"If they incline to peace, you also incline
to it, and put your trust in Allah."
-Surat-an-Nisaa (4), ayah 94
|December 2, 2005|
7th Annual Conference
THE CHALLENGE OF DEMOCRACY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
May 5-6, 2006 (Please note new date)
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel - Washington, D.C.
CALL FOR PAPER PROPOSALS
Recent trends in democratic developments in the Muslim world indicate the continued struggle of Muslim peoples for democracy. At the heart of the desired democratic change are freedoms and good governance resting on effective popular participation, accountability, and rule of law. While some Muslim countries have taken serious strides toward democracy, e.g. Indonesia and Turkey, most others have lagged behind. Nowadays only a minority of scholars still questions the desirability and feasibility of democracy in the Muslim world. Yet, the record shows that democracy has neither taken hold nor been consolidated in the Muslim world. Why? Earlier answers have focused on essentialist cultural explanations. Such a discourse on democracy, or lack thereof, often takes place in a historical and contextual vacuum. More serious works have examined the political, economic, and social obstacles, all within the regional and international contexts. How valuable is the theoretical discourse in explaining the success or failure of democratization in the Muslim world? Can there be democratic legitimacy without individual liberty?
The seventh annual conference of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, therefore, will examine the obstacles to democracy, both domestic and international, in the Muslim world. Paper proposals are invited from prospective participants on the following seven broad topics.
Possible topics are by no means restricted to the ones that follow but proposals must demonstrate the relevance of their topic in general to the challenges of democracy in Muslim societies. Both broad theoretical approaches and specific case studies are welcome:
For updates on the conference, please visit http://csidonline.org/
CSID is pleased to announce the launch of its new website in Persian/Farsi language.
A hands-on book for teaching democracy in the Arab and Muslim world
Street Law, Inc and The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy invite you to launch their new text:
Islam and Democracy: Towards Effective Citizenship
Islam and Democracy: Towards Effective Citizenship is an Arabic-language guide to teaching about democracy in Muslim societies for leaders involved in grassroots education in their communities. The guide was written by EIGHT authors from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and Jordan in collaboration with CSID and Street Law, Inc.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005, 5:30 PM
Reception and Book Launch
International Conference Center
Holland & Knight, LLP
2099 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
CSID and Partners for Democratic Change are pleased to announce the organization of the launching conference for the Network of Democrats in the Arab World (NDAW), which will take place on Dec. 16-17, 2005 at the Sheraton Casablanca Hotel & Towers, in Casablanca, Morocco.
Among the confirmed participants at this launching conference:
Aisha Balhadjar (Algeria), Abdelkader Djema (Algeria), Ali Djeri (Algeria), Safia Fahassi (Algeria), Boudjema Ghechir (Algeria), Abderazzak Guessoum (Algeria), Abderazzak Makri (Algeria), Rachid Tlemcani (Algeria), Ayat Abul-Futtouh (Egypt), Essam El-Eryan (Egypt), Yehia Farrag (Egypt), Amr Hamzawi (Egypt), Saad Ibrahim (Egypt), Amal Ewida Kenawy (Egypt), Emad Shaheen (Egypt), Kais Jawwad Al-Azwany (Iraq), Talib Aziz Al-Hamdani (Iraq), Aziz Ali (Iraq), Ala'a Al-Din J. Kadhem (Iraq), Faiz Al Rabie (Jordan), Anas Assaket (Jordan), Dina Dahkqan (Jordan), Marwan Awad Faouri (Jordan), Obaida Fares (Jordan), Hani Hourani (Jordan), Samir Amin Jarrah (Jordan), Moussa Rachid Khalailah (jordan), Manar Rashwani (Jordan), Saoud al-Mawla (Lebanon), Faiza al-Basha (Libya), Ashur al-Shamis (Libya), Fawzia Bariun (Libya), Mokhtar Benabdallaoui (Morocco), Jamal Bendahmane (Morocco), Rachidd Elidrissi (Morocco), Saad Eddine El-Othmani (Morocco), Mostapha Imouatassime (Morocco), Abderahim Sabir (Morocco), Mohamed Manar Slimi (Morocco), Mohamed Yatim (Morocco), Sadeq Sulaiman (Oman), Hasan Saffar (Saudi Arabia), Al-Sadig Al-Mahdi (Sudan), Abbas Mahmoud Abbas (Syria), Najib Ghadhban (Syria), Saida Akremi (Tunisia), Aziz Ferjani (Tunisia), Lotfi Hajjy (Tunisia), Slaheddine Jourchi (Tunisia), Mohsen Marzouk (Tunisia), Abderraouf Ounaies (Tunisia), Najah Kadhim (UK), Aly Abuzaakuk (US), Abdulwahab Alkebsi (US), and Radwan Masmoudi (US).
The Steering Committee for the Network consists of:
Abderazzak Makri, Boudjema Ghechir, Ayat Abul-Futtouh, Ala Al-Radhi, Dina Dahkqan, Marwan Awad Faouri, Samir Amin Jarrah, Obaida Fares, Mokhtar Benabdallaoui, Slaheddine Jourchi, Kamal Ben Younes, Mohsen Marzouk, Emad Shaheen, Radwan Masmoudi, and Aly Abuzaakuk.
THE STATE OF U.S. RELATIONS WITH THE MUSLIM WORLD
1. WILLIAM COHEN
2. ANWAR IBRAHIM
3. SHIBLEY TELHAMI
Diplomatic Correspondent, The Washington Post
All are welcome, R.S.V.P. recommended
Muslim Civic Cultures and Conflict Resolution:
by John N. Paden
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
On behalf of the Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, we would like to invite you to a reception and launch event for John Padens new book Muslim Civic Cultures and Conflict Resolution: The Challenges of Democratic Federalism in Nigeria. The event will take place on Wednesday, December 7th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Falk Auditorium, located on the first floor at the Brookings Institution.
Dr. Paden is Clarence Robinson Professor of International Studies and Professor of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University. Dr. Paden will be joined by a panel of special guests of honor, including Major General Muhammadu Buhari, former Head of State of Nigeria and presidential candidate in the 2003 elections, Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, U.N. under-secretary-general for political affairs, and Ambassador Princeton Lyman, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria. They will lead a discussion on Nigerias experience with the challenge of developing democratic institutions sensitive to its ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity.
Nigeria serves as a valuable case-study of a country attempting to coalesce democracy and the rule of law with respect for local Muslim traditions. As the worlds seventh largest oil producer and home to one of the worlds largest Muslim communities, Nigerias governance and stability are matters of international concern. Dr. Padens book analyzes Muslim civic culture in the country and its impact on Nigerias development post-independence. It is an important contribution toward understanding politics and society in this strategically-significant country; additionally, it provides broader lessons that can improve our engagement with the Muslim world.
Will Egypt Become a Democracy?
Friday, December 9, 2005
The 2005 Parliamentary Elections in Egypt have generated unexpected waves that will have far-reaching implications on the countrys political future. Dr. Shahin will analyze the impact of the electoral results; their influence on political liberalization in Egypt; the role of the opposition and the Muslim Brothers; and the effect of U.S. democracy-promotion policies.
Middle East Program
Phone 202.691.4252 Fax 202.691.4184
By Kamel Labidi
The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) opens today in Tunis amid persistent protests from international civil society groups. They are questioning the suitability of Tunisia to host the gathering, at a time when attacks against freedom of ___expression and the media have been on the rise under the direction of the regime of President Zein al-Abedin ben Ali, who seized power 18 years ago.
In a statement handed to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, over 100 civil society groups from different parts of the world affirmed: "It is shocking for the summit to take place in a country with such a deplorable record."
Last Friday, French journalist Christophe Boltanski of the Paris daily Liberation was beaten and stabbed near his hotel by four thugs widely suspected of being on the payroll of the Tunisian secret police. His calls for help fell on the deaf ears of policemen guarding a neighboring European embassy. The episode cast a heavy shadow on Annan's response to the civil society groups. Still, the secretary general claimed that holding the information summit in Tunis "offers a good opportunity for the government of Tunisia to address various human rights concerns, including those related to freedom of opinion and ___expression."
