’s son might actually win an election.

A referendum which delivered a victory for Gamal Mubarak, even where this was due to lack of alternatives, would still, nominally, be democratic. Possibly because of this, since the autumn of 2005, the opposition has been finding itself exposed to an ever-increasing degree of repression. Civil liberties are being increasingly abused.

The beacon of hope that was the “Al-Ghad” party has been reduced to an irrelevance. On the flimsiest of pretexts the party leader, Ayman Nour, found himself the victim of what amounted to a show trial followed by conviction and a five-year prison sentence.

Tough on opposition

Independent newspaper editors critical of the regime were brought to trial and the country’s constitution amended by new regulations that make it impossible for the secular civil opposition in its current weakened state to put up candidates for the presidency.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the only relevant opposition force, is tolerated, but also illegal, and so in no position to put up a candidate.

Critics of the regime such as the sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim or the writer Alaa Al-Aswani believe Mubarak is using this to frighten the West. The message is: the alternative to me is Islamic fundamentalism!

Apart from the representatives of Mubarak’s ruling NDP party, there is no one who is currently in a position to fulfil the necessary conditions for presidential candidacy. Besides, the most recent constitutional amendment makes membership of a so-called party supreme council mandatory.

Putting a democratic face on succession

At the party conference in Cairo in early November Mubarak’s NDP set up this very council, with son Gamal as a member – a clear step in the direction of hereditary succession in the guise of democracy as far as the opposition is concerned.

The dynamic son of the president is not without a flaw, however. He did not have a military career. A serious defect, since for decades, the political ruling class in Egypt has relied on the support of the powerful military.

The changeover from father to son, according to experts, can therefore only take place while Hosni Mubarak, former fighter pilot and head of the air force, is still alive. The next presidential elections are not scheduled until 2011.

Jürgen Stryjak ¬¨¬© 2007

Translated from the German by Ron Walker

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Divisions in the Muslim Brotherhood

David Wroe
November 17, 2007

THE lowly shoe is considered a degrading weapon in Egypt. To be beaten with a shoe adds insult to injury.

So when Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Islamist group whose members have frequent encounters with the police, threatened critics with his shoes last year, it was seen as a classic example of an intemperate leader’s inability to control his language.

Under Mr Akef’s leadership, the Muslim Brotherhood, considered the world’s largest, oldest and most influential Islamist organisation, is in crisis in its home country. Analysts in Egypt say it is struggling to define its political goals amid divisions at the top and a lack of fresh, charismatic leadership.

At the same time, a new generation of brothers and sisters are gaining prominence through Egypt’s ubiquitous political tool, internet blogging, and are starting, sometimes gently, to criticise their leaders.

Differences within the 79-year-old organisation emerged last month when it released a draft of its first political platform, which advocated banning women and Coptic Christians, who make up a 10th of Egypt’s population, from becoming president. The draft also raised the spectre of an Iran-style religious council.

Before the final version of the platform is released, Mr Akef, 79, indicated in two interviews with The Age that he would not bow on the question of women and Copts. “It is the Muslim Brotherhood’s opinion that a woman cannot be president,” he said.

“How can a Christian president protect the religion of Islam?”

Mr Akef also railed against globalisation, which he sees as naked US ambition, and slammed Western democracy as subservient to whims of the masses, without moral absolutes.

Banned since 1954, the brotherhood shocked the ruling National Democratic Party and Western observers in 2005 by winning a fifth of the seats in the Egyptian Parliament through independent proxies.

Pragmatist brothers are pushing to create a more mainstream political party. But Khalil al-Anani, an expert on political Islam, who has written a book on the brotherhood and is deputy editor of a government-funded political journal, said most brothers did not really understand democratic values such as pluralism and the protection of minorities.

“It’s very complicated for a religious organisation to transfer to a political party,” he said. “Most of them don’t believe in the value of equality.” He said the organisation was in crisis, with deep divisions in the wake of the poor public reaction to its draft platform.

One moderate on the brotherhood’s 15-member executive, Abdel Monem Abou el-Fotouh, told The Age: “I believe it is the right of any citizen to be president, whatever their sex ‚Äö√Ѭ∂ whatever their religion.”

Brotherhood members played down the divisions but Hesham Kassem, founder of the respected independent newspaper al-Masry al-Youm, said: “I don’t remember ever seeing so many schisms and differences between the dinosaurs and the innovators.”

As well as having influential branches around the world, the brotherhood is Egypt’s strongest opposition to President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled this country of 80 million people as an effective autocrat since 1981 and is a key ally of the US. The Government initiates periodic crackdowns, the most recent of which has seen 40 members facing military courts, sparking human rights protests. Most leaders have been jailed repeatedly, in Mr Akef’s case for a total of 23 years. Estimates of the brotherhood’s Egyptian membership range from 100,000 to 400,000.

Doubts linger over how it would behave in power. Young brothers become defensive when quizzed on the specifics of Islamic democracy.

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Jordan’s Disproportionate democracy
Heavyweights and wealthy Jordanian businessmen won elections marred by tribalism and vote-buying.

By Oula Farawati

Official numbers showed a low general turn-out of around 54 per cent of eligible voters, with the lowest voting witnessed in Amman’s various districts and the highest in villages and Bedouin districts. About 2.4 million Jordanians, out of some 3.4 million eligible to vote, registered for the elections, the second under the reign of the reform-minded King Abdullah.

As was widely expected, the results showed a setback for Islamists who fielded 22 candidates under their long-time slogan “Islam is the solution”. They won eight seats and lost some key strongholds in several districts especially in Zarqa and east Amman. The Islamic Action Front (IAF) accused the government of rigging the elections by allowing a “number of army men” to vote and failing to stop widespread vote-buying and multiple voting.

“Many under-age [18-years] people voted in some stations. Many people were also allowed to vote although the polling station is not typed on their IDs,” IAF spokesperson Jameel Abu Baker said during a press conference.

Analysts said the government is reluctant to carry out promised improvements to the electoral code because of its fear that the IAF, which is linked to Hamas through the international Muslim Brotherhood, might witness the success Hamas had in the elections last year.

In the 2003 parliament, the movement won 17 seats after fielding a full slate of 30 candidates. The IAF had said the system is designed to ensure they never get close to power.

But analysts argued that the movement has lost some of its popularity in Jordan after failing to meet people’s demands. “People have given the movement their trust one parliament after another but they were too weak to carry out their programme, especially after the deterioration in their relationship with the government,” one analyst close to Islamists said.

He added that the movement also suffered internal problems over who should run as IAF candidates which became public and affected their image.

The government announced that it had foiled two attempts at vote-buying on Tuesday. But according to observers and several citizens, vote-buying was rife all around the kingdom.

“I gave my vote in exchange for JD10. I voted and all my sisters did and we went back home with JD40 in total,” a Jordanian woman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. She cast her vote in Amman’s 1st district.

Many of the heavyweights retained their seats in the 110- seat assembly. Surprisingly, some of the strong candidates failed to make a comeback.

“Saad Hayel Srour, Hashim Al-Dabbas and Abdullah Akayleh did not make it. Obviously, lack of money was the main factor,” Jihad Mansi, a Jordanian reporter specialised in parliamentary issues told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The family factor also is a problem, since people tend to vote along family and tribal lines rather than according to the candidate’s platform. After leaving the polling station in Amman’s high-end Khalda neighbourhood, Muna Abu Hdeib said she cast her vote for her cousin, Mohamed Abu Hdeib, who won this year’s and previously the 2003 elections. “I voted for him because I have a tribal obligation towards him. We are related and he helped us a lot during the last parliament,” she said.

Rowaida Abu Hdeib who also voted for the same candidate said she came to the polls under family pressure. Though she voted, she said she did not believe parliament can be of any help to the society. “No deputy has helped us. It is all talk, talk, talk, and no one does anything. I don’t know. No one is good and all the candidates for me are the same,” she said.

The one-man, one-vote electoral code allocates a disproportionate number of seats to sparsely populated rural areas of the country that are controlled by tribes traditionally loyal to the system. Christians, women and some and ethnic minorities (Chechens, Circassians) are also guaranteed seats, while urban centres such as Amman and neighbouring Zarqa, where Jordanians of Palestinian origins live and the liberals and Islamists have their base, are severely under-represented.

Mowaffaq Malkawi, a journalist, decided to boycott the elections. He said the system according to which the elections are held is meant to sideline Jordanians of Palestinian origins. He believes this was unfair since those make up around half of the Jordanian population. The system also allocates a fewer number of seats to candidates from refugee camps than to candidates from other tribally-dominated areas of the kingdom.

“Of course I boycotted the elections. I boycotted them because of the one-man, one-vote elections system which is backward and unfair and was enacted to prevent most of the Jordanian society from having a fair representation,” Malkawi said.

Jordanian political analyst Mahmoud Rimawi said voters were disillusioned by the ineffectiveness of parliament and by their inability to participate in the Jordanian political process. “The Jordanian democratic experience which started in 1989 should have developed and matured. The government is to blame for the one-man, one-vote formula. Also people are reluctant to vote and push for change. Our society has become negative,” Rimawi told the Weekly.

The agenda of the upcoming parliament is full of thorny political and economic issues currently affecting Jordan. The assembly will have to deal with a looming government decision to “float” the prices of oil derivatives, which have long been subsidised. The house will also face another decision by economic-reform supporters in the government to lift government subsidies on bread in light of sky-rocketing wheat prices internationally. An imminent decision by the Social Security Corporation to increase the retirement age is expected to be the subject of heated discussion.

“The problem is that we do not expect a quality parliament because all the candidates are either tribal candidates or individuals seeking power and prestige, not political change and reform, so we do not expect a lot from them,” Rimawi said.

Politically, the assembly will face the repercussions of hot issues starting with the Arab-Israeli conflict, the political chaos in Lebanon and the bloodshed in Iraq. On this very front, the legislature will deal with a rising number of Iraqi refugees who the government said are straining the resources of the country. Official numbers, depending on the results of a six-month long survey by the Oslo-based Norwegian Research Institute (FAFO), put the number of Iraqi refugees in the kingdom at 500,000.

If the predictions come true, the upcoming parliament will only deepen the general public’s apathy towards democratisation in a country that suffers internal economic woes and severe external political pressures.

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Jordan Islamists claim poll fraud

Jordan’s Islamist opposition has lost most of its seats in parliamentary polls which it says were marred by vote-rigging and electoral fraud.

Islamic Action Front (IAF) candidates were confirmed winners in just six of the 22 seats they contested, down from 17 in the last parliament.

It said its own polling indicated at least 16 IAF members should have won.

The interior minister denied any fraud, saying the government had conducted “impartial and fair” elections.

IAF spokesman Jamil Abu Bakr called for a rerun of polling in constituencies where he said fraud had occurred.

“This is an electoral massacre… violations by far exceeded even the last elections… it will have harmful repercussions on the country’s political progress,” he said.

He pointed to the results in Zarqa, a traditional Islamist stronghold, where the IAF failed to win a single seat.

Tribal areas

Results were announced by Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez at a news conference in Amman.

Officials admitted that 17 people had been arrested on suspicion of interfering with the electoral process, including two for alleged vote-buying.

But Mr Eid said accusations of widespread vote-rigging “had been exaggerated by the media”.

The IAF fielded candidates in a fifth of the 110 seats, but only after receiving assurances from the government that the vote would be fair.

“Our mistake was that we believed in government promises,” an unnamed Islamist politician told AFP.

Critics of the electoral system say it is tailored to counter popular support of Islamist and liberal opposition candidates in urban areas.

Staunchly conservative tribal areas are over-represented in parliament, with each MP representing 2,000-3,000 voters, compared with more than 90,000 voters per MP in the capital Amman.

Correspondents say a number of Islamist sympathisers ran as independents but none of them succeeded in winning a seat.

Real power rests with the king in Jordan, who appoints governments, approves legislation and is able to dissolve parliament.

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Jordan Vote Reflects Islamic Parties’ Slide

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 26 — Voters rebuked Islamic politicians in parliamentary elections in Jordan last week, following poor showings by Islamic-oriented political blocs in Egypt and Morocco over the past six months.

Islamic political movements are holding their ground in some other parts of the Middle East, but official manipulation of elections in Jordan and elsewhere is driving down voter turnout and curbing support for Islamic political blocs and political opposition groups overall, according to analysts, politicians and voters. In some cases, the Islamic groups have been hurt by internal dissension and political miscalculations.

Arab governments have felt freer to restrict the Islamic political movements since the Bush administration eased off pressure for free elections in the Arab world. The U.S. shift came as Islamic movements made strong showings in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories in 2005 and 2006.

“Arab governments feel they have more leeway to do what they want to do,” said Michele Dunne, an expert in Arab affairs at the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In part owing to U.S. preoccupation with troubles in Iraq and elsewhere, Arab governments perceive that “no one from outside is going to pay this much attention,” Dunne said.

Some leading U.S. presidential candidates say the next administration should continue viewing democracy efforts in the Middle East with caution.

Any U.S. project to promote democratization in the Arab world should come only in “digestible steps,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said recently. Republican presidential candidate and former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has stressed security over elections, saying, “Democracy can’t flourish unless people are safe.”

Egypt has been the most aggressive in blocking the Islamic movements, after members of the Muslim Brotherhood running as independents won roughly one-fifth of the seats in the parliament’s lower house in 2005.

During parliamentary elections this summer, riot police sealed off polling places in some areas of support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a referendum championed by the government, Egyptian voters this spring approved constitutional amendments that barred religious-oriented candidacies and retained provisions making it impossible for any current, significant opposition bloc to contest the presidency.

“There is a temporary success in cracking down on Islamic movements in the region,” said Mohammed Habib, the first deputy chairman of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. “But in the long run, the Islamic movement is gaining popular support . . . and I believe the oppressive regimes will fail in their crackdown in the long run.”

Jordan’s Islamic Action Front last Tuesday suffered one of its worst election defeats since Jordan’s monarchy restored parliament in 1989. The Islamic party won only six of the 22 parliamentary seats it had contested.

Tribal candidates and parties allied to Jordan’s King Abdullah II won the majority of the 110 seats. Jordan’s electoral system gives disproportionate strength to rural areas, where support for Islamic and secular opposition parties is weakest.

