A very thought provoking article over at Big Peace, this one will have you thinking more about the differences between Christianity as a religion and Islam as an ideology that overpowers government structure. This is fresh off the press today, March 6th, and is written by Peter Schweizer:
Judeo-Christian Values are Compatible With Democracy; Islamist Values Are Not
As the Middle East is flush with dramatic change, the assumption of many is that this might bring us the era of democracy is the region. But the most powerful political and cultural force in the region is Islam. Is this religion compatible with democracy?
Evidence from around the world is not encouraging. Sure, Islamist political parties have participated in and won elections. But once in power, are they willing to actually give it up when they lose? As one observer puts it:
“…the examples are discouraging. The memory of the corrupt 2009 Iranian elections is still fresh and the subsequent brutal suppression of dissent is ongoing. Just last month Hamas, lagging in the polls behind its Fatah rival, announced its refusal to participate in this year’s long overdue presidential and legislative elections announced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose own term officially should have ended two years ago.”
The simple fact is that for Islamists, nothing is more important than imposing their ideology and sharia. They have no commitment to democracy, either philosophically or historically. Democracy is simply a means to an end. And when they reach that end, they will give up their commitment to democracy. The roots of representative government are deeply tied to the western tradition. Countries like Japan after World War II succeeded in becoming democracies simply because they already had been strongly influenced by western ideas and the American occupation made sure that those values seeped into society.
Indonesia is often cited as an example of a democratic, predominantly Muslim state. As Hillary Clinton has put it,‘‘If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity, and women’s rights can co-exist, go to Indonesia.’’ But Indonesia is vastly different than the Middle East. It has strong Asian influences that temper its brand of Islam. There is no official mosque or spiritual leader in the country. And the Chinese minority in the country exerts considerable cultural influence. Indonesia and the Middle East have very little in common culturally.
Well Christianity eventually embraced democracy, you might ask. Why not Islam? The answer lies deep within the root of these faiths. Christianity is an individualistic faith with is based on the belief that the individual has a direct pipeline to God, and that each individual has value. After all, each individual was created in God’s image. Given that foundation it is easy to see how representative government developed. Islam does not have an individualistic view of faith, or of the value of the individual.
So is Islam compatible with democracy? The current slate of nations and history seems to indicate that it is not. When it comes to democracy sprouting in the Middle East I wouldn’t bank on it. I’m less concerned as to whether democracies will emerge than whether the governments will be pro-western. Democracy in the Islamic countries seems to mean “one man, one vote, one time.”