This attack on Boltanski, the first of its kind since Tunisian independence from France in 1956, occurred less than 24 hours after Liberation ran a story by the journalist how, in early November, plainclothes policemen had attacked human rights activists in Tunis. "This escalation in violence shows how extremely nervous the Tunisian authorities are on the eve of the WSIS. Western leaders have taken the opportunity of this summit to call on the Tunisian government 'to prove its firm commitment to protecting and promoting human rights.' But obviously this message has been ignored," Boltanski wrote.
This unacceptable attack on a foreign journalist would not have occurred had Western governments firmly exerted pressure on Ben Ali, whose slide into tyranny started nearly 15 years ago. "The first fundamental human right is to eat," President Jacques Chirac pompously retorted when asked to give his thoughts on a long hunger strike launched at the end of 2003 by Radhia Nasraoui, one of the country's bravest and most harassed human rights lawyers. Chirac did not expect that the Tunisian wheel of repression would one day target a Frenchman. He seemed to have jumped to the conclusion a long time ago that it would not hurt to turn a blind eye to the gross human rights violations in Tunisia, as long as only Tunisians were targeted by the secret police of his friend and counterpart Ben Ali.
Like other Western leaders and Annan, Chirac still entertains the illusion that firm pressure from the international community can somehow lead to significant progress in Tunisia's human rights situation.
During the first phase of the WSIS, held in Geneva in December 2003, all participants, including Ben Ali, affirmed that "the universality, indivisibility, independence and interaction of all human rights" are central to the development of the "information society." Yet local and international human rights groups were shocked to witness an escalation in attacks on freedom of _expression and association in Tunisia in the months preceding the second round of the WSIS, even as the Tunisian government was paying lip service to press freedom and democracy. Members of fact-finding missions coming from different parts of the world witnessed how the authorities suppressed fundamental freedoms, such as preventing the holding last September of the founding congress for the independent Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists, as well as the 6th Congress of the Tunisian Human Rights League. The government also dissolved the democratically elected board of the Association of Tunisian Judges.
On October 18, eight civil society advocates, including Mukhtar Yahyaoui, the head of the Tunis Center for the Independence of the Judiciary, and Lutfi Hajji, the president of the Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists, went on an unlimited hunger strike to protest government policy and the unfair imprisonment of hundreds of political activists. For nearly two weeks, both state and privately owned media turned a blind eye to this unprecedented protest, which brought together for the first time rights activists and dissidents of different ideological leanings. As solidarity with those on hunger strike gained ground in and outside Tunisia, instructions were issued to the state-run media to denounce them.
To ease international and Western diplomatic pressure, the Tunisian authorities earlier this month released nearly 40 political prisoners. However, none of the most prominent figures in detention, such as human rights lawyer Mohammad Abbou, or Hamadi Jebali, former editor of the now-defunct weekly Al-Fajr, were released. Like the government's decision to grant private radio and television licenses to supporters of Ben Ali - a move to spread the illusion of media pluralism - the prisoner release left Tunisians once again doubting their democratic future
However, Tunisians were satisfied by the unprecedented statement released by the U.S. State Department last June 10. While acknowledging Tunisia's "huge progress in the field of economic and social reforms," it urged the Tunisian authorities to make similar steps "in the field of political reforms and human rights" and to take the opportunity of the WSIS "to answer questions raised by the hunger strikers."
However, it is unlikely that Tunisia or any other Arab country can make significant steps toward democracy and freedom of _expression under the rule of leaders like Ben Ali, who exploit opportunities such as the WSIS to improve their image and legitimize their autocratic rule.
Kamel Labidi is a freelance journalist who is currently in Tunis to cover the World Summit on the Information Society. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR
November 18, 2005
As the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society draws to a close, the U.S. delegation wishes to express its thanks to the Tunisian organizers and the Tunisian people for having succeeded in the considerable logistical challenges of hosting the event. The World Summit on the Information Society provided the world with an opportunity to discuss two vitally important issues how to bring the benefits of information technology to the developing world and how to ensure a free flow of information that is critical to the success of the Internet.
Internet stakeholders have underlined in both the official meetings and in parallel events during WSIS the critical necessity of an open dialogue between governments, private sector, and civil society representatives. In hosting this Summit, the government of Tunisia had an opportunity and responsibility to demonstrate clearly its commitment to freedom of the press and its commitment to freedom of _expression. Indeed, in a statement by the Western European and others Group (WEOG), during the Geneva Prepcom in September 2005, Tunisia, as host of the Summit, was called upon to demonstrate that it strongly upholds and promotes the right to freedom of opinion and _expression necessary to promote the building of the global information society and ensure a successful second phase of the World Summit. We are therefore obliged to express our disappointment that the government of Tunisia did not take advantage of this important opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of _expression and assembly in Tunisia. We hope that the successful outcome of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia will provide additional incentive to the government in Tunisia to match its considerable economic and social accomplishments with comparable progress in political reform and respect for the human rights of its people.
The Muslim Brotherhood believes that democratic reforms could trigger a renaissance in Egypt
The violence that has erupted across Egypt in recent days is the result of government panic at the success of the Muslim Brotherhood - even in the rigged polls that pass for elections in the Arab world's most populous country. As the second round of voting opened on Sunday in Egypt's tightly restricted parliamentary contest, around 500 of our members were arrested at dawn and machete-wielding thugs attacked our supporters at polling stations. But the provocations of a corrupt, oppressive government - backed by the most powerful countries in the world - will not intimidate either our organization, which has survived for 77 years, or the Egyptian people, who have increasingly come to trust us.
Despite the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood - or rather because of it - the organization continues to be banned in Egypt. Nevertheless, by standing as independents whose affiliation is widely known, 17 of our members managed to be elected as the largest opposition group in the last parliament.
Given the pressure for change, we mobilized to win more seats in the hope that these new elections would be more honest and free. We are committed to democracy and to respect fair election results, whatever the outcome. But we have contested only 120 of the 444 parliamentary seats, knowing that standing for more might provoke the regime into fixing the results. The first round of parliamentary elections, in which the Muslim Brotherhood won more than 65% of seats it contested despite large-scale rigging and intimidation, confirm that our movement is seen by the public as a viable political alternative. But in spite of the confidence the Egyptian people have in us, we are not seeking more than a small piece of the parliamentary cake. This decision is dictated by political realities, both locally and internationally: in other words, the possible reaction of a repressive government backed to the hilt by the US and other western governments.
What we want to do instead is trigger a renaissance in Egypt, rooted in the religious values upon which Egyptian culture and society is built; for we believe these values can effectively deal with the obstacles that have hindered reform and development. At present, political life in Egypt is plagued by apathy; only a few parties with puny followings are officially allowed to join the political process. The priority is therefore to revitalize political life so that citizens can join a real debate about the solutions to Egypt's chronic problems and the sort of future we want for our country. We believe that the domination of political life by a single political party or group, whether the ruling party, the Muslim Brotherhood or any other, is not desirable: the only result of such a monopoly is the alienation of the majority of the people.
Our aim in seeking to win a limited number of seats in parliament is to create an effective parliamentary bloc that, in conjunction with others, can energize an inclusive debate about the priorities of reform and development. Not a single political, religious, social or cultural group should be excluded from Egypt's political life. The objective must be to end the monopoly of government by a single party and boost popular engagement in political activity.
Second, we would hope to contribute to achieving significant political and constitutional reforms: in particular, to remove restrictions imposed by the regime on political activity and give the parliament a much bigger say than it has now. Without real powers to question the executive, parliament will remain a mere facade. Third, we would hope to contribute to greatly needed social, cultural and economic reforms. Such reforms can take place only once the grip of the state executive is regulated by an independent legislature and independent judiciary.
The success of the Muslim Brotherhood should not frighten anybody: we respect the rights of all religious and political groups. So much damage has been inflicted on the country over the past century because of despotism and corruption that it would be impossible to embark on wider political reform and economic development without first repairing the damage to our basic institutions. Free and fair democratic elections are the first step along the path of reform toward a better future for Egypt and the entire region. We simply have no choice today but to reform.
ISLAMISTS' STRENGTH PUTS EGYPT RULERS ON BACK FOOT
Reuters, le 23.11.2005
CAIRO, Nov 23 (Reuters) - A strong showing by the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections has caught Egypt's rulers off guard and could shake up politics in the biggest Arab country, analysts say.