The Islamic party alleged vote fraud, which the government denied.

“How do you want people to participate in public life . . . when you do all kinds of violations? Many will feel hopeless, feel this is a joke talking about democracy and elections,” said Sabri Samirah, a spokesman for the Islamic Action Front. He spoke late last week, after bitter supporters of the party trudged out in the rainstorms that followed election day to tear down the movement’s soggy banners, bearing the Brotherhood slogan, “Islam is the solution.”

Morocco recently redrew its electoral districts, with the effect of diluting votes for the country’s Islamic party. The party had been expected to win parliamentary elections this fall but failed to significantly improve its strength in parliament. Secular parties prevailed partly because perceived popular support for the Islamic party led the secularists to redouble their own campaigning, analysts said.

Islamic parties in some countries have lost appeal among voters who see them as too hard-line religiously or as flawed politically as any other office seekers.

Um Muhanned al-Atoum, a 44-year-old voter in Jordan’s capital, long had backed the Islamic party, she said. She changed allegiance in last week’s elections, disgusted that two Brotherhood lawmakers had attended the 2006 funeral of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.

“It hurt me when I heard that,” Atoum said.

Islamic political leaders, as well as some analysts in the West, warn that Islamic-oriented voters may see violence as the only means of change if Arab governments block representative democracy.

“The government is sending the signal that we do not accept Islamists,” whether “moderates or extremists,” Samirah said. Turnouts have fallen in countries where authoritarian governments have been reluctant to let elections effect change.

Egypt officially put turnout in June elections for the upper house of parliament at 30 percent. An Egyptian election-monitoring group,, estimated actual turnout as low as 3 percent.

Only 37 percent of voters in Morocco cast ballots in September’s parliamentary elections, the lowest turnout in the country’s history.

And in Jordan, the government held polling places open for two extra hours last week to achieve the 51 percent minimum turnout required for a legal election.

Special correspondents Yasmin Mousa in Amman and Nora Younis in Cairo contributed to this report.

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Committee to Protect Journalists

Critical writer jailed in Tunisia

New York, November 27, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by the detention of a Tunisian freelance journalist known for his published criticism of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and members of the first family.

On Monday, police in Sfax, Tunisia’s second largest city, detained Slim Boukhdhir, a well-known blogger and contributor to the London-based Al-Quds Al Arabi. He was charged with “aggression against a public employee” and “violation of public morality standards,” according to the journalist’s lawyer. Under the penal code, the charges could bring 18 months in prison. Boukhdhir was also charged under a 1993 national identity card law with “refusal to show his identification card to a public security agent.” He could be fined under that law.

A court in the suburban city of Sakiet Ezzeit denied his release today. The hearing is scheduled to resume on December 4. Authorities did not disclose the basis for the charges.

“The Tunisian government is again using the judicial system to silence independent-minded journalists and bloggers,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Slim Boukhdhir has been a frequent target of assault and harassment by plainclothes police and it appears the courts are now taking their turn.”

Boukhdhir has staged several hunger strikes in recent years to protest government harassment and authorities’ refusal to grant him a passport. He was assaulted as he left an Internet caf‚àö¬© in Tunis in May, shortly after writing an online story critical of the first lady’s brother.

Boukhdhir’s lawyer, Abdel Wahab Maattar, told CPJ that he was surprised Judge Hatem Ouarda did not allow his client to give more than a brief denial of the charges during today’s proceedings. “This case seriously raises the issue of the independence of the judiciary,” Maattar said.

Police arrested Boukhdhir Monday morning as he was leaving the city of Sfax, about 140 miles (230 kilometers) south of the Tunisian capital, in a taxi with other passengers. He told his lawyers that he had an appointment that day at the Khaznadar Police Station in the suburbs of Tunis regarding his passport application.

Human rights groups condemned the arrest as politically motivated. Mohamed Abbou, a human rights lawyer who spent more than two years in prison for criticizing Ben Ali, said Boukhdhir had filed several police complaints saying that plainclothes officers had assaulted him. “All these complaints were ignored, as if the state did not exist and there were only room for settling scores with dissidents, vengefulness and violence,” he said.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

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Pakistan: a new Sharif in town
The former prime minister’s return on Sunday could fill the opposition’s leadership void.

By Shahan Mufti | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
November 26, 2007 edition

Islamabad, Pakistan – The return Sunday of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who ended eight years of exile just one day before the deadline to register for parliamentary elections, adds a powerful wild card that could bring either political stability or continued discord to Pakistan in the run-up to the January vote, analysts say.

If Mr. Sharif decides to run in the elections, he is likely to pull in the rest of the political opposition – including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto – with him. His candidacy could provide a much-needed sheen of legitimacy to the process. But if the two-time ex-premier heeds what many in his camp are suggesting and boycotts the election, remaining outside the political process, he could find himself leading a street movement.

“If Nawaz Sharif plays according to the new rules set up by [President Pervez] Musharraf, he would be doing the general a favor,” says Rasul Baksh Rais, professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, referring specifically to Pakistan’s new Supreme Court and elections announced under the state of emergency. If he chooses to stay away from the election, however, “it would delegitimize the entire electoral process and put pressure on Musharraf to get out of the system altogether.”

On Sunday, thousands of cheering supporters broke police security barriers around Lahore’s international airport to receive Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, who some suggest may become the new face of the party if the government bars his elder sibling from contesting elections.

Sharif flew directly to Pakistan from the Islamic holy city of Medina, Saudi Arabia, and was escorted to his vehicle through throngs of ecstatic supporters, before addressing a rally.

A wildly influential and powerful leader from Punjab, the most populous province in the country, and by default the strongest in Pakistan’s electoral college, Sharif can expect to emerge as an influential leader once again.

“Nawaz Sharif’s return will weigh heavily on the political situation in Pakistan,” says Ansar Abbasi, an editor at one of the country’s top English newspapers, The News. “Sharif has the power to muster up the opposition forces like no one else,” he says.

But Sharif also returns to a country frozen by political restrictions and roiled by violence. His political party, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) reported that police detained more than 1,600 of its members before Sharif’s plane landed in Lahore. Meanwhile, two suicide bombings killed dozens of security and intelligence personnel in the garrison city of Rawalpindi a day before Sharif’s arrival, adding to the continued assault on Musharraf from all sides, despite the installment of de facto martial law earlier this month.

Sharif arrives just as Musharraf, the Army general who deposed him in 1999, faces the lowest point of his eight-year presidency. He is swamped by challenges to his rule from the judiciary, the media, civil society, political activists, and Islamist militants. He has promised to quit his Army post and take an oath as a civilian president within days.

A careful deal with Saudi Arabia

Sharif’s return comes on the heels of a visit last week by Musharraf to Saudi Arabia, where Sharif had lived in exile as a guest of the Saudi royal family since 2000. All the parties involved – Musharraf, the Saudi royals, and Sharif and his brother – were tight-lipped about the topics discussed during the visit. But Sharif’s arrival days later aboard a Saudi king’s plane in Lahore, where he was met by a bulletproof Mercedes gifted by the Saudi family, suggests that the matter of Sharif’s return to Pakistan had been discussed.

Sharif’s exile had been part of a political settlement, in which he promised to leave the country and not participate in political activities for 10 years. Musharraf toppled Sharif’s government in a bloodless military coup in 1999 and filed charges of treason and hijacking against him.

Sharif had attempted to return to the country in September, bucking his Saudi hosts’ advice to remain in exile. But Musharraf had Sharif deported before the former premier could exit the airport.

Sharif’s close Islamist connections

Sharif’s strong ties to Islamist political parties have attracted suspicion from some Western governments that have traditionally counted Musharraf as an ally in the US-led war on terrorism.

Sharif first rose to prominence when he was appointed as chief minister of Punjab in 1985 under the rule of General Zia-ul-Haq, the military ruler who initiated the first wave of political Islam in the country. Sharif became prime minister for the first time in 1990, winning the election in an alliance that included Jamat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in the country.

Ever since, Sharif’s on-and-off relationship with Islamist parties appeared to be a convenient formula to keep archrival Ms. Bhutto at bay. Working with these parties, Sharif also enacted legislation in both his terms as prime minister to introduce sharia, or Islamic law, to Pakistan’s political and economic systems.

“He has the option to lead the resistance in the streets,” which has gone without any solid leadership so far, says Mr. Rais.

“My hunch is he’d like to gamble on these new forces of political change rather than rely on the establishment,” he says.

Others seem to believe that Sharif is returning under the auspices of a political deal, much like Ms. Bhutto did last month, and that he will engage in negotiations with Musharraf upon his return. “The Saudis have probably advised him to join the election process,” says Mr. Abbasi, because much like the Americans, “they are concerned with maintaining stability in Pakistan,” he says.

But the All Parties Democratic Movement, an alliance of opposition parties of which Sharif will probably find himself at the helm, announced yesterday that it would boycott elections unless the country was restored to the political arrangement that existed prior to Nov. 3, when Musharraf declared a state of emergency. The alliance has demanded the reinstatement of the removed judiciary members in the next four days – a request analysts say Musharraf will likely deny.

Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on the other hand, has directed its members to file nomination papers for the election before the deadline on Monday. But Bhutto made clear that the PPP’s participation was under protest. She expressed her hope that once Sharif returned, it would be possible to convene a united opposition.

But if Bhutto and Sharif boycott the elections, it will mean yet another political deadlock. Some say the vote could still be held, “but the legitimacy of such an election would be in doubt,” said Anwar Syed, a professor at the Lahore School of Economics, in a recent column. “What will happen then? The people at large may repudiate the election and come out protesting. In other words the current political crisis may continue.”

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Pakistan’s Sharif Files for Elections
Ex-Premier Weighs Run as Musharraf Confirms He Will Quit Army Wednesday

By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, November 27, 2007; A12

LAHORE, Pakistan, Nov. 26 — Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned home triumphantly Sunday after seven years in exile, filed his candidacy papers for parliament here Monday but said he might boycott elections in January if the military government that overthrew him does not lift emergency rule and reinstate deposed senior judges.

Military officials in the capital, meanwhile, confirmed that President Pervez Musharraf will step down as Pakistan’s army chief Wednesday and take an oath as its civilian president Thursday. Analysts here see the move as an effort to appease domestic and foreign critics while maintaining political power.

Musharraf, 64, did not say when he would end emergency rule, which he imposed Nov. 3, and he has made it clear he will not meet his opponents’ demand to restore the Supreme Court judges he fired for refusing to endorse the emergency. The government had said previously that Musharraf would resign from the army this week.

The moves scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday will mean that Musharraf “has retired from the army but remains, as all presidents do, as supreme commander of the armed forces,” said Musharraf’s spokesman, retired Gen. Rashid Qureshi.

Qureshi said emergency rule would be lifted when it is no longer needed and that the issue has nothing to do with Musharraf’s departure from the army. Musharraf will be replaced in the military post by the current vice chief of the army, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, a former military intelligence chief who is widely regarded as a professional soldier with no political ambitions.

As part of his effort to engineer a smooth but controlled transition to civilian rule, Musharraf installed a caretaker government earlier this month and announced that parliamentary elections would be held in January. Analysts have said he is betting that the fractious opposition parties will ultimately decide to compete.

But opponents say credible and fair elections cannot be held under emergency rule, which entails the suspension of many civil liberties. Opposition parties have said they will decide by week’s end whether to boycott the vote.

“The next few days will show if Musharraf comes out as the Great Tactician or the Great Strategist,” said Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistani analyst in Washington. “The key will be how fast the opposition holds together and boycotts the elections and then takes its protest to the streets.”

Sharif, at his first news conference on Pakistani soil since he was overthrown by Musharraf in October 1999, strongly condemned the military government Monday and said it must “roll back” all provisions of the emergency rule imposed Nov. 3 — especially the firing of senior judges — if it expects opponents to participate in elections on Jan. 8.

Sharif, the country’s last civilian prime minister, said his party did not want to boycott the polls but was “being pushed to the wall” by the continued crackdown on the judiciary, the news media and political opponents.

“The most important thing is that the judiciary must be restored,” he said. “We want a democratic Pakistan. We want the rule of law. Pakistan is the only example of a country with a judiciary under house arrest.”

Sharif, 57, whose return from exile Musharraf tried repeatedly to prevent before the upcoming elections, said he did not have personal ambitions for office. Although his return was timed to meet the Monday deadline for filing candidacy papers, he insisted that he would withdraw his candidacy if opposition parties decide to boycott the process.

“I am not a job seeker. I am not looking for office. I am looking to rid my country from the menace of dictatorship,” Sharif said, speaking with poise but looking exhausted after an all-night procession through welcoming crowds in his native city.

Sharif’s major rival, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party, filed candidacy papers Sunday but said she was doing so “under protest.” Sharif said he had been in contact with Bhutto and hoped they might find common ground on the elections, but he noted that Bhutto has not demanded the restoration of all judges.

Sharif, the son of a wealthy industrial family from Lahore, in the eastern province of Punjab, was twice elected prime minister from the mainstream but right-leaning Pakistan Muslim League and commands the loyalty of many Punjabis. Bhutto, 54, is an elegant, Western-educated politician and the daughter of a former prime minister who was hanged by Pakistan’s last military dictator. She is the longtime head of the large, left-leaning Pakistan People’s Party, which has a national following among working-class and secular Pakistanis.

One candidate who filed for the elections under especially surreal circumstances is Aitzaz Ahsan, 62, a prominent lawyer from Lahore and a longtime activist in Bhutto’s party. He was arrested Nov. 3 and imprisoned for three weeks along with three other senior lawyers who had spearheaded challenges in the Supreme Court to Musharraf’s rule.

On Sunday, government officials suddenly took Ahsan from prison and drove him to Lahore, where he was placed under house arrest, with police guards posted outside his rambling, vine-covered home and law office in the suburb of Zaman Park. On the front door they nailed a piece of paper with the scrawled words “Zaman Park Sub-Jail.”

On Monday, Ahsan was driven under police escort to the Lahore election commission’s office to file candidacy papers for the parliamentary elections. The gray-haired lawyer and author was mobbed by well-wishers, who placed garlands of flowers around his neck. Before being driven back to his house, he told journalists he did not see how the country could possibly hold free and fair elections.