The Brotherhood has won 47 of parliament's 444 elected seats with more than half of the places still to be decided in voting which lasts into December. The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has won about 120 seats.
While independent monitors say the NDP has widely resorted to bribery and coercion to get out the vote, the Brotherhood has shown the depth of its support by mobilizing thousands of activists and winning seats despite a crackdown.
Analysts say the results are significant even if the Islamists pose no challenge to power for now.
"The message is that you need much more than simple forms of bribery. You need ideology, faith. You need politics and obviously the NDP don't have much of that," said political analyst Mohamed el-Sayed Said.
The Brotherhood has tripled its strength in parliament. However, the chamber's powers are limited next to those of President Hosni Mubarak, who has governed Egypt under emergency laws since 1981.
The Brotherhood is contesting only a third of the seats so as not to provoke the authorities, which frequently clamp down on the group on the grounds it is officially outlawed.
Islamist candidates run as independents to sidestep the ban.
The Islamists made strong gains in the first two days of voting, making the most of leeway from the authorities. But police this week arrested more than 450 of their activists. Gangs and police blocked Islamists from voting in some places.
The front page of the state's al-Ahram newspaper reported the Islamists' progress early in the elections, but did not mention its wins this week, which outnumbered those of the NDP.
"The government reckoned (the Brotherhood) had some strength, but not this amount," said Abdel Halim Kandil, an Arab nationalist opposition figure.
Leading Brotherhood member Essam el-Erian said between one fifth and a quarter of support for his group at the ballot box came from people casting a protest vote against the government, but the rest came from genuine supporters.
"HEALTHY FOR DEMOCRACY"
Analysts say the Brotherhood's wins are a slap in the face for the NDP and Gamal Mubarak -- the president's son who has led efforts to restructure the party and steered campaigning for both presidential and legislative elections this year.
The NDP would have to rethink its policies and approach, sociologist Saadeddin Ibrahim said.
"They thought that through their technocratic planning they had this election well sewn up," he said. "The absent element from their equation is what the Muslim Brothers have and what Ayman Nour used to have -- the pulse of the street," he said.
Nour, leader of the secular opposition Ghad party, lost his seat to the NDP on the first day of voting. One of Egypt's most prominent opposition figures, his supporters say the authorities used foul play to oust him from parliament.
The government says it does not interfere in elections.
Secular opposition parties, weakened by decades of authoritarian rule, have so far won only a handful of seats.
But the Brotherhood, founded in 1928, has proved more resilient to limited freedoms, partly because of its use of mosques to reach the public and build support and its provision of basic services and charity, observers say.
While the Islamists' success has worried Christians and secularists, Ibrahim said it should galvanize politics. "This is going to be healthy for democracy in the long run," he said.
"It's going to energize the political community at large because the other parties will have to get their acts together. The government would be well advised to give them freedom of movement and action so they can develop their muscles," he said.
Others see the Brotherhood's success as a worrying sign of the weakness of politics in Egypt. It showed that "the country is now almost totally Islamized," said political analyst Said.
"The whole country is in big trouble. There's not much politics. There's no rational discourse. People act on the assumption the Muslim Brotherhood are the most religious."
By Anne Gearan
MANAMA, Bahrain -- A U.S.-backed conference to promote Middle East democracy ended in chaos yesterday, with Egyptians leaving early after blocking Bush administration proposals to subsidize groups that promote political reform.
A draft declaration on democratic and economic principles that was to be released in a closing press conference was shelved instead because of Egyptian objections.
With U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice present, Egypt Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit left early.
"We didn't withdraw" from the conference, Mr. Gheit said later. "What happened is that the meeting took so long, more than it was scheduled."
President Bush hosted a coming-out party for the Forum for the Future last year at Sea Island, Ga., and the United States is putting up half of the $100 million in a venture-capital fund for economic development established at the gathering this year. The fund includes $50 million from the United States, with contributions from Egypt, Morocco and Denmark.
The White House had hoped the conference would showcase political progress in a part of the world long dominated by monarchies and single-party rule and would spread good will for the United States.
American officials seemed startled that an ally, Egypt, threw up a roadblock. Egypt receives nearly $2 billion annually in U.S. aid, second only to Israel. The country held its first multiparty elections this year, but Egypt remains under de facto one-party rule and the firm control of President Hosni Mubarak.
Earlier yesterday, Miss Rice, speaking to ministers at the 36-nation conference, said that Washington supports the people of Syria and their "aspirations for liberty, democracy and justice under the rule of law."
The conference began to unravel during tense and ultimately unsuccessful negotiations over the language of a final statement. Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, told reporters that the declaration will come up again, perhaps at a gathering scheduled for Jordan next year.
Many Middle East nations are wary of Mr. Bush's second-term democracy agenda for the region. Some private organizations that the administration has tried to engage are reluctant to take money from the United States.
"It would be a disaster for this region if the region thought democracy is an American idea," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said at the closing press conference, where a final statement, or communique, had been expected to be released.
In addition to the $100 million venture-capital fund, the conference also started a $50 million foundation aimed at promoting democracy and political change in the Middle East. Both initiatives were shepherded by Liz Cheney, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state. The vice president's daughter accompanied Miss Rice on a Mideast trip to Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank.
U.S. officials said the sticking point was a passage in the declaration that pledged "to expand democratic practices, to enlarge participation in political and public life and to foster the roles of civil society," including nongovernmental organizations, and to widen women's political and economic participation.
The U.S. State Department and others describe nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, as both humanitarian aid organizations, such as the Red Cross, and lesser-known advocacy groups that promote political reform.
Egypt wanted the statement to stipulate that those organizations be "legally registered" under each country's laws. U.S. officials said the requirement would undermine the purpose of the statement.
Groups covered in the disputed language increasingly are active in Egypt, and they often find themselves at odds with the government.
Egypt's ruling party secured the most seats last week in the first stage of parliamentary balloting that was considered a test of Mr. Mubarak's pledges of electoral reform. The opposition said there were widespread irregularities at the polls.
November 29, 2005
[Anatol Lieven is a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation. His latest book is America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism.]
US global power, as presently conceived by the overwhelming majority of the US establishment, is unsustainable. To place American power on a firmer footing requires putting it on a more limited footing. Despite the lessons of Iraq, this is something that American policymakers - Democrat and Republican, civilian and military - still find extremely difficult to think about.
The basic reasons why the American empire is bust are familiar from other imperial histories. The empire can no longer raise enough taxes or soldiers, it is increasingly indebted and key vassal states are no longer reliable. In an equally classical fashion, central to what is happening is the greed and decadence of the imperial elites. Like so many of their predecessors, the US wealthy classes have gained a grip over the state that allows them to escape taxation. Mass acquiescence in this has to be bought with much smaller - but fiscally equally damaging - cuts to taxes on the middle classes.
The result is that the empire can no longer pay for enough of the professional troops it needs to fulfill its self-assumed imperial tasks. It cannot introduce conscription because of the general demilitarization of society and also because elite youths are no longer prepared to set an example of leadership and sacrifice by serving themselves. The result is that the US is incapable of waging more wars of occupation, such as in Iraq. It can defeat other states in battle easily enough but it cannot turn them into loyal or stable allies. War therefore means simply creating more and more areas of anarchy and breeding grounds for terrorism.
It is important to note that this US weakness affects not only the ambitions of the Bush administration, but also geopolitical stances wholly shared by the Democrats. The Bush administration deserves to be savagely criticized for the timing and the conduct of the Iraq war. Future historians may, however, conclude that President Bill Clinton's strategy of the 1990s would also have made the conquest of Iraq unavoidable sooner or later; and that given the realities of Iraqi society and history, the results would not have been significantly less awful. For that matter, can present US strategy against Iran - supported by both parties - be sustained permanently without war? Indeed, given the nature of the Middle East, may it not be that any power wishing to exercise hegemony in the region would have to go to war at regular intervals in defense of its authority or its local clients?
Furthermore, the relative decline in US economic independence means that, unlike in 1917 or 1941, really serious war risks US economic disaster. Even a limited US-Chinese clash over Taiwan would be likely to produce catastrophic economic consequences for both sides.
In theory, the desirable US response to its imperial overstretch is simple and has been advocated by some leading independent US thinkers such as Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard.* It is to fall back on "offshore balancing", intended to create regional coalitions against potential aggressors and, when possible, regional consensuses in support of order and stability. Not just a direct military presence, but direct military commitments and alliances should be avoided wherever possible.
When, however, one traces what this might mean in practice in various parts of the world, it becomes clear how utterly unacceptable much of this approach would be to the entire existing US political order. In the former Soviet Union, it could mean accepting a qualified form of Russian sphere of influence. In Asia, it could mean backing Japan and other countries against any Chinese aggression, but also defusing the threat of confrontation with China by encouraging the reintegration of Taiwan into the mainland. In the Middle East, it could involve separating US goals from Israeli ones and seeking detente with Iran.
Impossible today, some at least of these moves may, however, prove inescapable in a generation's time. For it is pointless to dream of long maintaining an American empire for which most Americans will neither pay nor fight. My fear though is that, rather than as a result of carefully planned and peaceful strategy, this process may occur through disastrous defeats, in the course of which American global power will not be qualified but destroyed altogether, with potentially awful consequences for the world.
In 2000, the assets of of all Americans were $40.7 trillion; U.S. government liabilities were $20.4 trillion. In 2004, the assets of of all Americans were $47.2 trillion; U.S. government liabilities were $43.3 trillion.
Source: Mohsin Ali O.B.E., former diplomatic correspondent for Reuters, December 1, 2005
Robert King, Indianapolis Star, 11/15/05
A U.S. Senate committee found nothing "alarming" in the financial records of the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North America and nearly two dozen other Muslim groups the committee reviewed searching for terrorist connections.
"Of course we were sure that nothing would come out with regard to ISNA, but it is good to see that they have come to that conclusion as well," said Louay Safi, executive director of an Islamic Society program that develops new Muslim leaders.
In seeking the tax records of the Muslim groups in December 2003, Senate Finance Committee leaders said they would look at the "crucial role that charities and foundations play in terror financing" and that "often these groups are nothing more than shell companies."
But almost two years later, the committee has concluded its work with no plans to issue a report, forward any findings to law enforcement agents, hold hearings or propose new legislation. . .
The Senate investigation was widely reported, casting doubt on the Islamic Society at a time many Muslims in the United States were viewed suspiciously because of the terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Arsalan Iftikhar, national legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Senate Finance Committee had gone on a "fishing expedition" that did nothing but reinforce the idea that Muslims are guilty until proven innocent when it comes to terrorism accusations.
"Unfortunately," Iftikhar said, "I think this is indicative of federal law enforcement's dragnet against the American Muslim community."
By Mustapha Khalfi
The role of the Congress in shaping U.S. policy on democracy promotion in the Middle East is multifaceted. Not only does the Congress provide funding for democracy promotion, but it also helps formulate a strategic vision, monitors the administration's work, and recommends structural revisions in the administration to help achieve the goals set. Recent Congressional efforts, however, reinforce rather than redress critical flaws in the administration's approach to democracy promotion.
The Advance Democracy Act of 2005 is the most important bill to come out of the Congress on democracy promotion since the 1983 initiative to establish the National Endowment for Democracy. Initially introduced in March 2005 by Republican Senator John McCain and Congressman Frank Wolf with support from key Democrats, such as Senator Joseph Lieberman and Congressman Tom Lantos, the bill obtained greater significance when it was incorporated into the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 2006 and 2007 (H.R. 2601). The bill passed in the House of Representatives on July 20 by a vote of 351 to 78, and is still pending approval in the Senate. There have also been numerous other draft bills related to democracy promotion during 2005.
The Advance Democracy Act materialized in the context of changing U.S. rhetoric on democratization and the acknowledgment of U.S. shortcomings in democracy promotion. As such, the bill's introductory observation is that the continued lack of democracy in some countries is inconsistent with the universal values on which the United States is based and that this situation poses a national security threat to the United States and its friends.
The House International Relations Committee placed this initiative within the general goal of strengthening democracy promotion inside the Department of State. By using democracy promotion as a tool for furthering other U.S. foreign policy interests, however, the Congress has repeated the administration's errors. The Congress avoided this mistake in 1983 when it refused to place the Reagan administration's democracy programs within the United States Information Agency. Instead, it called for such programs to be administered by a non-governmental organization, leading to the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The Senate also passed a bill that no one involved in intelligence activities since 1963 should be employed in the NED to avoid any suspicion that the Endowment would be a front for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The current bill attempts to shape State Department democracy promotion efforts on both the structural and programmatic levels. On the structural level, it calls for a change in the title of the Undersecretary for Global Affairs to Undersecretary for Democracy and Global Affairs (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made this change on July 29). It also calls for the establishment of an office within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to promote transitions to full democracy in countries that have been categorized as undemocratic. Second, it creates regional democracy hubs at U.S. missions abroad. Third, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research is tasked with documenting financial assets held by leaders of countries determined to be undemocratic or in transition. Fourth, it stipulates the establishment of a bipartisan Democracy Promotion and Human Rights Advisory Board, which would make democracy promotion one of the criteria on which Foreign Service officers are evaluated for purposes of promotion.
On the programmatic level, the initiative mandates that the Secretary of State prepare an annual report on democracy and calls for the establishment of a website for global democracy and human rights. As part of an outreach program in foreign countries, it encourages Chiefs of Mission to spend time in universities defending U.S. values and discussing policies that promote democracy. Linking democracy promotion to public diplomacy on behalf of U.S. goals, however, is a critical flaw in the initiative.
At first glance, the Advance Democracy Act of 2005 appears to be an improvement of the administration's policies because it emphasizes the need to formulate specific strategies for democracy promotion. But an overall assessment shows that it is burdened by some of the same shortcomings symptomatic of administration policy. Treating democracy promotion as a tool of U.S. foreign policy rather than as a goal of policy will lead to its getting lost amid other U.S. security, strategic, economic, and even ideological interests. Creating a structure analogous to the NED inside the State Departmentwhich the Act funds at $50 million for 2006 and $60 million for 2007, not much below the $80 million for 2006 authorized for the NEDwill only compound such confusion.
Democracy promotion is a good in itself and should not be put at the service of other goals such as improving the U.S. image or gathering support for other U.S. policies. For this reason it is best pursued by organizations such as the NED rather than from within the State Department.
Mustapha Khalfi is a Moroccan journalist and Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is a Fulbright/American Political Science Association Congressional fellow studying U.S. policy in the Middle East. This article was translated from Arabic by Julia Choucair.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council sends its deepest condolences to the Akkad family for the tragedy that occurred earlier this week.
Moustapha Akkad, a Syrian-American filmmaker based in Los Angeles, was injured and later passed away in an Amman hospital as a result of the recent suicide bombings in the Jordanian capital. Rima Akkad al-Monla, his daughter, was killed directly by the attack. The two were attending a wedding in one of the hotels that was targeted.
Moustapha Akkad, both a producer and director, is well known among the Muslim community for his 1976 movie, "The Message," which tells the story of the early Muslim community as it was formed and developed in Arabia. Five years later, he directed and produced "Lion of the Desert," an epic film about a man who leads a rebellion against the Italians in Libya. In each of these movies, history was brought to life in a brilliant and exceptional manner. Akkad has also completed eight "Halloween" movies, and was working on the ninth before the calamity.
As an Arab Muslim, Moustapha Akkad overcame the difficulty of being a stereotyped minority in Hollywood and was able to achieve an unparalleled level of success as such. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Theater Arts and working for MGM and the CBS TV News Department, he flourished on his own with the creation of several of his own production companies that produced his epic and thrilling movies. Akkad had a passion for cinema that, in fact, inspired one of his sons, Malik, to follow in his footsteps and become a filmmaker as well.
Moustapha Akkad is survived by his former (divorced) wife, Patricia Akkad and their sons, Tarik (Orange County resident) and Malik (Film producer in LA), as well as his current wife, Suha Ascha Akkad, and their son Zaid (student at USC).