“No matter who runs, they are going to manufacture the results,” Ahsan’s wife, Bushra, said in an interview Monday. Her husband is not allowed to receive visitors. She said the military government hates him “because he cannot be bought” and has pitted an extremely wealthy candidate against him, although it wants him to run to give credibility to the elections.

The elections are like a game being played by an emperor, she said: “We don’t believe in these elections, and we are in no mood to compete.”

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Where We Went Wrong In Pakistan

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, November 21, 2007; Page A17

President Bush’s democracy agenda, the argument goes, is radical, hopeless, failed, dangerous and destabilizing. And he is a hypocrite for not applying it vigorously enough in Pakistan; the administration, it seems, should be more principled and energetic in pursuing a discredited foreign policy. But perhaps the need for freedom is not so discredited after all.

Pakistan has always been among the hardest of the hard cases when it comes to democracy — with its volatile combination of military rule, borderland terrorist havens and the Bomb. In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, few questioned the need for cooperation with President Pervez Musharraf in the Afghan campaign or the fight against al-Qaeda. And Pakistani cooperation was real, even though, as one administration official now recalls, “everyone knew they could have done more.”

Immediately after Musharraf’s imposition of emergency rule this month, the options were also limited. The administration could have urged the Pakistani military to overthrow Musharraf — or pressured him to get back on track by restoring civil liberties, taking off his uniform and conducting quick, fair elections. President Bush took the latter course — and would have been attacked as impulsive and intrusive if he had pushed for immediate regime change.

It is the years between Sept. 11 and the present that deserve more scrutiny. Early in this period there was a significant internal push at the White House to expand democracy-promotion efforts in Pakistan, to encourage party-building, modern electoral systems and the rule of law. But this initiative got little traction and was dwarfed by billions of dollars in military assistance to the government. “We should have pushed harder over the years,” says one senior Bush official, “because, in the end, we need the people to be anti-extremist, not just General Musharraf.” Stronger democratic institutions would come in handy right about now.

The current debate on Pakistan is a contest of historical analogies. Is Musharraf more like Ferdinand Marcos, the Filipino dictator deposed in favor of a democracy? Or is he the shah of Iran, whose fall resulted in a radical, anti-American regime?

It is Musharraf’s own view that is most instructive. According to one report, he mentions a third ruler as his model — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak has survived by presenting America with a choice: his own oppressive, military rule or the triumph of the Islamists — the pharaoh or the fanatics. And he has done his best to guarantee that these are the only choices by destroying moderate, democratic opposition and forcing most dissent into the radical mosque.

Musharraf seems to be on the same path. While talking about fighting radicalism, his real energy has been devoted to imprisoning and harassing his democratic opponents. As in Egypt, this approach has elevated the Islamists. Polling by the nonprofit group Terror Free Tomorrow shows broad Pakistani support for democracy, coupled with considerable sympathy for radical groups that oppose the military regime. In the long run, propping up favorable dictators to fight terrorism causes a backlash.

Fortunately, there are options in Pakistan beyond the pharaoh or the fanatics — responsible senior leaders of the army and well-known democratic leaders. Additional pressure on Musharraf is not likely to result in an Islamist revolution. So it would make sense to cut aid to Pakistan if Musharraf does not back off from emergency rule — not humanitarian aid, or even counterterrorism aid, but military aid not directly tied to the fight against terrorists. This would give the army a stake in Pakistan’s return to democracy.

The Pakistani crisis is important for its own sake, but it is also a warning. Eventually, we will see street protests and crackdowns in Egypt — perhaps when Mubarak passes from the scene. And the same question will arise: Have we done enough to encourage political alternatives to Islamist groups? On the current course, the answer will be “no.”

The democracy agenda has suffered by its association with Iraq, but it is hardly radical or messianic. Republican and Democratic presidents have generally believed that our nation benefits from the spread of free trade, economic development, self-government, minority and women’s rights, and the rule of law. Now it is even more urgent to encourage liberal forces that might someday compete with radical Islam for the future of strategically important states. This does not require immediate, destabilizing elections or universal regime change. It does require a mature, two-track relationship with oppressive nations — recognizing current realities while applying constant pressure for hopeful change.

As we found in the Cold War, and are finding again, this kind of democratic progress seems incredible — until it becomes irreplaceable.

Michael Gerson is the author of “Heroic Conservatism.” His e-mail address is

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How to Win a War
Left, Right or Wrong?

November 19, 2007 – 12:00am
By Lee Blum –

On each side of the aisle, there is talk of the war on terror, and which party is better equipped to win this war. In the not so distant past, the Republicans were your party if the war on terror was your biggest concern. They may still be your party on this issue, but Democrats are covering some ground, thanks in large part to the Bush administration’s foreign policy blunders. Nonetheless, nobody is really sure what a victory would look like. Does it mean that we kill every terrorist? Does winning mean that all state sponsors of terror are defeated in war? Does it mean we last longer than the terrorists and hope they give up? Winning the war on terror means that the ideologies of terrorists are discredited and the alternative of democracy is made more appealing.

Both the Republican and Democratic approaches to the war on terror are incorrect. Republicans want to stay on the offensive and fight the terrorists abroad so we do not have to fight them here. The fact of the matter is that we cannot be on the offensive any more than we already are. We have troops stationed throughout the world and military spending is already over 4 percent of GDP, according to the CIA. Additional expansion of the military and our offensive strategy is unwise. The Democratic position is not much better. The leading Democrats wish to downsize the military, which is appropriate to some extent, but they do not want to encourage democracy. Rather, some Democrats would rather just let the world be, and the U.S. will deal with the consequences. Although we should not forcibly export democracy as we have done in Iraq, the U.S. still needs to demonstrate the appeal of democracy and free markets as an alternative to terrorism and sharia law.

The war on terror will only be won once militant Islam loses credibility within the Muslim world. History demonstrates this idea quite well. The end of the Cold War could not have been possible without help from people inside the former Soviet Union. There was a realization that communism was not sustainable and was not working. In Italy, Mussolini was overthrown by his own people, in part, as a result of their discontent with fascism. The same idea holds true for the war on terror. The U.S. can fight endlessly and take every measure and precaution to prevent the success of terrorist organizations. However, not much will change unless the Muslim world condemns terrorism. Much of this burden falls on the Muslim people. In a BBC poll conducted in March 2007, 51 percent of Iraqis said that attacks on coalition forces are acceptable. This is certainly not to say that everybody in the Muslim world holds this same sentiment. Yet, there has not yet been a major public condemnation of terrorism against the west by Muslim nations and leaders.

The U.S. and western nations must also do their parts in changing attitudes within the Muslim world. This should be done in two ways. First, the U.S. needs to redeem its status as a “city upon a hill.” It is well-documented that the U.S. can be alienating and at times unfriendly towards other nations. There is no need to get in to this, but just let it be known that the U.S. needs to improve. However, what has happened in Iraq should not deter the U.S. from encouraging democracy and freedom. This tactic needs to be tweaked. Success should not be measured by elections, but rather by the development of free markets, the rule of law, and civil liberties. America should not be afraid to show the world how great she is. A thoughtful and tactful approach to encouraging democracy and freedom can prove to be successful. The election results in Palestine that brought Hamas to power, or in Iran that brought Ahmadinejad to power, should not discourage the U.S. Isolationism is not the answer. Encouraging constitutional liberalism and democracy abroad will serve the world and America well in the long run.

The war on terror will undoubtedly be a long one. However, we only compound the war if we continue to take both extremes; increasing military power on one end or adopting an isolationist attitude on the other. The U.S. should be proactive in encouraging democratic ideals in foreign nations. This will serve as an alternative for the Muslim world. This alternative of constitutional liberalism and democracy, combined with renouncement of terrorism from Muslims, will ultimately bring the war on terror to a close.

Lee Blum is a Sun blogger. He can be contacted at

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Political Islam and US foreign policy

John L. Esposito

US foreign policy and political Islam today are deeply intertwined. Every US president since Jimmy Carter has had to deal with political Islam; none has been so challenged as George W. Bush. Policymakers, particularly since 9/11, have demonstrated an inability and/or unwillingness to distinguish between radical and moderate Islamists. They have largely treated political Islam as a global threat similar to the way that Communism was perceived. However, even in the case of Communism, foreign policymakers eventually moved from an ill-informed, broad-brush, and paranoid approach personified by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s to more nuanced, pragmatic, and reasonable policies that led to the establishment of relations with China in the 1970s, even as tensions remained between the United States and the Soviet Union.

As Islamist parties continue to rise in prominence across the globe, it is necessary that policymakers learn to make distinctions and adopt differentiated policy approaches. This requires a deeper understanding of what motivates and informs Islamist parties and the support they receive, including the ways in which some US policies feed the more radical and extreme Islamist movements while weakening the appeal of the moderate organizations to Muslim populations. It also requires the political will to adopt approaches of engagement and dialogue. This is especially important where the roots of political Islam go deeper than simple anti-Americanism and where political Islam is manifested in non-violent and democratic ways. The stunning electoral victories of HAMAS in Palestine and the Shi’a in Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood’s emergence as the leading parliamentary opposition in Egypt, and Israel’s war against HAMAS and Hizbollah go to the heart of issues of democracy, terrorism, and peace in the Middle East.

Global terrorism has also become the excuse for many Muslim autocratic rulers and Western policymakers to backslide or retreat from democratization. They warn that the promotion of a democratic process runs the risk of furthering Islamist inroads into centers of power and is counterproductive to Western interests, encouraging a more virulent anti-Westernism and increased instability. Thus, for example, despite HAMAS’ victory in free and democratic elections, the United States and Europe failed to give the party full recognition and support.

In relations between the West and the Muslim world, phrases like a clash of civilizations or a clash of cultures recur as does the charge that Islam is incompatible with democracy or that it is a particularly militant religion. But is the primary issue religion and culture or is it politics? Is the primary cause of radicalism and anti-Westernism, especially anti-Americanism, extremist theology or simply the policies of many Muslim and Western governments?

A new Gallup World Study overwhelmingly suggests the latter. The poll, whose results are released for the first time in this article, now enables us to get beyond conflicting analyses of experts and selective voices from the “Arab street.” It lets us listen to one billion Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia. And they tell us that US policies, not values, are behind the ire of the Arab/Muslim world.

History demonstrates that political Islam is both extremist and mainstream. On the one hand, Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, the Taliban’s Afghanistan, and Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda as well as terrorists from Morocco to Indonesia have espoused a revolutionary Islam that relies on violence and terror. On the other, many Islamist social and political movements across the Muslim world have worked within the political system.

Since the late 20th century Islamically-oriented candidates and political parties in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia have opted for ballots, not bullets. They have successfully contested and won municipal and parliamentary seats, held cabinet positions, and served in senior positions such as prime minister of Turkey and Iraq and president of Indonesia.

Elections since late 2001 in Pakistan, Turkey, Bahrain, and Morocco as well as in Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have reinforced the continued saliency of Islam in Muslim politics in the 21st century. The more contentious aspect of political Islam has been the extent to which militant groups like Hizbollah and HAMAS have turned to the ballot box. Hizbollah transformed itself into a Lebanese political party that has proven effective in parliamentary elections. At the same time, it remained a militia, fighting and eventually forcing Israeli withdrawal in 2000 from its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon. HAMAS defeated the PLO in democratic elections.

In responding to mainstream and extremist political Islam, US foreign policymakers require a better understanding of how global Muslim majorities see the world and, in particular, how they regard the United States. The new Gallup World Poll now enables us to move towards that understanding, finally answering the oft-asked questions: What do Muslims polled across the world have to say? How many Muslims hold extremist views? What are their priorities? What do they admire and what do they resent about the United States and the West?

According to the Gallup Poll, 7 percent think the 9/11 attacks were “completely” justified and are very critical of the United States. Among those who believe that 9/11 was not justified, whom we’ll call the moderates, 40 percent are pro-US and 60 percent view the United States unfavorably.

It is important to look more closely at the 7 percent of whom we can call “anti-US extremists,” not because all or even a significant number of them commit acts of violence, but because those with extremist views are a potential source for recruitment or support for terrorist groups. This group of potential extremists is also more likely to view other civilian attacks as justifiable. In contrast to 95 percent of moderates who said that “Other attacks in which civilians are the target were ‘mostly’ or ‘completely’ unjustified,” only 70 percent of the potential radicals agreed with this statement.

Is there a blind hatred of the United States? The question “Why do they hate us?” raised in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 looms large following continued terrorist attacks and the dramatic growth of anti-Americanism. A common answer provided by some politicians and experts has been, “They hate our way of life, our freedom, democracy, and success.” Considering the broad based anti-Americanism, not only among extremists but also among a significant mainstream majority in the Muslim world (and indeed in many other parts of the world), this answer is not satisfactory. Although the Muslim world expresses many common grievances, do extremists and moderates differ in attitudes about the West?

Focusing on the attitudes of those with radical views and comparing them with the moderate majority results in surprising findings. When asked what they admired most about the West, both extremists and moderates had the identical top three spontaneous responses: (1) technology; (2) the West’s value system, hard work, self-responsibility, rule of law, and cooperation; and (3) its fair political systems, democracy, respect for human rights, freedom of speech, and gender equality. A significantly higher percent of potential extremists than moderates (50 percent versus 35 percent) believe that “moving towards greater governmental democracy” will foster progress in the Arab/Muslim world. Potential extremists believe even more strongly than moderates (58 percent versus 45 percent) that Arab/Muslim nations are eager to have better relations with the West. Finally, no significant difference exists between the percentage of potential extremists and moderates who said “better relations with the West concerns me a lot.”

While many believe anti-Americanism is tied to a basic hatred of the West and deep West-East religious and cultural differences, the data above contradicts these views. In addition, Muslim assessments of individual Western countries demonstrate that Muslim views do not paint all Western countries with the same brush.

Unfavorable opinions of the United States or the United Kingdom do not preclude favorable attitudes towards other Western countries like France or Germany. Data shows that while moderates have very unfavorable opinions of the United States (42 percent) and Great Britain (34 percent), unfavorable opinions of France (15 percent) and Germany (13 percent) were far less and in fact comparable to the percent of Muslims who viewed Pakistan or Turkey unfavorably (both at 12 percent).