Rima Akkad al-Monla is survived by her husband, Ziad al-Monla, and their two sons, Tarek (4 years old) and Mustafa (2 years old). The family resides in Trablos, Lebanon.
Upon the arrival of Akkad's family from his burial in his birthplace of Aleppo, Syria, there will be a memorial for him on November 13 in the Los Angeles area. The details are to be announced.
The tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, poverty in Africa, Middle East unrest, violence and disease on our doorstep--2005 tested our faith, courage, and compassion in unimaginable ways. Each nominee for this year's Most Inspiring Person award met the challenge with heroism and selflessness--overturning stereotypes of gender, age, background, disability, and victimization to show the world the meaning of courage.
To VOTE, go to: http://www.beliefnet.com/index/index_912.html
The United Nations (U.N) has started a new action... go to UN's hunger website (http://www.thehungersite.com) and click the yellow button ( give free food) which appears at the center of the web site. When you do that, a hungry person anywhere in the world is given a food allowance. The cost of the food is paid by sponsor companies whose logos are shown on the website. Our whole responsibility is just to go website and to click yellow button. This action is limited, so you can only click one time per a day. Therefore, please send this email to all people you know, and every morning when you turn on your computer, help these people by going this website.
Left Behind, the bestselling series of paranoid, pro-Israel end-time thrillers, may sound kooky, but America's right-wing leaders really believe this stuff.
By Michelle Goldberg
July 29, 2002 | The most popular novel in America right now is one in which the world is tyrannized by the former secretary general of the U.N., who operates from Iraq, and his global force of storm troopers, called "peacekeepers." Revered rabbis evangelize for Christ, repenting Israel's "specific national sin" of "rejecting the messiah-ship of Jesus." Much of the world is deceived by a false prophet, part of the inner circle of the Antichrist, who seems a lot like the pope -- he's a Catholic cardinal, "all robed and hatted and vested in velvet and piping."
"The Remnant," which debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, is the 10th entry in Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's phenomenally popular "Left Behind" series, a Tom Clancy-meets-Revelation saga of the Rapture, the Tribulation and, presumably, the eventual return of Jesus. Last year's "Desecration," the ninth volume of a projected 14, was 2001's bestselling hardcover novel. There is probably very little overlap between Salon's readership and the audience for apocalyptic Christian fiction, but these books and their massive success deserve attention if only for what they tell us about the core beliefs of a great many people in this country, people whose views shape the way America behaves in the world.
After all, Tim LaHaye isn't merely a fringe figure like Hal Lindsey, the former king of the genre, whose 1970 Christian end-times book "The Late Great Planet Earth" was the bestseller of that decade. The former co-chairman of Jack Kemp's presidential campaign, LaHaye was a member of the original board of directors of the Moral Majority and an organizer of the Council for National Policy, which ABCNews.com has called "the most powerful conservative organization in America you've never heard of" and whose membership has included John Ashcroft, Tommy Thompson and Oliver North. George W. Bush is still refusing to release a tape of a speech he gave to the group in 1999.
The point isn't that all these leaders are part of some kind of right-wing Illuminati. It's simply that the seemingly wacky ideology promulgated in the Left Behind books is one that important people in America are quite comfortable with. The Left Behind series provides a narrative and a theological rationale for a whole host of perplexing conservative policies, from the White House's craven decision to cut off aid to the United Nations Family Planning Fund to America's surreally casual mobilization for an invasion of Baghdad -- a city that is, in the Left Behind books, Satan's headquarters.
Political attitudes and actions that make no practical or moral sense to secularists become comprehensible when viewed through Christian pop culture's eschatological looking glass. At a time when America is flagrantly flouting international law, spurning the U.N. and tacitly supporting the land grabs of Israeli maximalists, surely it's significant that the most popular fiction in the country creates a gripping narrative that pits American Christians against a conspiracy of Satan-worshipping, abortion-promoting, gun-controlling globalists -- all of it revolving around the sovereignty of Israel.
Israel is the key to the theology that dominates Left Behind (as well as much of American evangelical Christianity). In the religion, as in the series, the rapture is kicked off by a military attack on the country, which survives almost unscathed (though the first Left Behind, written before the current intifada, had Russian aggressors rather than Arabs). Indeed, the chain of events that lead to the return of Christ depends on the existence of a Holy Land that is under catastrophic assault. No wonder the born-again lobby is obsessed with Israeli self-defense, but opposed to any peace plan.
Those Israeli settlements in the West Bank that add so much kindling to the conflagration in the Middle East are often "adopted" and funded by American evangelical churches whose members are devouring a novel that depicts Jews reclaiming Palestinian land, moving Al-Aqsa Mosque out of Jerusalem and rebuilding the second temple on the Dome of the Rock. The chosen people are suddenly the darlings of the religious right, while a bestseller promotes the idea that Jews will soon convert to Christianity -- and atone for their centuries of stubbornness -- en masse.
Of course, it's not that every reader of the more than 50 million Left Behind books sold so far is an end-times fundamentalist any more than every Eminem fan is a homophobe. Nor are the books guaranteed to change their audiences' views on American foreign policy -- the relationship between culture and politics is never that simple. But the stories people tell themselves about the world necessarily shape the way they act in it, and right now, this is the story that's captivating America.
On one level, the attraction of the Left Behind books isn't that much different from that of, say, Tom Clancy or Stephen King. The plotting is brisk and the characterizations Manichean. People disappear and things blow up. Revelation is, after all, supremely creepy, which is why it gets so much play in horror flicks from "Rosemary's Baby" to "End of Days."
The opening sequence of the first Left Behind book is gripping and cinematic. Rayford Steele, an unhappily married commercial pilot, is flying to London and contemplating an affair with a stewardess, when, handing the controls over to his co-pilot and walking into the cabin, he finds her hysterical. People throughout the plane have disappeared, their clothes left in neat piles on their seats.
"This was no joke, no trick, no dream," Jenkins and LaHaye write. "Something was terribly wrong, and there was no place to run."
Returning to America, Steele finds a world in chaos. All real Christians -- as opposed to mere churchgoers -- as well as children and fetuses out of wombs have vanished. Planes flown by believers have crashed, along with cars driven by the faithful. The media struggles to make sense of it, but Rayford, whose marital troubles were caused by his wife's newfound religious passion, knows what happened. His wife had told him that Christians would be raptured up to heaven in preparation for the rise of the Antichrist, his nefarious seven-year reign and the Second Coming of Jesus.
The Left Behind books chronicle those seven years -- known to Christians as the Tribulation -- as a ragtag group of new believers form the "Tribulation Force" to thwart the murderous plans of Nicolae Carpathia, the U.N.-leader-cum-prince-of-darkness (often just called "the evil one," Osama bin Laden-style). Carpathia's rise is engineered by a cabal of bankers. He's supported by Israeli liberals enthralled by his devious promises of peace, and a Democratic American president sells out the country to Carpathia's one-world government. Meanwhile, the Tribulation Force finds a spiritual leader in Tsion Ben-Judah, a rabbi and former Israeli statesman who realizes the error of his Jewish ways and becomes a guerrilla media evangelist.
It's bizarre that more attention hasn't been paid to the series' open hostility to the Jewish religion, if not the Jewish people. Imagine if, say, James Carville wrote a novel in which a band of heroic gay socialists defeated a voracious army of slack-jawed Bible-quoting Republicans to turn the world into a gigantic French-speaking free-love commune. He'd be crucified on the talk shows, and all kinds of sinister motives would be impugned to the Democratic Party.
That a Republican player can create a blockbuster media empire out of analogous extremism suggests two seemingly contradictory things. First, Christian paranoia has become so mainstream that few see fit to remark on it anymore. Second, while the novels' popularity has received lots of media attention, their actual content is utterly off the radar of the kind of people who write about books. Nobody, it seems -- except, of course, for the series' millions of fans -- is reading Left Behind.
The Left Behind books actually play on that sense of being unfairly ignored, reveling in the moment when smug agnostics, insufficiently zealous Christians and, most of all, Jews realize how terribly wrong they were. As Gersholm Gorenberg wrote of the books in his "The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount," "Christianity's ancient, anxious amazement that the people who know the Old Testament best don't accept that it leads to Jesus (don't, in fact, accept that it is Old Testament) is at last disarmed."
Cannily, the authors make their protagonists disbelievers who are disdainful of fundamentalism. That means that doubters can relate to them and are thus drawn into their dawning religious consciousness, while believers get the satisfaction of seeing the heroes come around to their point of view. By having even minor characters recount their conversions, Jenkins and LaHaye make sure that each volume has moments when readers can enjoy a bit of high-minded revenge against mocking urbanites.
The writers take a special pleasure in the self-abnegation of supposedly sophisticated media types. In "The Remnant," a British reporter makes an appearance solely to explain her salvation. "All I can say is that the enemy has a stronghold over the mind until one surrenders to God," she says. "I was a pragmatist, proud, a journalist. I wanted control over my own destiny. Things had to be proved to me." Now born-again, she tells Steele that she's mystified by her former "lunacy."
The plotting alone certainly isn't enough to sustain attention in "The Remnant." That wasn't true of the first book -- theology aside, the setup of the original Left Behind makes for a strangely compelling thriller. The stage is the whole world gone mad, and the story roils with international intrigue. Jenkins and LaHaye are very good at turning esoteric biblical augury into real-world scenarios, and they get the action going before they start inserting too many sermons into the mix.
So simple fascination with a good story might have accounted for the book's initial success -- after all, audiences don't necessarily endorse the politics behind every action adventure they devour.
But by the time "The Remnant" starts, the suspense has pretty much died, because the story has the ultimate deus ex machina. Whenever things look grim for our heroes, when the enemy is closing in and there's nowhere to run, they're saved at the last minute by ... God. At the beginning of "The Remnant," Ben-Judah is encamped, Moses-like, with a million followers in the Jordanian desert. Carpathia's forces unleash a devastating bombing raid, but thanks to God, the resulting "massive sea of raging flames" leaves the so-called Judah-ites untouched. God can also be relied upon to speed up computer searches and drop plenty of nourishing manna on his blockaded flock. In the wittiest scene in "The Remnant," God is literally a co-pilot, sending an angel to help fly a plane during a tense getaway.
There's not much drama in the repeated victories of an omnipotent being, but that's not the only thing that makes "The Remnant" sluggish. In order to stretch out the series for so long, Jenkins and LaHaye have larded it with tedious subplots and countless techno-geek scenes in which a crafty Christian hacker named Chang sabotages Carpathia's plans or creates false identities for his comrades. About a third of "The Remnant" concerns the rescue of a Tribulation Force pilot named George Sebastian from Greece. The action mostly involves the characters driving around, splitting up, reconnoitering and then trying to find each other.
The Remnant has very little in the way of climactic good vs. evil showdowns. While there is a bit of supernatural deviltry (masses of vipers attack believers lured from Ben-Judah's protection by agents of the False Prophet) and some martyrdom (though not of any main characters), most of the story follows members of the Tribulation Force jetting around the globe running various errands. The nuclear annihilation of Chicago rates just a few lines, while the cellphone codes the Force uses to communicate gets several pages.
Left Behind cloaks itself in the conventions of ordinary airport thrillers, but it does far more than just provide a Christian alternative to decadent mainstream entertainment. It creates a Christian theory of everything, one that slates current events into a master narrative in which the world is destroyed and then remade to evangelical specifications. It's an alternate universe in which conservative Middle Americans are vindicated against everyone who doesn't share their beliefs -- especially liberals and Jews.
There's nothing wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to their fantasies. But LaHaye and Jenkins are at pains to show that the Left Behind books are meant as more than fiction. They write on the Left Behind Web site, "While it is true that in the broad spectrum of Protestant Christianity there are multiple views of the end-times scenario, the pre-millennialist theology found in the Left Behind Series is the prominent view among evangelical Christians, including their leading seminaries such as Talbot Seminary, Trinity Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary."
So the rest of us can ignore Left Behind, or chuckle at its over-the-top Christian kitsch. We should keep in mind, though, that for some of the most powerful people in the world, this stuff isn't melodrama. It's prophecy.
About the writer: Michelle Goldberg is a staff writer for Salon based in New York.
REPORT FROM THE CHAIR
I will seek to build on the excellent work of previous section leaders in encouraging and recognizing all types of political science research on issues of democratization, in order to help you in your work while sustaining and ideally increasing the sections membership. One way to do this is to continue to publicize more extensively our section awards for best book, best article, and best field work; the Juan Linz best dissertation award (which was handed out for the first time last year); and a best convention paper award that we will give next year as well. In a separate e-mail, I will be highlighting all of our awards and encouraging nominations.
Another way to strengthen our section is to coordinate more with other organized sections and with Related Groups with which we have overlapping memberships to expand panel offerings on comparative democratization themes at APSA conventions. We all are appreciative of the hard work of our program chair for the 2006 APSA Convention, Mark Jones, who will soon be hard at work putting together the convention panels now that the panel submission deadline has passed. The good news is that our allocation for 2006 is up from last year, to 23 panels. A key for the section continuing to have more panels lies in attendance at section panels, an area in which we had only a fair record in 2005.
Newsletter Editor (ex officio): Thomas W. Skladony, Senior Program Officer, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy,
NEW BOOKS - MIDDLE EAST
Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Regimes and Resistance. Edited By Marsha Pripstein Posusney and Michele Penner Angrist. Lynne Rienner, 2005. 275 pp.
Civil Society in the Muslim World: Contemporary Perspectives. Edited by Amyn Sajoo. I.B. Tauris, 2004. 339 pp.
Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Renewed Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. By David Makovsky. Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005. 139 pp.
Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. By Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson. University of Chicago Press, 2005. 345 pp.
The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq. Edited by Brendan OLeary et al. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. 384 pp.
Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse. By Mansoor Moaddel. University of Chicago Press, 2005. 424 pp.
Modernity, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey: Bodies, Places, and Time. By Alev inar. University of Minnesota Press, 2005. 197 pp.
Rethinking Islam and Liberal Democracy: Islamist Women in Turkish Politics. By Yesim Arat. State University of New York, 2005. 150 pp.
The Right War? The Conservative Debate on Iraq. Edited by Gary Rosen. Cambridge University Press, 2005. 254 pp.
The Road Ahead: Middle East Policy in the Bush Administrations Second Term. Edited by Flynt Leverett. Brookings Institution Press, 2005. 107 pp.
Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians. By Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley. Temple University Press, 2005. 224 pp.
Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Modern Times. By Margaret K. Nydell. 4th ed. Intercultural Press, 2005. 202 pp.
CSID DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
INTERFAITH YOUTH CORE PROGRAM ASSISTANT
The Interfaith Youth Core is a Chicago-based international organization that seeks to encourage better understanding and cooperative service among religiously diverse youth through our various programs that build the interfaith youth work movement. See www.ifyc.org for more information. This is a young and rapidly growing organization.
This individual provides proficient and advanced support to the Executive Program Director and assists in coordination and advancement of IFYC Chicago program activities such the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Interfaith Youth Service and IFYC national program activities such as the Conference on Interfaith Youth Work.
Status: Full-time position, 40-50 hours/week. Starts January 3, 2006.
Compensation: Salary mid-twenties, based on experience; healthcare, personal time and professional development benefits.
National Endowment for Democracy, Program Assistant for Africa
International Republican Institute, Resident Program Officer, Jakarta, Indonesia
International Republican Institute, Resident Country Director for Sudan
National Democratic Institute, Woman's Participation Expert, Afghanistan
IFES-democracy at large, Chief of Party, Kabul, Afghanistan
IFES-democracy at large, Senior Program Manager (A09), Washington, D.C.
Transparency International, Publications and Online Manager, Berlin, Germany
Creative Associates International, Inc, Chief of Party Middle East Media Strengthening Programs, Egypt and Palestine
بصوت مسموع: إن عجِزنا ... عن هذا التوافق... فما البديل؟
محمد جابر الأنصاري (*)
علينا أن نعترف بشجاعة أن أصحاب الاتجاهات الإسلامية يمثلون الغالبية العظمى في المجتمعات العربية. ومن ليس منهم فإنه متعاطف معهم. وبلا شك فإن قسماً من أصحاب هذه الاتجاهات يمثلون للأسف تشدداً وإرهاباً وعنفاً لا يمكن التحاور معه سياسياً (وإن كانت ثمة تقارير غربية تشير إلى أن جهات في الدول الكبرى تلوح لهم بالتحاور وتمرير الصفقات معهم إن أمكن، ولا نستبعد إقدام الأوساط الغربية على ذلك فهو نهجها في رعاية مصالحها!)...