What creates unfavorable attitudes towards the United States? Belief that the United States is serious about democracy in Muslim countries has long been undermined by what is perceived as the United States’ “double standard” in promoting democracy. Key factors of this perception include a long track record of supporting authoritarian regimes in the Arab and Muslim world while not promoting democracy there as it did elsewhere after the fall of the Soviet Union. Then, when weapons of mass destruction were not to be found in Iraq, the Bush administration boldly declared that the US-led invasion and the toppling of Saddam Hussein were intended to bring democracy to Iraq as part of a broader policy of promoting democracy in the Middle East. In a major policy address, Ambassador Richard Haass, a senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration, acknowledged that both Democratic and Republican administrations had practiced what he termed “Democratic Exceptionalism” in the Muslim world: subordinating democracy to other national interests such as accessing oil, containing the Soviet Union, and grappling with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

While the spread of democracy has been the stated goal of the United States, majorities in every nation surveyed by Gallup do not believe that the United States was serious about the establishment of democratic systems in the region. For example, only 24 percent in Egypt and Jordan and only 16 percent in Turkey agreed that the United States was serious about establishing democratic systems. The largest groups in agreement are in Lebanon and Indonesia at 38 percent; but even there, 58 percent of Lebanese and 52 percent of Indonesians disagreed with the statement.

How can this be? Responses to another question shed some light. When respondents were asked if they believe the United States will allow people in the region to fashion their own political future as they see fit without direct US influence, only 22 percent of Jordanians agreed, and as low as 16 percent of Pakistanis. Yet, while saying that the United States is not serious about self-determination and democracy in the Muslim world, many respondents say the thing they admire most about the West is political liberty and freedom of speech. Large percentages also associate a fair judicial system and “citizens enjoying many liberties” with Western societies while critiquing their own societies. Lack of political freedom was what they admired least about the Islamic/Arab world.

Muslim perceptions of the US role and response to the Israeli wars in Gaza and Lebanon must also be seen within the broad context of the Arab and Muslim world. From North Africa to Southeast Asia, the Gallup World Poll indicates an overwhelming majority of people (91-95 percent) do not believe that the United States is trustworthy, friendly, or treats other countries respectfully, nor that it cares about human rights in other countries (80 percent). Outside of Iraq, over 90 percent of Muslims agreed that the invasion of Iraq has done more harm than good. The Bush administration recognized that the war on global terrorism has come to be equated in the minds of many Muslims (and others) with a war against Islam and the Muslim world and reemphasized the importance of public diplomacy. The administration appointed a senior Bush confidante, Karen Hughes, as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, and spoke of a war of ideas. However, public diplomacy is more than public relations. It is about acting consistently with the words one speaks – and so a return to foreign policy.

The administration’s responses in Gaza and in Lebanon undercut both the president’s credibility and the war on terrorism. The United States turned a blind eye to Israel’s launching of two wars in which civilians were the primary casualties. The United States failed to support UN mediation in the face of clear violations of international law, refused to heed calls for a ceasefire and UN intervention, and continued to provide military assistance to Israel. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s criticism of the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon as an “excessive use of force” was countered the next day by the New York Times headline United States speeds up bomb delivery for the Israelis.

America’s unconditional support of Israel cast it in the eyes of many as a partner, not simply in military action against HAMAS or Hizbollah militants, but in a war against the democratically elected Palestinian government in Gaza and the government of Lebanon, a long-time US ally. The primary victims in Gaza and Lebanon were hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, not terrorists. In Lebanon, more than 500 were killed, 2,000 wounded, and 800,000 displaced. Israeli’s military destroyed the civilian infrastructures of both Gaza and Lebanon. International organizations like the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have criticized Israel for violating international law. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch has specifically cited the use of collective punishment and war crimes. The regional blowback from the approach that the United States has taken will be enormous and enduring.

The Bush administration’s promotion of democracy and the Middle East Peace Process are in critical condition. The United States remains mired in Iraq and Afghanistan with no clear “success” stories in sight. The situation has been compounded by the US failure to respect the democratic choice of Palestinians, whatever its reservations, and then its passive and active compliance with Israel’s wars in Gaza and Lebanon. HAMAS and Hizbollah have become symbols of resistance, enjoying a level of support that would have been unimagined in the past throughout much of the Muslim world. At the same time, many US allies in the Arab/Muslim world increasingly use the threat of extreme Islamists and the war against terrorism as excuses for increased authoritarianism and repression, trading their support for United States backing down on its democratic agenda. The unintended consequences of uncritical US support for Israel’s extended war have played right into the hands of the Bin Ladens of the world.

A critical challenge for US policymakers will continue to be the need to distinguish between mainstream and extremists groups and to work with democratically-elected Islamists. US administrations have often said that they distinguish between mainstream and extremist groups. However, more often that not, they have looked the other way when autocratic rulers in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere have intimidated and suppressed mainstream Islamist groups or attempted to reverse their successes in elections in the past several decades.

In the early 1990s, the Algerian military intervened to deny the Islamic Salvation Front its victory in parliamentary elections. Both the Algerian and Tunisian governments arrested and tried the Islamic party militarily, and were denounced by the international community. More recently, Egyptian elections were marred by attempts to silence opposition candidates, including the Muslim Brotherhood. In the post-election period, the Mubarak government, a long-time US ally, imprisoned the only opposition presidential candidate and cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian press. Despite its commitment to democratization, the Bush administration has been virtually silent.

A more recent and complex challenge is dealing with resistance movements like HAMAS and Hizbollah. Both are elected political parties with a popular base. At the same time they are resistance movements whose militias have fought Israeli occupation and whom Israel, the United States, and Europe have labeled as terrorist organizations. There are established precedents for dealing with such groups, such as the ANC in South Africa and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA in Ireland, groups with which we’ve had to come to terms. The United States and others need to deal with the democratically elected officials, while also strongly condemning any acts of terrorism by their militias. Diplomacy, economic incentives, and sanctions should be emphasized, with military action taken as a last resort. However, overuse of economic sanctions by the Clinton and Bush administrations has reduced US negotiating leverage with countries like Iran and Sudan.

Equally difficult, the United States, while affirming its enduring support for Israel’s existence and security, must clearly demonstrate that this support has clear limits. The United States should condemn Israel’s disproportionate use of force, collective punishment, and other violations of international law. Finally, most fundamental and important is the recognition that widespread anti-Americanism among mainstream Muslims and Islamists results from what the United States does-its policies and actions-not its way of life, culture, or religion.

(Source: Harvard International Review. John L. Esposito is University Professor of Religion & International Affairs and Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.)

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TURKEY – The rise of a regional hegemon


For the last five years I have been spending my summer vacations in Dalyan, one of the most beautiful towns on the Mediterranean coast. I usually read a book I hadn’t the chance to during the busy months leading up to the summer.

The summer of 2003 was no different. That year my poolside reading was a book called “Strategic Depth.” It was written by Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, an academic-turned-advisor to the Turkish prime minister. At first it appeared to be loaded with strategic terminology and lengthy discussions on Turkey’s foreign policy. Soon I came to realize that a true treasure lay in my hand and I devoured the book within a couple of days. Little did I know then that the book I was reading was pretty much the blueprint for a new Turkey foreign policy that would transform Turkey from its Cold War satellite status into a regional powerhouse. It provided a significant contribution to the intellectual underpinnings of Turkey’s new foreign policy.

Listening to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Turkish Parliament last week truly signified the zenith of Turkey’s rising status and weight in the Middle East. Within a short time span of just five years, Turkish foreign policy has been steered successfully into its current position. Gone is the third-world status of the Cold War era. Turkey is negotiating with the European Union and is consistently developing as a regional energy hub. What is at hand is a rising hegemon with unique relations with Israel, Palestine, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Not long ago, last year in fact, some Turkish analysts snubbed the current government’s policies in the Middle East. Turkey was only “pretending to be a player in this region,” said these pundits, with some scorn. However, Turkey’s role in Lebanon, its proactivism vis-‚àö‚Ć-vis the Israeli-Pakistani meeting, its constructive role in Iraq as well as its influence over Syria are only some indications of Turkey’s changing role in this volatile region. More importantly, how Middle Easterners perceive Turkey has changed radically over the last five years. Most Arabs acknowledge Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s principled stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also admired Turkey’s unwillingness to allow US troops to invade Iraq from the north. A good number of Middle Easterners follow Turkey’s EU drive with great interest. Turkish op-eds are frequently translated into Arabic. For most Middle Easterners İstanbul and Ankara are European cities. Turkey is growing economically, increasingly liberalizing its body politic and is setting a unique example for most Muslim countries in the region. In Turkey Islam and democracy, secularism and pluralism, coexist successfully. True, there is still a distance to be traveled, particularly on how to respond to the needs of citizens of non-Turkish descent. That said, the 1.2 million Kurds who voted for the Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) in 2002 this time voted for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the July 22 election, clearly preferring a national political party over the Democratic Society Party’s (DTP) narrow identity politics.

Although there are still some who either are blind to the monumental transformation this country has undergone, Turkey has become a regional hegemon. This is more evident when one travels abroad and experiences first hand how Turkey is discussed. The Turkish economy, its armed forces, its democracy and its dynamism are unrivalled in the region. Turkey’s European vocation, though complicated, still is an important catalyst for further change. Turkey’s growing self-confidence will eventually be shared by most Turks, despite the ideological confrontation pervading our political life. The numerous ghosts the conservative state elite is attempting to revive will not be able to subvert this country’s growing eminence. Despite strong domestic resistance, Turkey is consolidating its democracy. On the foreign policy front Turkey is increasingly making full use of its strategic depth in all directions. Friends and foes had best take note.

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Democracy as a platform for effective education and lasting peace

by YUNUS ‚àö√°ENGEL*

The phrase “use it or lose it” is applicable to the brain as well as to the muscles. When an athlete stops exercising, he starts losing muscle and his athletic abilities start to decline.

When a person starts eating less, his stomach gets smaller. Likewise, when a person stops thinking, the intellectual abilities of that person will begin to diminish. Considering that brain power is one of our greatest resources, true poverty is the lack of adequate brain power rather than the lack of material goods. Genuinely poor countries are those that are poor in intellectual resources and imagination, poor in self-confidence and initiative, and poor in hope and future outlook. The starting point to cure these ills of poverty is democracy equipped with the highest level of freedom. In oppressive societies, people begin to think alike. As Walter Lippman puts it, “When all think alike, no one is thinking very much.” Harry Fosdick adds, “Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”

Democracy may have its faults, but it sets the stage for the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Oppression, on the other hand, is an inhuman system and serves the base interests of the few at the expense of the common good. Today many oppressive regimes carry the label of democracy or republicanism in their names. But truth does not change simply by switching names. Karl Popper cites a clear distinction: “I personally call the type of government which can be removed without violence ‚Äö√Ñ√≤democracy’ and the other, ‚Äö√Ñ√≤tyranny.'” Oppressive regimes are easily recognized by the presence of disproportionately privileged individuals, which is an indication of injustice and spreads hatred and animosity. Democracy is the best assurance against injustice. As Reinhold Niebuhr puts it, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

Democracy and religion: friends, not foes

The presence of deeply rooted prejudices and misunderstandings — even in this age of information — is truly unfortunate for humanity. Many people, for instance, religious or not, still believe that religiosity and democracy are opposites of one another and cannot coexist. Similarly, many believe that a democratic government is incompatible with Islam and that Islam, therefore, poses a potential threat to democratic regimes. This cannot be further from the truth.

Democracy is the regime most compatible with Islam. The Khulefa al-Rashidun (rightly guided Caliphs, the first four leaders of the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet Mohammed), who were elected by the free will of the Muslim community, were presidents in the real sense. This application of the principle of democracy in the purest and earliest era of Islam is clear proof that the form of government most suitable to the essence of Islam is democracy, not monarchy. The early Muslims’ determination of their presidents by election while monarchism was the rule all over the world and their decision to choose leaders that were not the kin of the Prophet is highly significant. It shows that the companions of the Prophet, known for being the most pious of Muslims, were true democrats.

The essence of real democracy is freedom in its broadest sense, starting with the freedom of expression and practicing free consultation in decision making, rather than yielding to the imposition of a person or a group. Indeed, republicanism is a regime of consultation with the public. The Quranic verses “they conduct their affairs by mutual consultation” and “consult with them in your affairs” can be cited as proof that democracy is the form of government most compatible with Islam. The Prophet of Islam interpreted these verses in the best way possible during his lifetime by consulting with the prominent members of the community and following the majority opinion, even when it is against his own opinions (as happened with the famous decision regarding the Battle of Uhud).

A scholarly view on freedom, democracy, politics and Islam

The prominent and influential Turkish Islamic scholar Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1878-1960) reconciled modern values, believed to be contrary to religion by many, with religion. He considered freedom more important than even physical sustenance and he saw freedom of conscience and religion as the most basic of human rights. He saw the separation of religion and state as a reality of the times and he made positive action and the maintenance of peace and order a cornerstone of his movement. A careful study of his Risale-i Nur (The Treatise of Light) clearly shows that Nursi, while being deeply pious, was a strong advocate of freedom, democracy and republicanism with the utmost respect for the freedom of religion and conscience.

Nursi states that all forms of leadership, including presidency, are a type of servanthood, and he bases this notion on a hadith (a saying of the Prophet) that he views as a “constitution of Islam”: “The chief of a nation is the one who serves its citizens.” About this hadith, he writes: “Public officials and administrators are not chiefs, but servants to people. Democracy and freedom of conscience can be based on this fundamental law of Islam.” While many Muslim thinkers have had a difficult time trying to reconcile Islam and democracy, Nursi based freedom of conscience this fundamental law of Islam and presented democracy and freedom of conscious among basic human rights and freedoms.

Using the term constitutionalism in the sense of republicanism, Nursi describes it as follows: “Constitutionalism is the sovereignty of the people. That is, the elected representatives, who are the embodied form of public opinion, rule and the government is a service provider and, thus, a servant.” He continues: “The essence of constitutionalism is that power lies with the law, and the individual is nothing. The basis of despotism is that power lies with an individual, who can subject the law to his will — the defeat of justice by power.” Nursi states that republicanism turns society into true humanity by elevating it from animalism and that this is the key to progress.