غير أن قسماً آخر من الاتجاهات الإسلامية يميل إلى الاعتدال وينبذ العنف، ويدين الإرهاب، ويدخل الانتخابات البرلمانية في ظل الشرعيات القائمة للدول العربية، فهل نتركها أيضاً لسفراء الدول؟ وبطبيعة الحال فهذه التنظيمات وفي ظل ما تعرضت وتتعرض له ليست حمائم بيضاء مسالمة، وهي لها أجندتها العقائدية. وثمة حكمة سائدة في أوساط التيار الآخر في العالم العربي، التيار العصري بمختلف أطيافه على أن هذه التنظيمات الدينية المعتدلة لا يؤتمن جانبها وقد تقلب الطاولة في أية لحظة، فيتحول المرجئة إلى خوارج، والمعتزلة إلى قرامطة، إذا شئنا استخدام المصطلحات التراثية من دون لهجة الاتهام المتبادل في لغتنا السياسية المعاصرة!.. (هذا مع تحفظي حيال تلك المصطلحات، فتلك أمة سلفت لها ما كسبت وعليها ما اكتسبت، وحياتنا اليوم يستحيل أن تكون استنساخاً للماضي).
وللأمانة فإني لا اعترض كلياً على هذه الحكمة السائدة، بل تساورني، بنفسي، بعض مخاوف منها. وإن كنت لا أسلم بها تسليماً تاماً. غير أن السياسة ليست فن الطمأنينة. ولا هي شركة تأمين توزع الضمانات وبوليصاتها للباحثين عن الاطمئنان. فالسياسة مراهنة خطرة في بعض الأحيان، وما حاجة المضطر إلا ركوبها. وفي ألمانيا اليوم يأتلف حزب كبير اسمه المسيحيون الديمقراطيون للمفارقة برئاسة إمرأة ومن الشطر الشرقي غير المتقدم مع حزب لا يقل عنه ثقلاً هو الاشتراكيون الديموقراطيون لقيادة ألمانيا الموحدة رغم مخاوف الافتراق.
وفي عالمنا العربي فمن حسن السياسة ألا يقاتل ما نسميه التيار العصري أو الليبرالي بمختلف ألوانه المتفرقة والتي لم تشكل بعد قوة سياسية ذات وزن، وتجد في مظلة الدولة العربية القائمة حماية لوجودها لأنها كما قلنا لا تملك أسناناً سياسية وهي ظاهرة أوضحنا إشكالاتها في مواضعها... نقول ليس من حسن السياسة أن يتقاتل هذا التيار ومعه الدول العربية القائمة ضد أوسع قطاعات المجتمع وفي جبهة متماسكة بين متطرفيها ومعتدليها. تجمعها المواجهة إلى رص صفوفها رصاً لن يكون إلا في صالح قوى التطرف الذي يسود عادة في كل التجمعات والتحالفات.
والواقع أن الخاطرة التي قررت أن أقدم على طرحها هنا بصوت مسموع، وأرجو ألا تكون خاطرة تفاؤلية أكثر مما يحتمله الواقع، قد ساورتني وأنا أشهد الصور التلفزيونية القادمة من مصر، أكبر بلداننا العربية وأكثرها تأثيراً ، والطرفان المتواجهان في مراكزها الانتخابية يتبادلان الضرب بالعصي والكراسي... فكيف سيتحاور نوابهما تحت قبة البرلمان لمصلحة الناس، خصوصاً ان كتلة الاتجاه الإسلامي، في ظل الانفتاح الديموقراطي الذي أقدمت عليه الدولة بمصر، استطاعت أن توصل عدداً لا بأس به من ممثليها إلى مجلس الشعب، في ظاهرة لم تحدث بمصر طوال أكثر من خمسين سنة. وقد سمعت الدكتور مصطفى الفقي، وهو مفكر قومي صاحب رأي متوازن، يقول في يوم الانتخابات التي فاز فيها وفي ضوء ما حدث من تجاذب في دائرته الانتخابية، أنه يشعر بضرورة تغيير العلاقة بين الحكومة والإخوان، وتجاوز ما يحدث بينهما... ولم يوضح لضيق الوقت ما يقصده، وربما ساورته من واقع التجربة فكرة مماثلة... وهذا شعوري ولا أحمله وزره!
ثم أن خيار التوافق أو استمرار المواجهة سيواجه المجتمعات العربية والإسلامية كافة في هذه المرحلة، وبعضها أخذ يسير فيها شوطاً، ولا بد من التعامل معها بمسؤولية سياسية وفكرية لا تتهرب من طبيعة المرحلة ومتطلباتها.
وهذه الخاطرة التي ساورتني أمام هذه النتائج، ولنترك مشاهدها الساخنة وراءنا أملاً في تجاوزها من أجل المستقبل، تدرجت في تفكيري على النحو الآتي: طالما أن الانفتاح الديموقراطي الجديد في مصر بقيادة الرئيس حسني مبارك، قد أدى إلى واقع سياسي جديد في البرلمان المصري، أقدم وأعرق المؤسسات البرلمانية في الوطن العربي، بما أعاد إليه دوره وشخصيته الرقابية والتشريعية بفتح المجال لتحاور الاتجاهين والصوتين، فهل من المستحيل سياسياً أقول سياسياً وليس فكرياً أو ايديولوجياً أن يبدأ تحاور سياسي بين الطرفين العصري والإسلامي من أجل هذا العهد الجديد الذي تشق الطريق إليه قيادة الرئيس مبارك من أجل مصر وعالمها العربي؟
بدايةً، ومن حيث الواقعية السياسية الخالصة، فإن الاستمرار في ذهنية المواجهة العنيفة بين الطرفين داخل البرلمان ستكون كارثة على التطور الديمقراطي العربي كله.
ثم أن الإسلاميين المعتدلين الذي وصلوا في ظل شرعية الدولة إلى البرلمان يمثلون قطاعاً لا يستهان به من القطاع المجتمعي العربي المتأثر معظمه بالحركات الإسلامية بين تشدد واعتدال، فهل نترك لجناح التشدد فرصة كسب الجولة التاريخية بالقول للمعتدلين: أنظروا... ها أنتم شاركتم ببرامج اعتدال ، فماذا كانت النتيجة؟ وأين وصلتم؟
وإذا لم يكن في مقدور قوى التحديث ومعه الدولة التحاور مع أقرب قطاع إسلامي إليها نهجاً، في غمرة اكتساح هائل للقوى الدينية لمجتمعاتها، فإنه عجز سياسي خطير يساوي العجز عن حماية المصير ومنجزات التقدم.
ومن أول شروط هذا التوافق المنشود أن يحدد الإسلاميون برامجهم البرلمانية والحكومية بوضوح تام لا ينطوي على أي التباس، ولا يثير الشكوك، مع الأهمية القصوى للاعتراف بحق الطرف الآخر المخالف في الوجود والتعبير والعمل كشريك شرعي في نسيج الأمة... وبلا مواربة. وليس سراً أن مواطنينا العرب من غير المسلمين يشعرون بعدم الثقة بالمستقبل حيال التشدد الديني ولا بد لدعاة النهج السياسي الديني أن يتحملوا من مسئوليتهم كاملة حيال هذا الأمر.
من جانب آخر، وفي ظل مثل هذا التوافق السياسي على العمل الوطني المشترك يتولى الإسلاميون بعض المسؤولية، ويظهرون قدرتهم على مواجهة الواقع المعاصر، وكيف يستطيع الفكر والفقه الإسلاميان التعامل مع معطياته ومستجداته بمسؤولية تتجاوز شكواهم المزمنة من الإقصاء وإبعاد الاجتهاد الإسلامي عن واقع الحياة. ومن خلال هذه التجربة العملية يستطيع المواطنون الحكم لهم أو عليهم، إيجاباً أو سلباً، في الانتخابات المقبلة، كما حدث في تجربة الأردن الديموقراطية على عهد الملك حسين منذ مطلع التسعينات، حيث تحددت معالم كثيره من خلال مسيرة التجربة من الطرفين ومع واقع المجتمع. من جانب آخر فإن ندوات المؤتمر القومي الإسلامي بمبادرات مركز دراسات الوحدة العربية في بيروت قد طرحت الكثير من الرؤى بشأن هذا التوجه، وهو ليس جديداً من الناحية الفكرية، إلا أن التعامل مع الواقع هو المحك الحقيقي لأية فكرة.