Nursi stresses that Islam has no connection with the bigotry that comes from ignorance and lack of reasoning: “What is appropriate to Islam is strength of piety, which is fortitude, perseverance and adhering to righteousness. It is not at all the bigotry that stems from a lack of reasoning.”

Nursi wrote: “Despotism is oppression. It is dealing with others in an arbitrary fashion. It is compulsion relying on force. It is the opinion of one person. It provides extremely favorable ground for exploitation. It is the basis of tyranny. It annihilates humanity. It is despotism that reduces man to the most abject valleys of abasement, has caused the Islamic world to sink into misery and degradation, which arouses animosity and malice, has poisoned Islam ‚Äö√Ѭ∂ and has caused endless conflict within Islam.” He even went further, naming oppression a “fatal poison.” Associating Islam with despotism is the overturning of the truth.

It can be said that governments based on reason, science and consultation within the space of freedom of speech and expression and which have the backing of the general public are fully compatible with Islam so long as basic codes of morality, such as justice and virtue, are observed. The notion that Islam is not compatible with democracy is a complete fallacy, and the fact that the leadership during the earliest days of Islam was a republic based on public opinion is evidence for this. Moreover, public opinion has always been a valid source of decision-making in Islam.

Nursi presents freedom of conscience as the most fundamental right and freedom for the people of our time. He also views the secularism of governments, through the separation of religious affairs and state affairs, as a natural outcome of the freedom of conscience, which prohibits any compulsion or use of force in religion.

Nursi stresses that the time for compulsion, intimidation and deception is over and points out that any social change instituted by these means is bound to be limited, superficial and temporary. He says that the freedom of conscience guaranteed by true secularism is one of the most fundamental principles of this age of freedom. For him, the violation of the freedom of conscience –or even the neglect of its importance — is an insult to humanity.

Nursi likened religious belief to a diamond and politics and worldly matters to pieces of glass. Therefore, he views the use of religion as a political tool as an injustice and insult to religion and as an error that lowers its value in the eyes of the people. In this age, when all faces are turned to worldly matters and the earthly life is placed in the center while the afterlife is ignored, it is unavoidable for religion to be lowered to a political matter and to be used as a tool if it is mixed with politics. Under current conditions, religion and politics are a deadly combination. Such a combination will result in the politicization of religion and not the spiritualization of politics. Nursi’s predictions have clearly come true. For example, the phrase that we have grown tired of hearing in the media is “political Islam,” not “Islamic politics.” Service of Islam has been confused with the destruction of Islam and the confusion still continues. It is as though Islam, which belongs to all humanity, has been taken hostage by a political faction.

The search for peace

Justice breeds contentment and trust, which lead to peace, while injustice generates resentment and distrust, which lead to unrest. Mutual assistance enhances love and respect among people and communities, while greed and selfishness incite jealousy and hatred. Dialogue sets the stage for mutual respect and understanding, while the lack of dialogue paves the way for misinformation and suspicion, giving rise to unfounded fears. To fight against malaria, attention should be turned from mosquitoes to the swamps that breed them. The breeding swamps for the threats that face humanity and jeopardize our future are injustice, indifference and ignorance. These swamps can be dried by justice, compassion and understanding. The world is paying a very high price for its atmosphere of distrust, budgeting over $1 trillion each year for defense against perceived threats. If each country set aside just 1 percent of their defense budgets for peaceful projects to fight global injustice, ignorance and poverty, soon they would be surprised to see that they no longer need the remaining 99 percent for military training and weaponry.

Now is the time to look deeply into the prevailing realities and values of the times and to unveil the face of Islam that is in agreement with these values. Islam is a religion of reason, not bigotry, and it can easily be observed in harmony with modern values. The modern platform of intellect, science and fairness should be viewed as a firm ground for the religion, rather than a threat. In this age of freedom, those who observe individual rights and freedoms, seek virtue and high moral values and embrace the dominant values of the age, such as justice, science, mutual consultation and public opinion, will ascend, while those who ignore the changing times and rely oppression and despotism will descend.

Those who resort to violence to further their cause should pay attention to the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.” The ones who think they can fight violence with violence should listen to William Hazlitt, “Those are ever the most ready to do justice to others, who feel that the world has done them justice.” Benjamin Franklin has a word of warning to the security-crazed: “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” I end these reflections with a note from Dwight Eisenhower: “Although force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”

*Professor Yunus ‚àö√°engel is an instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno

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Islam in Germany
Learning from Ankara

Lale Akgün

Islam is just as compatible with democracy as any other religion. But if there is to be a modern Islam in Germany, support must be offered to liberal Muslims. A commentary Lale Akgün

| It is true that the Muslim intellectual landscape in Germany is somewhat dry – a sandy desert in which there is little to be found except for the stony outcrops of the Muslim religious associations. Islam in Germany and the rest of the world has a considerable image problem, and not just since the terror attacks in New York.

And it is true: we need more than ever here voices which speak for a open-minded, liberal and contemporary Islam, an Islam which gives answers to the questions provoked by our lives here in Germany. European Islam needs a reformation.

The lack of powerful liberal Muslim voices

But critics of Islam are wrong when they claim that Islam and democracy are fundamentally incompatible. It is frustrating that, for some times now, these black-and-white thinkers have been enjoying such a positive reception in the public debate.

They evoke prejudices which we thought dead and gone, and they swim on a wave of fear that Germany will be taken over by foreigners. It is for this reason – but also because of the lack of powerful liberal Muslim voices in this country – that objective arguments have a tough time in the debate on Islam and democracy. So where does Islam stand today? Are Muslim really worse democrats?

Islam can be just as well or badly integrated with a democratic way of life as any other religion. There is a wide variety of Muslim tendencies from Morocco to Indonesia, and from the United States to Germany.

Turkey is democratic and Muslim, Saudi-Arabia is Muslim and undemocratic – generalisations won’t do, so I’ll restrict myself to Europe and Germany.

And here Islam is not up to date. What we need is an Islam which provides answers to the questions of here and now, an Islam which is independently organised, and which is measured against European and German laws – the same requirements as one would have of any other religion.

The conservative image of Islam in Germany

What we have instead is an Islam whose image in Germany is determined by the Muslim associations and their officials, who present conservative, sometimes fundamentalist positions and are dependent on authorities outside the county.

The largest Muslim association, DITIB, is financially and organisationally closely linked to “Diyanet”, the religious authority of the Turkish state. It brings imams to Germany from Turkey. They seldom speak good German and they are rarely adequately aware of the way we live.

So how can these preachers help the Muslims who live here to deal with the problems they face, if they scarcely know anything about Germany? Other associations have close links to Saudi-Arabia or the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Both represent a kind of “stone-age Islam” which has no answers to the questions of Muslims living here. These Muslims are having to deal with both the good sides and the bad sides of a globalised world, and a society which is both German and European. We need strong voices which can provide answers which relate to life as it is lived.

No modern interpretation of the faith

But in Germany and Europe, Islam has not had the opportunity to develop a modern interpretation of the faith. There are still too few chairs of Islamic religious education, there is virtually no qualified teaching of Islam in schools and there are no imams being trained here.

The Muslim world itself can show us what the concept of an enlightened Islam could look like. At the University of Ankara, a young team is researching Muslim theology using historical-critical methods. In their view, the Suras of the Koran can only be understood in their historical context, and cannot be applied literally to the present day.

How the texts are applied to the present is a matter for the individual conscience. If one wants to do it properly, one has to call upon the Hadith, the traditions about the sayings of the Mohammed.

The Hadith contains explanations by the Prophet by which one can understand the ethical content of the Suras of the Koran and apply it to the present.

The “Ankara School”

Everyone is entitled to carry out such interpretation in this way. One requires a teacher only if one is unable to do it oneself. Of course, this approach to the Koran has not made its way into every last Turkish living room in Germany.

But that is exactly why we would be well advised to support those who present liberal views, instead of only ever shaking hands with those who represent the Islam of the past.

But one thing should not be forgotten. It is not enough only to support the liberal intellectual Muslim scene. We have urgently to cease to treat all those “John-Doe-Muslims”, the large silent majority, who just want to live and work quietly in Germany, as if they too were all fundamentalists and reactionaries.

The opposite of integrationhe “Ankara School”

How should a Muslim feel when he is brushing his teeth in the morning, and hears on the radio that everyone who converts to Islam in future will be checked by the secret services? Anyone who is treated like that feels like an outsider and will escape back into his shell. That is the way to achieve the opposite of integration.

The aggressive criticism of Islam and the oft-repeated but still incorrect claim that democracy and Islam are like fire and water have little to do with the reality lived by real people in German villages and cities.

It is only by living together that it becomes clear that a Turkish doctor has more in common with a German doctor than with a Turkish construction worker.

The gulfs which divide our society run along issues like education, prosperity and the chance to make one’s way. And it will only be when all people have the same chances to participate in society and to rise within it, that these gulfs will cease to exist.

A sense of belonging, which is so important in binding a society together, can only be developed on the basis of our common constitutional values. The philosopher Jürgen Habermas once used the term “constitutional patriotism” to describe this loyalty.

According to the constitution, every citizen, whether Muslim, Christian or atheist, has the same political, social and economic rights and duties as everybody else. That requires the acceptance of our secular constitution, according to which religion and state are separated and the state has a monopoly of power.

Within these limits set by the state, and under its protection, religions may do everything they wish to realise their potential to ensure peace and integration.

That is the position in a secular democracy from which religion will be able to grow and flourish and benefit humanity. And that too is the position in a secular democracy from which Islam will be able to grow and flourish and benefit humanity.

Lale Akgün ¬¨¬© Lale Akgün/ 2007
Translated from the German by Michael Lawton

Lale Akgün was born in 1953 and is a member of the German parliament for the Social Democrats (SPD). She is on the parliamentary committee for European affairs and is the SPD parliamentary spokesperson on Islamic issues and deputy spokesperson on European policy.

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Indonesia’s blend of democracy and Islam wins award

Mark Forbes, Bali
November 13, 2007

INDONESIA has been hailed for proving that Islam and democracy can co-exist by establishing and maintaining the only functioning democracy in South-East Asia.

Indonesia’s people and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono were yesterday awarded the Democracy Medal by the International Association of Political Consultants. Before delegates in Bali and most of his cabinet, Dr Yudhoyono said Indonesia had transformed itself in less than a decade and would never return to repression.

Although sceptics had claimed Indonesia would splinter or radicalise, “the heart and soul of Indonesia remains moderate and progressive”, Dr Yudhoyono said. “In Indonesia democracy, Islam and modernity go hand in hand.

“Democracy in Indonesia has reached a point of no return,” said the nation’s first directly elected president.

The president of the association, Ben Goddard, said: “Indonesia is a shining example of hope”. The most populous Muslim nation had demonstrated that Islamic values were compatible with democracy, he said.

The association’s Asian head, Pri Sulisto, said Indonesia’s success in implementing democracy “serves as an example for Asian countries, most of which are still ruled by iron-fist regimes”.

Political scientist and author Kevin Evans said Indonesia was, along with India, the only truly functional democracy in Asia.

The award highlighted the significant progress made since the dictator Soeharto was forced to resign in 1998, Mr Evans said.

Now, for the first time, every politician is directly elected, he said. “The nation is also passing the terrorism test without winding back human rights and free speech.”

The Indonesian people, through demonstrations, brought about the collapse of the Soeharto regime and in 2004 Indonesia held the largest single-day election in the world, Mr Goddard said.

From being ruled by corrupt elites, the “pyramid of power” had been “turned upside down” by bringing democracy to the people, Dr Yudhoyono said. “Indonesia has proved that no matter the size of the population, the difficult geography, ethnic diversity political complexity or historical background, democracy can come and grow.”

It is the first time in 25 years the award from political consultants and advisers across the globe has been granted to a nation. Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Fake Prada fuels Senegal’s Muslim brotherhood

By Nick Tattersall
Sunday, November 11, 2007

TOUBA, Senegal (Reuters) – For Senegalese street sellers from Manhattan to the Vatican, selling fake Prada purses and Chinese-made Gucci sunglasses is as much a question of religious devotion as of making a quick buck.

Many traders are members of the Mouride brotherhood, a branch of African Sufi Islam which has become Senegal’s most influential religious, political and economic force.

A unique mix of militant capitalism and moderate Islam, its central doctrine of hard work as a means to paradise has led thousands to leave Senegal’s sunny shores with one goal — to earn money and send it back to the holy city of Touba.

“Work and don’t complain much. That’s the only doctrine they have,” said Moustapha Diao, 53, a Mouride born in Touba who now lives in Harlem, the heart of New York’s Senegalese community.

Diao used to peddle goods on Manhattan streets at a mark-up after buying them cheaply in Chinatown.

“The only network they have is workaholic,” he said.

Remittances from Mourides abroad have helped the brotherhood grow exponentially since it was founded in the 1880s by Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, a Muslim mystic, poet and pacifist sent into exile by French colonial authorities who feared his influence.

Known as “little Mecca,” the holy city of Touba has grown from a tiny village into the hub of a global network of small businessmen whose trading acumen means the latest gadgets are available in Senegal as quickly as anywhere in the world.

“My conviction is that if it weren’t for Ahmadou Bamba, I wouldn’t have all this,” said Djily Diop, 22, among fridges, televisions and satellite receivers in his shop in Touba.


Diop had wanted to finish school and maybe go to university. But in a country with tens of thousands of graduates unable to find work, his parents encouraged him to go to a Daara, a Koranic school run by a Marabout or religious teacher.

Unemployment is so high that many young Senegalese have risked their lives taking unseaworthy, overcrowded fishing boats to Spain’s Canary Islands in the hope of finding work in Europe.

“My classmates went to university for three years and now they are unemployed. My parents knew (a Daara) was the best route,” Diop said, dressed in gold-coloured robes.

His access to the Mouride network has enabled him to set up a business and will support him wherever he travels.

“If I go to New York, even if it is someone who does not know me, when I say I am a Mouride he will take me as his brother and share with me,” he said.

“What we have in common — the Marabout — is more important than family ties, community ties, even the fact we are from the same country.”

Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba’s teachings — notably “pray as if you will die tomorrow and work as if you will live forever” — are learned from an early age by many of his followers.

In the peanut fields around Touba, given by the state to the brotherhood’s current caliph Serigne Saliou Mbacke, children as young as 10 tend the crops, part of a Daara education based on hard physical labour as well as religious texts.

“I learned never to get angry. There were people who beat me but it taught me to be strong,” said Cheikh Beye, a Daara-educated trader who sells goods sent by his brother from Dubai and China. “Mourides want to succeed whatever the cost.”


The brotherhood dominates life in much of Senegal.

Homages like “Djeuredjef Serigne Saliou” — thank you Serigne Saliou — are painted all over brightly coloured buses and taxis. Bedroom walls and pendants carry images of the movement’s Marabouts.

Some critics argue the Mourides’ reverence for Bamba and the Marabouts eclipses their respect for the Prophet Mohammad, one of the pillars of Islam, and say the brotherhood has become too powerful a political force in Senegal.

Bamba’s followers emphasize the tolerant nature of his teachings. They say support from Mouride leaders helped keep independence president Leopold Sedar Senghor, a Christian in a predominantly Muslim country, in power.

They regard their readiness to engage other cultures as central to the brotherhood’s global success.

“Here, we do not know this fierce form of Islam in which you have to kill others because they do not believe the same as you, because they are Christian or Jew,” said Cheikh Bethio, one of the most influential of the movement’s living Marabouts.

“That is why it hurts us when the West confuses Islam and terrorism,” he told Reuters as his followers knelt around him in a courtyard near Touba, his brand new Hummer off-roader parked in the shade of a tamarind tree.

(Additional reporting by Edith Honan in New York and Silvia Aloisi in Rome; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Sara Ledwith)

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A Muslim belongs in the Cabinet
Muslims are uniquely qualified to help deter Islamist threats.

By Mansoor Ijaz
November 27, 2007 –

LAS VEGAS – Mitt Romney tells good jokes. I had the chance to hear a few of them this month at a political fundraiser in Las Vegas, where the Republican presidential contender gave his audience a few good chuckles before going into his domestic and foreign policy agenda.

His platform seemed sound enough analytically – until he demonstrated an aggravating hypocrisy in his reply to my query on one of his key foreign policy positions. It’s a stance that should give pause to all Americans who are considering voting for him.

I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that “jihadism” is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, “‚Äö√Ѭ∂based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”

Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead. Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they’re too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America’s Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats.

I am an American-born citizen of the Islamic faith. I stand as a living symbol of all that America offers in its system of liberty, justice, and, most of all, opportunity. I am also proud of my Muslim heritage and beliefs, and, true to the American work ethic, I have worked tirelessly to raise up the voices of disaffected Muslims everywhere and help them, too, share in America’s promise.

As a private American citizen, I negotiated Sudan’s offer of counterterrorism assistance to the Clinton administration in 1997 when the US government had no relations with that country’s leaders. I felt there was still an opportunity at that time to unravel the metastasizing terror network being organized by Osama bin Laden and his followers.

I later initiated dialogue with an Arab counterintelligence official in the summer of 2000 that could have resulted in the extradition of Mr. bin Laden to a friendly Muslim country and neutralized Al Qaeda’s pre-9/11 planning. That summer, I also helped negotiate a cease fire in Kashmir, which brought peace to a region that has known constant conflict since partition between India and Pakistan.

In early 2001, I notified national security adviser Stephen Hadley that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and militant Islamists, some of whom I had worked with during the cease-fire campaign, were actively engaged in the sale and distribution of Pakistan’s nuclear technology. Mr. Hadley asked me to make recommendations on how these proliferation activities could be stopped. I did so, mindful that, as an American Muslim whose father was a pioneer in Pakistan’s nuclear program, I risked harming the name of my family. But for the sake of my duty as a citizen, I helped the US government expose the illicit transfers. A.Q. Khan, who headed Pakistan’s nuclear program, was arrested a few years later.

The point I make in enumerating these efforts to contribute to US national interests is that Americans of the Islamic faith – even when they have no formal role in government – are committed to helping our nation defend its interests. And we have done so. Why, then, should we be excluded from holding positions that carry the highest levels of responsibility?

Imagine how a qualified American Muslim FBI director, sensitized to the genuine concerns among Arab and Muslim communities about civil rights violations, would be able to ensure that FBI actions and policies target the real bad guys, not communities as a whole. Imagine how an American Muslim CIA director or defense secretary whose understanding of cultural differences in places that breed Islamist violence would ensure that intelligence was not biased by bigotry or lack of understanding and that defense strategies were constructed on data acquired from authentic sources.

If Romney wins the White House, he will probably rely on those who know Mormonism best to help him explain it to those who distrust it most. It is time for him to reconsider his views on who should help America craft the right policies that attack the scourge on civilization that Islamic extremism has become.

He, and other candidates for the presidency from both political parties, should actively begin searching for American Muslims and Arab Americans who can serve in primary decisionmaking cabinet level posts. To do otherwise is to risk promulgating policies that once again put the US straight in the sights of the terrorists who seek to bring America down.

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Islamic Academy in Virginia on Defensive

The Associated Press
Sunday, November 25, 2007; 7:14 AM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Its most virulent critics have dubbed it “Terror High,” and 12 U.S. senators and a federal commission want to shut it down.

The teachers, administrators and some 900 students at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax County have heard the allegations for years _ after the Sept. 11 attacks and then a few years later when a class valedictorian admitted he had joined al-Qaida.

Now the school is on the defensive again, with a report issued last month by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom saying the academy should be closed, pending a review of its curriculum and textbooks.

Abdalla al-Shabnan, the school’s director general, says criticism of the school is based not on evidence, but on preconceived notions of the Saudi educational system.

The school, serving grades K-12 on campuses in Fairfax and Alexandria, receives financial support from the Saudi government, and its textbooks are based on Saudi curriculum. Critics say the Saudis propagate a severe version of Islam in their schools.

But al-Shabnan said the school significantly modified those textbooks to remove passages deemed intolerant of other religions. Among the changes, officials removed from teachers’ versions of first-grade textbooks an excerpt instructing teachers to explain “that all religions, other than Islam, are false, including that of the Jews, Christians and all others.”

At an open house earlier this month in which the school invited reporters to tour the school and meet students and faculty, al-Shabnan seemed weary of the criticism.

“I didn’t think we’d have to do this,” he said of the open house. “Our neighbors know us. They know the job we are doing.”

Indeed, many people familiar with the school say the accusations are unfounded. Fairfax County Supervisor Gerald Hyland, whose district includes the academy, has defended it and arranged for the county to review the textbooks to put questions to rest. That review is under way. The academy’s Alexandria campus is leased from Fairfax County.

Schools that regularly compete against the academy in interscholastic sports _ many of them small, private Christian schools _ are among the academy’s strongest defenders.

Robert Mead, soccer coach at Bryant Alternative High School, a public school in the Alexandria section of Fairfax county, said the academy’s reputation has been unfairly marred by people who haven’t even bothered to visit the school.

“We’ve never had one altercation” with the academy’s players on the soccer field, Mead said. “My guys are hostile. Their guys keep fights from breaking out.”

The academy opened in 1984 and stayed out of the spotlight until the Sept. 11 attacks. Criticisms were revived in 2005, when a former class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged with joining al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia. He was convicted on several charges, including plotting to assassinate President Bush, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Most recently, the religious freedom commission _ an independent federal agency created by Congress _ issued its report, saying it was rebuffed in its efforts to obtain textbooks to verify claims they had been reformed.

The commission recommended that the academy be shut down until it could review the textbooks to ensure they do not promote intolerance.

Since the commission’s report, the academy has given copies of its books to the Saudi embassy, which then provided them to the State Department. The commission is waiting to get the books from the State Department.

On Nov. 15, a dozen U.S. senators, including Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., wrote a letter to the State Department urging it to act on the commission’s recommendations. And on Tuesday, Reps. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Steve Israel, D-N.Y., introduced legislation to write the commission’s recommendations regarding the academy into law.

Michael Cromartie, the commission’s chairman, said he does not question the character of the student body or the faculty, most of whom are Christian. The commission is focused specifically on the textbooks, and has legitimate concerns given the problems that have been endemic in the Saudi curriculum, he said.

“It’s not about whether the students are civil to their opponents on a ball field. It’s about the textbooks,” he said.

At the open house, seniors said they worry that news accounts will hurt their college applications. Most students said they were shocked that the government panel had recommended closing the school.

Omar Talib, a senior, said the school caters to students from across the Muslim world, not just Saudis. It makes no judgments on other religions or against Shiite Islam, as some critics have contended.

“I have four children at this school. I’ve never heard them say ‘Mom, today we learned we should kill the Jews,'” said Malika Chughtai of Vienna. “If I heard that kind of talk, I would not have them here.”

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Vatican to accept Muslim dialogue call soon

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Vatican plans to respond positively and very soon to an appeal by Muslim scholars for an unprecedented dialogue between Christianity and Islam, Roman Catholic cardinals and Islam experts say.

The Catholic Church, representing more than half the world’s two billion Christians, has not yet officially answered the call made last month and hailed by most other Christian leaders.

But cardinals in Rome and Vatican officials told Reuters many Catholic leaders wanted a serious dialogue with Muslim leaders to help overcome misunderstandings.

“The Vatican will respond positively, and quite soon,” said Dakar Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, whose homeland Senegal is 95 percent Muslim. “We will not miss this opportunity.”

“Watch out for this week,” said a veteran cardinal, who asked not to be named. The prelates were in Rome for a ceremony to install 23 new members of the College of Cardinals.

Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois said a serious and broad Christian-Muslim dialogue would help inter-faith relations in France, which has Europe’s largest Muslim minority.

“This is a significant step,” he said of the Muslim appeal. “I remember that only a few years ago, we regretted there weren’t any Muslim leaders who could take a public stand, for example against terrorism.”

“This is an opportunity the Lord has given us and put into the hearts of people to work together,” Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias said. “All of us (cardinals) are very happy.”


The appeal in October by 138 scholars representing a large majority of Islamic views invited Christian leaders to a dialogue based on their common belief that love of God and neighbour is the cornerstone of their religions.

It was unprecedented because Islam has no central authority to speak for all believers, especially not the silent majority that does not agree with radicals whose preaching of jihad and rejection of other faiths often dominates the headlines.

Sarr said the Vatican planned to invite a small group of the scholars who signed the appeal for exploratory talks on the way forward. “There will be a meeting with them to clarify what they want to do,” he said. “After that, we’ll see what we can do.”

Many Christian leaders promptly gave positive responses, but the Vatican’s top official for relations with Islam – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran — had expressed doubt both faiths could agree on such issues as God, love and how to read sacred scripture.

In the meantime, leading Catholic experts on Islam lined up to welcome the Muslim initiative, leaving Tauran – whose doubts echoed reservations about Islam expressed in the past by Pope Benedict – looking increasingly isolated.

The Vatican can make or break this initiative. With 1.1 billion followers, Catholicism alone has almost as many followers as Islam’s 1.3 billion. A dialogue between Muslims and only the other Christian churches would be incomplete.

Aref Ali Nayed, a signatory of the appeal, said the Muslim scholars understood the Vatican took time to respond and that a positive response “would be a clear sign of hope for the world.”

Nayed noted that 300 mostly Protestant leaders in the United States had recently supported their call.

Catholic experts on Islam said the Vatican’s reservations were complex theological issues such as whether Christians and Muslims had the same vision of God.

But they said there was so much misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims about what each other believed that a serious dialogue about them would help improve relations.

“There are differences and they will always be there,” one said. “But now is not the time to look for problems. It is important to respond to something so positive with something equally positive.”

Here’s the website of Islam’s “Dialogue Call”: A Common Word:

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A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’

In the name of the Infinitely Good God whom we should love with all our Being

As members of the worldwide Christian community, we were deeply encouraged and challenged by the recent historic open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world. A Common Word Between Us and You identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism. Jesus Christ’s call to love God and neighbor was rooted in the divine revelation to the people of Israel embodied in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). We receive the open letter as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians world-wide. In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and our neighbors.

Muslims and Christians have not always shaken hands in friendship; their relations have sometimes been tense, even characterized by outright hostility. Since Jesus Christ says, “First take the log out your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye” (Matthew 7:5), we want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the “war on terror”) many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors. Before we “shake your hand” in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.

Religious Peace—World Peace
“Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.” We share the sentiment of the Muslim signatories expressed in these opening lines of their open letter. Peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians stand as one of the central challenges of this century, and perhaps of the whole present epoch. Though tensions, conflicts, and even wars in which Christians and Muslims stand against each other are not primarily religious in character, they possess an undeniable religious dimension. If we can achieve religious peace between these two religious communities, peace in the world will clearly be easier to attain. It is therefore no exaggeration to say, as you have in A Common Word Between Us and You, that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

Common Ground
What is so extraordinary about A Common Word Between Us and You is not that its signatories recognize the critical character of the present moment in relations between Muslims and Christians. It is rather a deep insight and courage with which they have identified the common ground between the Muslim and Christian religious communities. What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both: love of God and love of neighbor. Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam as well. That so much common ground exists – common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith – gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together. That this common ground consists in love of God and of neighbor gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities.

Love of God
We applaud that A Common Word Between Us and You stresses so insistently the unique devotion to one God, indeed the love of God, as the primary duty of every believer. God alone rightly commands our ultimate allegiance. When anyone or anything besides God commands our ultimate allegiance – a ruler, a nation, economic progress, or anything else – we end up serving idols and inevitably get mired in deep and deadly conflicts.

We find it equally heartening that the God whom we should love above all things is described as being Love. In the Muslim tradition, God, “the Lord of the worlds,” is “The Infinitely Good and All-Merciful.” And the New Testament states clearly that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Since God’s goodness is infinite and not bound by anything, God “makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” according to the words of Jesus Christ recorded in the Gospel (Matthew 5:45).

For Christians, humanity’s love of God and God’s love of humanity are intimately linked. As we read in the New Testament: “We love because he [God] first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love of God springs from and is nourished by God’s love for us. It cannot be otherwise, since the Creator who has power over all things is infinitely good.

Love of Neighbor
We find deep affinities with our own Christian faith when A Common Word Between Us and You insists that love is the pinnacle of our duties toward our neighbors. “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself,” the Prophet Muhammad said. In the New Testament we similarly read, “whoever does not love [the neighbor] does not know God” (1 John 4:8) and “whoever does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). God is love, and our highest calling as human beings is to imitate the One whom we worship.

We applaud when you state that “justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part” of the love of neighbor. When justice is lacking, neither love of God nor love of the neighbor can be present. When freedom to worship God according to one’s conscience is curtailed, God is dishonored, the neighbor oppressed, and neither God nor neighbor is loved.

Since Muslims seek to love their Christian neighbors, they are not against them, the document encouragingly states. Instead, Muslims are with them. As Christians we resonate deeply with this sentiment. Our faith teaches that we must be with our neighbors – indeed, that we must act in their favor – even when our neighbors turn out to be our enemies. “But I say unto you,” says Jesus Christ, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Matthew 5:44-45). Our love, Jesus Christ says, must imitate the love of the infinitely good Creator; our love must be as unconditional as is God’s‚Äö√Ñ√Æextending to brothers, sisters, neighbors, and even enemies. At the end of his life, Jesus Christ himself prayed for his enemies: “Forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

The Prophet Muhammad did similarly when he was violently rejected and stoned by the people of Ta’if. He is known to have said, “The most virtuous behavior is to engage those who sever relations, to give to those who withhold from you, and to forgive those who wrong you.” (It is perhaps significant that after the Prophet Muhammad was driven out of Ta’if, it was the Christian slave ‚Äö√Ñ√≤Addas who went out to Muhammad, brought him food, kissed him, and embraced him.)

The Task Before Us
“Let this common ground” – the dual common ground of love of God and of neighbor – “be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us,” your courageous letter urges. Indeed, in the generosity with which the letter is written you embody what you call for. We most heartily agree. Abandoning all “hatred and strife,” we must engage in interfaith dialogue as those who seek each other’s good, for the one God unceasingly seeks our good. Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.

Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.

We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose.

Harold W. Attridge
Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of
New Testament, Yale Divinity School

Miroslav Volf
Founder and Director of the Yale Center
for Faith and Culture, Henry B. Wright
Professor of Theology, Yale University

Joseph Cumming
Director of the Reconciliation Program,
Yale Center for Faith and Culture

Emilie M. Townes
Andrew Mellon Professor of African
American Religion and Theology
and President-elect of the American
Academy of Religion

Capt. Bradford E. Ableson, Chaplain Corps, US Navy and Senior Episcopal Chaplain in the US Navy

Dr. Martin Accad, Academic Dean, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (Lebanon), Director, Institute of Middle East Studies (Lebanon), Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller School of Intercultural Studies

Scott C. Alexander, Associate Professor of Islam and Director, Catholic-Muslim Studies, Catholic Theological Union

Roger Allen, Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature and Chair, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, member of Middle East Study Group of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Rev. Daniel S. Appleyard, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Dearborn, MI

William Aramony, Consultant

Harold W. Attridge, Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School

Dr. Don Argue, Chancellor, Northwest University, Former President, National Association of Evangelicals, Commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

David Augsburger, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Fuller Theological Seminary

Gerald R. Baer, M.D., Minister of Christian Education, Landisville, PA

Dwight P. Baker, Associate Director, Overseas Ministries Study Center

Dr. Ray Bakke, Convening Chair, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding: An International Coalition, Tempe, AZ

His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin, MCCI, Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait

Leonard Bartlotti, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, Biola University

Charles L. Bartow, Carl and Helen Egner Professor of Speech Communication in Ministry, Princeton Theological Seminary

Bruce Baumgartner, OSB, Spiritual Director

Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

Federico Bertuzzi, President, PM Internacional, Latin America

James A. Beverley, Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Canada

J.D. Bindenagel, former U.S. Ambassador and Vice President, DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Luke Birky, Goshen, IN

Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Blair, The Second Presbyterian Church of Baltimore

Walter R. Bodine, Pastor, International Church at Yale and Research Affiliate, Near Eastern Languages, Yale University

David Bok, Independent Bible Teacher, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT

Rev. Jim Bonewald, Pastor, Knox Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids, IA

Jonathan J. Bonk, Executive Director, Overseas Ministries Study Center and Editor, International Bulletin of Missionary Research

Gerhard Böwering, Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University

Richard Bowser, Sunland Park, NM

Matt Brandon, Frontier Trek & Tours, Travel Photographer

Dan Brannen, International Students, Inc.

Timothy Brenneman, Harrisonburg, VA

Revs. Scott & Katarina Breslin, Protestant House Church Network, Istanbul Turkey

Rev. Douglas Brown, Pastor, Valley View United Methodist Church Overland Park, Kansas

Joseph Britton, Dean, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale

Huib Bruinink, Developer of Marketing, PT. Puteri Mawar Sari, Central Java, Indonesia

John M. Buchanan, Editor/Publisher, The Christian Century.

Robert & Betty Lou Buckwalter, Prince of Peace Mennonite Church, Anchorage, Alaska

Eugene W. Bunkowske, Ph.D., Fiechtner Chair Professor of Christian Outreach, Oswald Huffman School of Christian Outreach, Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota

Julie Burgess, Omaha, NE

John R. Burkholder, Professor Emeritus, Religion and Peace Studies, Goshen College, Goshen, IN

David Burkum, Pastor, Valley Christian Church, Lakeville, MN

Rt. Rev. Joe Goodwin Burnett, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska

Allen Busenitz, International Student Ministry, West Lafayette, IN

Very Rev. Samuel G. Candler, Dean, Cathedral of St. Philip (Anglican), Atlanta, GA

Juan Carlos C√°rdenas, Academic Director, Instituto Iberoamericano de Estudios Transculturales, Granada, Spain

Candace Carey, Jurisdoctorate Student, Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, MI

Mark Carey, Doctor of Physical Therapy Student, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI

Joseph Castleberry, President, Northwest University

Rev. Colin Chapman, Former Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut, Lebanon, and author of Whose Promised Land?

David Yonggi Cho, Founder and Senior Pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, Korea

Hyung Kyun Chung, Associate Professor of Ecumenical Studies, Union Theological Seminary in New York

Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals

William Clarkson IV, President, The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Georgia

Emily Click, Lecturer on Ministry and Assistant Dean for Ministry Studies and Field Education, Harvard Divinity School.

The Community Council of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, Dayton, OH. Sister Florence Seifert, CPPS, President; Sister Jeanette Buehler, CPPS, Vice-President; Sister Madonna Ratermann, CPPS, Councilor; Sister Edna Hess, CPPS, Councilor; Sister Marita Beumer, CPPS, Councilor

Corneliu Constantineanu, Dean and Associate Professor of New Testament, Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, Croatia

Robert E. Cooley, President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Massachusetts

Rev. Shawn Coons, St. Philip Presbyterian, Houston, TX

Harvey Cox, Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School

Joseph Cumming, Director of the Reconciliation Program, Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale Divinity School

Daniel A. Cunningham, Executive Pastor, Temple Bible Church, Temple, TX

Fr. John D’Alton, President, Melbourne Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Melbourne, Australia

Rev. David R. Davis, Special Projects Coordinator, The Evangelical Alliance Mission, Wheaton, IL

John Deacon, Leader, Branch Out Ministries, The Olive Branch Community Church, Markham, Ontario, Canada

Rev. Joseph C. Delahunt, Senior Pastor, Silliman Memorial Baptist Church, Bridgeport, CT

André Delbecq, Thomas J. and Kathleen L. McCarthy University Professor, Center for Spirituality of Organizational Leadership and former Dean of the Leavey School of Business at the University of Santa Clara

Dr. John Dendiu, Assistant Professor of Religion, Bethel College (Indiana)

David A. Depew, President, Seed of Abraham Association, Broadcasting radio Bible studies in the Middle East

Keith DeRose, Allison Foundation Professor of Philosophy, Yale University

Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Professor of Reconciliation Studies, Bethel University

Andrew Dimmock, Director, Doulos Community, Nouakchott, Mauritania

Chip Dobbs-Allsopp, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

Linda Tempesta Ducrot, President, Chez Ducrot, Inc., Plymouth, MA

Andrés Alonso Duncan, CEO, Latinoamerica Global, A.C.

Kent A. Eaton, Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Associate Dean, Bethel Seminary San Diego, California

Omar and Anna Kathryn Eby, Harrisonburg, VA

Diana L. Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies in Arts and Sciences and member of the Faculty of Divinity, Harvard University

Mark U. Edwards, Jr., Senior Advisor to the Dean, Harvard Divinity School

James Ehrman, Director, Global Ministries Office, Evangelical Congregational Church

Bertil Ekstrom, Executive Director, Mission Commission, World Evangelical Alliance

Nancie Erhard, Assistant Professor of Comparative Religious Ethics, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

John Esposito, University Professor & Founding Director Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University

Chester E. Falby, Priest Associate, St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, Manzanita, OR

Steven Fenwick Ph.D., Counselor in private practice, Olympia, WA

Thomas P. Finger, Mennonite Central Committee, Evanston, IL

Rev. Dr. David C. Fisher, Senior Minister, Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, NY

David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University

Marlene Malahoo Forte, 2007 Yale World Fellow

Matthew Friedman, Th.M. Candidate, Asbury Theological Seminary

Makoto Fujimura, Artist

Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA

Rev. Susan L. Gabbard, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Mifflinburg, PA

Millard Garrett, Vice President, Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, PA

Siobhan Garrigan, Assistant Professor of Liturgical Studies and Assistant Dean for Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School

Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Cheryl German, Knoxville, TN

William Goettler, Assistant Dean for Assessment and Ministerial Studies, Yale Divinity School

Robert S. Goizueta, Professor of Theology, Boston College

Leon & Elaine Good, Lititz, PA

Bruce Gordon, Professor of History, University of St. Andrews

William A. Graham, Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies in Arts and Sciences and O’Brian Professor of Divinity and Dean in the Divinity School, Harvard University

Rev. Bruce Green, Bridge Building Facilitator, FCM Foundation, Centerville Presbyterian Church, Fremont, CA

Joel B. Green, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

Lynn Green, International Chairman, Youth With A Mission

Frank Griffel, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Yale University

Rev. Kent Claussen Gubrud, Christus Victor Lutheran Church, Apple Valley, MN

Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky

Brian Gumm, Interim Lay Pastor, Ankeny Church of the Brethren, Ankeny, Iowa

Judith Gundry-Volf, Adjunct Associate Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School

David P. Gushee, Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University and President, Evangelicals for Human Rights

Kim B. Gustafson, President, Common Ground Consultants, Inc.

Elie Haddad, Provost, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Lebanon

Dr. Anette Hagan, Elder, Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church, Edinburgh, Scotland

Martin Hailer, Professor of Theology, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany

Rev. L. Ann Hallisey, Hallisey Consulting and Counseling, Interim Vicar, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Berkeley, CA

Gloria K. Hannas, Member, Peacemaking Mission Team of the Presbytery of Chicago, PCUSA, La Grange, IL

Paul D. Hanson, Florence Corliss Lamont Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School

Pastor Peter Hanson, Director of Studies, Dept. of Theology and Training, Lutheran Church of Senegal

Rob Hazel, High Wycombe, England

Heidi Hadsell, President, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT

David Heim, Executve Editor, The Christian Century

Eike J. Heinze, Hartford, WI

Richard Henderson, Director of Studies, Westbrook Hay, United Kingdom

Mary E. Hess, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary

Richard Heyduck, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Pittsburg, TX

Scott Hinton, First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, IL

Sheryll Hix, Behavior Specialist, Stuart , Florida

Rev. Norman A. Hjelm, Director, Commission on Faith and Order (retired), National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

Shirley Eid Holm, Church Librarian, Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, IL

Carl R. Holladay, Charles Howard Candler Professor of New Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Jan Holton, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Yale Divinity School

Marian E. Hostetler, former worker, Mennonite Mission Network and Eastern Mennonite Mission, Elkhart, IN

Joseph Hough, President and William E. Dodge Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in New York

Imogen Hawthorne Howe,West Redding, CT

Robert W. Huntington 3rd, MD, Member, Madison Wisconsin Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Bill Hybels, Founder and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL

Carol Ingells, Spiritual Director, Episcopal lay leader, Lansing, MI

Carlos Iwaszkowiec, Sales Director, MECS, Inc., St. Louis, MO

Dr. Nabeel T. Jabbour, Consultant, Professor, Colorado Springs, CO

Dr. Mary Ellen Jacobs, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT

Todd Jenkins, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, TN

Jeromy Johnson, Pastor, Sacramento, CA

David L. Johnston, Lecturer, Religious Studies Department, University of Pennsylvania

Robert K. Johnston, Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston, Bishop Coadjutor, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Gary D. Jones, Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA

Stanton L. Jones, Provost and Professor of Psychology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL

Susan Jones, Cary, NC

Tony Jones, National Coordinator, Emergent Village

Stefan Jung, Economist, Germany

Rev. Riad A. Kassis, Theologian, Author, and Consultant

Sister Helen Kearney, Sisters of Saint Joseph, Brentwood, NY

Rev. Stephen B. Kellough, Chaplain, Wheaton College (IL)

Ann King-Grosh, Lancaster, PA

Sister Janet Kinney, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY

Steve Knight, National Coordinating Group Member, Emergent Village, Charlotte, NC

Paul Knitter, Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture, Union Theological Seminary in New York

Dr. Manfred W. Kohl, Vice President of Overseas Council International, USA

Rev. John A. Koski, Assemblies of God, Dearborn, MI

Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York NY

James R. Krabill, Senior Executive for Global Ministries, Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, IN

Hank Kraus, Founder and Director, PeaceMark

Sharon Kugler, University Chaplain, Yale University

Catherine Kurtz, Landisville Mennonite Church, Landisville, PA

Peter Kuzmic, Eva B. and Paul E. Toms Distinguished Professor of World Missions and European Studies, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Rektor, Evandjeoski Teoloski Fakultet, Osijek, Croatia

David Lamarre-Vincent, Executive Director, New Hampshire Council of Churches

John A. Lapp, Executive Secretary Emeritus, Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, PA

Traugott Lawler, Professor of English emeritus, Yale University

Maurice Lee, Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University

Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Kristen Leslie, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care, Yale Divinity School

Linda LeSourd Lader, President, Renaissance Institute, Charleston, SC

Tim Lewis, President, William Carey International University

Rev. R. Charles Lewis, Jr., Parish Associate, First Presbyterian- Vintage Faith Church, Santa Cruz, CA

Julyan Lidstone, OM, Glasgow, Scotland

Erik Lincoln, Author of Peace Generation tolerance curriculum for Muslim Students, Indonesia

Norman Lindholm, Ohio

John Lindner, Director of External Relations, Yale Divinity School

Duane Litfin, President, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL

Greg Livingstone, Founder, Frontiers and historian of Muslim-Christian encounter

Albert C. Lobe, Interim Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, PA

Rick Love, International Director, Frontiers and Adjunct Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Peacemaking

Jerry Ludeke

Owen Lynch, Associate Pastor, Trent Vineyard, Nottingham, UK

Douglas Magnuson, Associate Professor of Intercultural Programs and Director of Muslim Studies, Bethel University

Brent D. Maher, Graduate Assistant to the Provost, Taylor University, Upland, IN

Peter Maiden, International Coordinator, OM

Danut Manastireanu, Director for Faith & Development, Middle East & East Europe Region, World Vision International, Iasi, Romania

Rev. Steven D. Martin, President, Vital Visions Incorporated and Pastor, United Methodist Church, Oak Ridge, TN

Harold E. Masback, III, Senior Minister, The Congregational Church of New Canaan

Caleb J.D. Maskell, PhD student, Department of Religion, Princeton University

Shaun Mazurek, Denver, Colorado

Rt. Rev Gerald N. McAllister, Retired Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma

The Rev. Donald M. McCoid, Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

C. Douglas McConnell, PhD, Dean, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Seminary

Don McCurry, President, Ministries to Muslims

Jeanne McGorry, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY

Elsie McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship, Princeton Theological Seminary

Brian D. McLaren, Author, Speaker, Activist

Kathleen E. McVey, J. Ross Stevenson Professor of Early and Eastern Church History, Princeton Theological Seminary

Carl Medearis, President, International Initiatives, Denver, CO

Greg Meland, Director of Formation, Supervised Ministry and Placement, Bethel Seminary, Minnesota

Judith Mendelsohn Rood, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies, Department of History, Government, and Social Science School of Arts and Sciences, Biola

Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, PA

Mickey J. Mercer, Teacher, Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff, AZ

Harold E. Metzler, Member, Church of the Brethren and heritor of the Amish/Mennonite tradition

Alan E. Miller, Lead Pastor, Conestoga Church of the Brethren, Leola, PA

David B. Miller, Pastor, University Mennonite Church, State College, PA

Rev. Dr. Sid L. Mohn, President, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, Chicago, IL

Brother Benilde Montgomery, O.S.F., Franciscan Brother of Brooklyn

Steve Moore, President & CEO, The Mission Exchange

Douglas Morgan, Director, Adventist Peace Fellowship

Richard Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary

John Mueller, Minister of Music, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Ft. Wayne, IN

Barbara Mueller, teacher emerita, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Ft. Wayne

Salim J. Munayer, Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation and Academic Dean, Bethlehem Bible College, Jerusalem

Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Church of Columbus

David Neff, Editor in Chief & Vice-President, Christianity Today Media Group

Alexander Negrov, President, Saint Petersburg Christian University, St. Petersburg, Russia

Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, Associate Dean, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto

Craig Noll, Assistant Editor, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Overseas Ministries Study Center

Rev. Roy Oksnevad, Director Muslim Ministry, Billy Graham Center at Wheaton

Dennis Olsen, Charles T. Haley Professor of Old Testament Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

Richard R. Osmer, Thomas Synnot Professor of Christian Education, Princeton Theological Seminary

Rt. Rev. George E. Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies of the Episcopal Church

Rev. Jeanne C. Parker, clergywoman, ABC/RGR, Rochester, NY

George Parsenios, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

Greg H. Parsons, General Director, USCWM, Pasadena, CA

Stephanie A. Paulsell, Houghton Professor of the Practice of Ministry Studies, Harvard Divinity School

James R. Payton, Jr., Professor of History, Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada and President, Christians Associated for Relationships with Eastern Europe

Jonathan Pedrone, Youth Pastor, New Testament Baptist Church, Miami, FL

Doug Pennoyer, Dean, School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University

Howard Pepper, M.A., M.Div., President, Nurture Press, San Diego, CA

Dan Peters, Thousand Oaks, CA

Douglas Petersen, Margaret S. Smith Professor of Intercultural Studies, Vanguard University of Southern California

Viola Deavours Powers, Cincinnati, OH

Rev. Edward Prevost, Rector, Christ Church, Winnetka, Illinois

Bruce G. Privratsky, Elder, Holston Conference, United Methodist Church

Sally M. Promey, Professor of Religion & Visual Culture, Professor of American Studies, Professor Religious Studies and Deputy Director, Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University

Rev. Erl G. Purnell, Rector, Old Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Bloomfield, CT

Rev. John C. Ramey, President, Aslan Child Rescue Ministries and President, The Olive Branch Institute

Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

David A. Reed, Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology and Research, Wycliffe College, Univerity of Toronto, Canada

Neil Rees, International Director, World Horizons

Rev. Warren Reeve, Lead Pastor, Bandung International Church, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia and Founder and Facilitator of the Missional International Church Network

Rodney Allen Reeves, Former moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oregon and board member, Greater Portland Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding and member, Interfaith Council of Greater Portland.

Dr. Donald H. and Mary M. Reimer, Charlesewood Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dr. Evelyne A. Reisacher, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and International Relations, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA

Cornel G. Rempel, Retired pastor, chaplain and supervisor of clinical pastoral education, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

David Reynolds, Australia

Robert E. Riddle, First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, N.C.

Steve Robbins, Pastor and Director, Vineyard Leadership Institute

Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Professor of Church History and Ecumenics, Fuller Theological Seminary and the Director of the David du Plessis Center for Christian Spirituality

Leonard Rodgers, Executive Director, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding: An International Coalition, Tempe, AZ

Dudley C. Rose, Lecturer on Ministry and Associate Dean for Ministry Study, Harvard Divinity School

Rev. Herschel Rosser, Associate Pastor, Vineyard Church of Sugar Land, Stafford, TX and Texas Area Church Planting Coordinator, Vineyard, USA

Glenna N. Roukes, Elder, First Presbyterian Church, Santa Cruz, CA and Secretary, Mission Team

Philip Ruge-Jones, Associate Professor of Theology, Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, Texas

William L. Sachs, Director, Center for Reconciliation and Mission, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia

Robert A. Sain, Pastor, Messiah Lutheran Church, ELCA, Hildebran, NC

Lamin Sanneh, D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity, Yale University

Andrew D. Saperstein, Associate Director of the Reconciliation Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture

Tyler Savage, Missionary with Church Resource Ministries, Germany and South Africa

Warren C. Sawyer, President and CEO, The Caleb Foundation, Swampscott, MA

Rev. Dr. Christian Scharen, Director, Faith as a Way of Life Program, Yale Center for Faith & Culture

Rev. Mark Schindler, Unity of Auburn, Auburn, CA

Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller, Founder, Crystal Cathedral and Hour of Power

Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Studies, Harvard Divinity School

William Schweiker, Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics, University of Chicago

Glen G. Scorgie, Ph.D., Bethel Seminary San Diego

Waldron Scott, President emeritus, Holistic Ministries International, Paterson, NJ

Andrew J. Sebanc, Senior Pastor, Green Timbers Covenant Church, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Rev. Donald Senior, C.P., President, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Illinois

C. L. Seow, Henry Snyder Gehman Professor of OT Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary

Emily Shaffer, US Department of State, Kigali, Rwanda

Donna Shank, LCSW, Lancaster, PA

Joey Shaw, Masters candidate at Center for Middle East Studies and LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin

Imad Nicola Shehadeh, President and Senior Professor of Theology, Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary

Michael T. Shelley, Director, Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

David W. and K. Grace Shenk, Global Consultants, Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, PA

Wilbert R. Shenk, Senior Professor of Mission History and Contemporary Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

Marguerite Shuster, Harold John Ockenga Professor of Preaching and Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Frederick J. Sigworth, Professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University

Walt Simmerman, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Galax, VA

C. Donald Smedley, Associate Director, The Rivendell Institute, New Haven, CT

John D. Spalding, Founder and Editor,

John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

Glen H. Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Chrisian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary

Wilbur P. Stone, Program Director and Lead Faculty, Global and Contextual Studies, Bethel University/Seminary

Rev. Dr. John Stott, Rector Emeritus, All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, UK

Frederick J. Streets, The Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor in Pastoral Counseling, The Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, Adjunct Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Yale Divinity School, Former Yale University Chaplain

Dan Sullivan, Saint Augustine’s Episcopal Church,Wilmette IL

Diana Swancutt, Associate Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School

Merlin Swartz, Professor of Islamic Studies, Boston University

Christine Talbott, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Castine, ME

Dr. Glen A. Taylor, Cooperative Studies Teaching Fellow, Tajikistan State National University, Dushanbe, Tjikistan

William Taylor, Global Ambassador, World Evangelical Alliance

Harvey Thiessen, Executive Director, OM Canada

Rev. John Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

Stephen Thomas, European Team Leader, Salt & Light Ministries Senior Pastor, Oxford, UK

Dr. J. Milburn Thompson, Chair and Professor of Theology, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY

Iain Torrance, President, Princeton Theological Seminary

Emilie M. Townes, Andrew Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, Yale Divinity School, and President-elect of the American Academy of Religion

Michael W. Treneer, Internation President, The Navigators, Colorado Springs, CO

Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director, World Evangelical Alliance

Fr. Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J., Director Emeritus Peace and Justice Programs, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH

James and Susan Vagnier, Columbus, OH

George Verwer, Founder and former International Director, OM

Harold Vogelaar, Director Emeritus: A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Miroslav Volf, Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale Divinity School

Marlene M. von Friederichs-Fitzwater, Assistant Adjunct Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology, UC Davis School of Medicine and Director of Outreach Research and Education, UC Davis Cancer Center

Fr. H. Eberhard von Waldow, Professor Emeritus, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Rev. Berten A. Waggoner, National Director, Association of Vineyard Churches

Robin Wainwright, President, Middle East Fellowship, Pasadena, CA and Chairman of the Executive Committee, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

Dr. Dale F. Walker, Affiliate Professor, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY

Barbara Wall, Certified speech and language pathologist Bandhagen, Sweden

Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners

Charlotte R. Ward, Associate Professor of Physics, Emerita, Auburn University and Life Deacon, Auburn First Baptist Church

Charles H. Warnock III, Senior Pastor, Chatham Baptist Church, Chatham, VA

Rick Warren, Founder and Senior Pastor, Saddleback Church, and The Purpose Driven Life, Lake Forest, CA

Rev. Debra Warwick-Sabino, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Fairfield, CA

Mark R. Wenger, Director of Pastoral Studies, Lancaster Eastern Mennonite Seminary P.O., Lancaster, PA

Rev. Laura Westby, Pastor, First Congregational Church of Danbury, CT

Bett and Talbert Williams, St Anne’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA

Robert R. Wilson, Hoober Professor of Religious Studies, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Yale Divinity School

Leslie Withers, Coordinator, Interfaith Pilgrimage Project, Friendship Force International, Atlanta, GA

Dr.John Wolfersberger, Retired Executive, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Southern California

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

J. Dudley Woodberry, Professor of Islamic Studies and Dean Emeritus of the Fuller School of International Studies

Rev Dr Christopher J H Wright, International Director, Langham Partnership International, London, UK

John Wright, Senior Pastor, Trent Vineyard, Nottingham, England

Robyn Yates, Children’s Pastor, Fellowship Bible Church Arapaho, Dallas, TX

Byard & Judy Yoder, Landisville Mennonite Church, Pennsylvania

Godfrey Yogarajah, General Secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of Asia

Rev. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, Vice President of the Protestant Church in Egypt, Director of Dar El Thaquafa Communications House-CEOSS

Rev. John D. Zeigler, First Presbyterian Church, PCUSA, Canton, TX

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Fund for American Studies IIPES Program Scholarships

The Fund for American Studies and Georgetown University take pride in presenting the premier academic program for future leaders, the International Institute for Political and Economic Studies (IIPES) in Greece. As a valuable resource for the leaders of tomorrow, you can assist us in recruiting outstanding students to apply for the Institute. We would greatly appreciate your help, and invite you to recommend qualified candidates to apply for the upcoming 2008 program.

Each summer, IIPES brings students from the United States, the Middle East and Balkans together to learn about each other and explore ways to cross the barriers that divide their cultures. The curriculum engages students in philosophical examination of government, society and culture, conflict management, and political economy. Both graduate and undergraduate credit are available from Georgetown University for students attending the program. This summer, IIPES will be held from July 11 – August 4, 2008.

For more information about IIPES, please visit our website at This is your opportunity to help a student experience one of our premier programs for future leaders. Please encourage a student to apply today!

Students with limited or no internet access should contact Brigit Moore by phone at 011 (202) 986-0384 or by fax at 011 (202) 986-0390.

We employ a rolling basis for admission decisions and students are encouraged to apply before the early admissions deadline of January 31, 2008. The final deadline is March 15, 2008. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us at

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FURNISHED office space available for sublease at CSID office in DOWNTOWN WASHINGTON DC (1625 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 601, Washington DC). Space available ranges from 1 to 4 office rooms (fully furnished) and rent is between $1,500 and $4,000 per month. Rent includes use of board and conference rooms (from 10 to 90 people). Ideal location and flexible terms.

EXCELLENT LOCATION – next to Johns Hopkins, SAIS, Brookings, Carnegie Endowment, and USIP. Close to DuPont Circle metro.

For further information, please contact Aly Abuzaakuk at (202) 265-1200.

The articles in this bulletin do NOT necessarily reflect the opinions of CSID, or its board of directors. They are included in the CSID bulletin to encourage and facilitate diversity of opinions, discussions, and debates about democracy in the Arab/Muslim world, and how best to strengthen and promote it.


Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID)
1625 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Suite 601 – Washington, DC 20036-2212
Tel.: (202) 265-1200 – Fax: (202) 265-1222