حان الوقت ليتجاوز الاخوان المسلمون حصاد التجربة المرة مع القوى الأخرى. فقد ظلوا في مصر بين 1945 1952 بعيدين عن أطراف الجبهة الوطنية المصرية بكل قواها فضيعوا على أنفسـهم وعلى الآخرين فرصة ثمينة من التعارف والتحاور والتفاعل مع الرأي الآخر. والطريف أن بعضهم لم يلتق مع التقدميين إلا في السجون فتحاوروا هناك في ظلماتها... فهل هذا المطلوب اليوم؟
وإذا كانوا قد دخلوا في تعاون غير معلن مع تنظيم الضباط الأحرار ودعموا حركة الجيش في سنواتها الأولى، فإن الاختلاف دب بين الطرفين لأمور تتعلق بالصراع على السلطة من ناحية ، وتتعلق بالموقف من قضايا العصر من ناحية أخرى ، ويجب أن نترك للتاريخ مسئولية هذا الخصام التعيس الذي تصوره سيد قطب بين الكنيسة والدولة في الغرب ، وذهب بنفسه ضحيةً له في بلـده ! ... وعلى ذكر سـيد قطـب ، فإن من أهـم متطلبات المرحلة أن يتجاوز الاخوان المسلمون مرحلته الفكرية المتأزمة التي كانت حصيلة سجنه المديد، بالعودة إلى سماحة فكر مؤسسيهم وقادتهم وعلى رأسهم حسن البنا الذي له من الأفكار والاجتهادات المتقدمة ما يستحق النظر، وكذلك مواقف خلفه حسن الهضيبي، الذي رغم ظروف السجن والملاحقة، ذكر الإخوان بأنهم دعاة لا قضاة يصدرون الأحكام ضد الآخرين معارضة لسيد قطب. ومنذ البدء فقد كان حسن البنا يدخل المقاهي وأماكن الترفيه ليدعو روادها بالتي هي أحسن ولم يدع هكذا إلى إغلاقها ومسحها من الوجود!
وكما عرفنا دعاة الإخوان المسلمين في مجتمعاتنا الخليجية قبل عقود فإن أغلبهم والشهادة لله، كانوا أناساً مصلحين، عاملين من أجل التربية والتطور واكتساب التقدم الحضاري، وسيكون مؤسفاً لو أتضح أن شبابهم وأجيالهم الجديدة أصبحوا بخلاف ذلك.
وأعلم أن الكثيرين في الخليج، ممن يحملون التقدير لذكرى عبدالناصر، لا يزالون يتذكرون المواقف الكيدية المضحكة لأولئك الدعاة ضده. لكنه منطق الصراع السياسي الأهوج الذي نأمل بأن يتحول إلى تفاهم وتوافق... حيث لم نكسب إلا الكوارث من ذلك التصارع؟ فهل لا يزال ذلك قدرنا أم ثمة بديل آخر أمامنا لكائنات عاقلة؟
هي مجرد خاطرة أردت طرحها بصوت مسموع لئلا تبقى من ذلك المسكوت عنه!
(*) كاتب ومفكر من البحرين.
(المصدر: صحيفة القدس العربي الصادرة يوم 26 نوفمبر 2005)
الأخوة الأقباط شركاء في الوطن
عصام العريان (*)
تأخر الإصلاح في مصر طويلاً، وعندما بدت بشائره في الأفق غمر البعض قلق وملأت نفوسهم مخاوف مشروعة ومفهومة أسبابها، إلا أنها في نظري يجب ألا تعوق انطلاق مسيرة الإصلاح من أجل استكمالها، واعتقد أنها ستُبدد مثل السحاب عندما تشرق شمس الحرية والإصلاح.
ما يحدث في مصر اليوم وضع تكرر في بلاد أخرى كثيرة عندما واجهت الظروف نفسها، وما حديث التحولات الكبرى في تاريخ الأمم عنا ببعيد. ما نريده نحن الإخوان المسلمون منذ ثلاثة أرباع القرن أن يتم التحول والتغيير بطريقة متدرجة وسلمية وبأكبر قدر من الهدوء والسلاسة من أجل إيجاد بيئة نفسية وثقافية وفكرية، فالتغيير سنة كونية إلهية، وعندما تتحقق الظروف المواتية، سنحقق ما نرجوه لبلادنا ومنطقتنا من نهضة كبرى نبنيها على أساس الإسلام العظيم: حضارة وثقافة.
وكل المواطنين، مسلمين ومسيحيين، شاركوا قبل قرون في بناء نهضات ماضية في تاريخنا الوسيط، هذه النهضة ستعيد ازدهار الحضارة العربية الإسلامية، حضارة تستظل بالإيمان بالله واليوم الآخر، حضارة تعيد للإنسان توازنه النفسي وتحقق له ذاته الضائعة، وتعيد بناء مكانته في الكون الفسيح كمخلوق كرمه الله تعالى وسخر له كل المخلوقات وأسجد له ملائكته المقربين. هذه الحضارة سبق لها أن سادت الدنيا قرابة ألف عام، شارك فيها كل الأقوام من المحيط إلى المحيط: عرباً وفرساً، تركاً وكرداً، زنوجاً وبربراً.
أتصور أننا بدأنا متأخرين في بناء النهضة، وانطلقنا من النقطة الخطأ. كان المفترض ان نبدأ بالحريات العامة لنرسخها في المجتمع كثقافة وسلوك وإجراءات وتنظيم، ثم نبني مؤسسات ديموقراطية سليمة في إطار دستور جديد يحافظ على هوية مصر العربية الإسلامية والقيم الأساسية للمجتمع، ويتضمن ضمانات حقيقية للحريات العامة، ويحقق التوازن بين السلطات، ويحدد دور القوات المسلحة بوضوح كدرع لحماية الوطن من أي عدوان خارجي، وحماية المؤسسات الدستورية من أي انهيار، ويضمن استقلالاً كاملاً وتاماً للقضاء.
ثم تأتي بعد ذلك الانتخابات الدورية الشفافة وفق قواعد مستقرة ليتسنى محاسبة الحكومات ويتم تداول السلطة بسلاسة وهدوء. الغريب أننا وضعنا العربة أمام الحصان، هل السبب أنه حتى الآن لا تبدو امارات واضحة أن هناك إرادة سياسية جازمة لتحقيق التحول الديموقراطي وبناء دولة القانون والمؤسسات، أم أن الاستجابة جاءت بسبب الضغوط الخارجية الشديدة والضغوط الشعبية المتزايدة بعد هذا الصيف الساخن في مصر وبعد التحولات الخطيرة التي شهدتها المنطقة العربية من حولنا، أم أن ظلال قضية التوريث تربك كل الحسابات وتبعث الشكوك الهائلة حول جدية المضي في مسيرة الإصلاح إلى نهايتها، ما يجعل القلق يتزايد، فتسري الشائعات. أن كل ما يحدث هو ديكور مصطنع وطبخة أعدت سلفاً لتكون الأمور تحت السيطرة.
المفاجأة التي زادت الارتباك ويتصور البعض أنها مصدر رئيس للقلق على عكس الحقائق على الأرض هي النتائج التي حققها الإخوان المسلمون في المرحلة الأولى ثم الثانية من الانتخابات البرلمانية: فهل هذا هو مصدر القلق؟ أعتقد جازماً بعكس ذلك، وان دخول الإخوان الانتخابات ثم تحقيق هذه النتائج ليس مصدراً للقلق، بل يجب أن يكون مصدراً للارتياح. ذلك لأننا - إذا كنا جادين في دفع مسيرة الإصلاح، وتحقيق التحول الديموقراطي وبناء نهضة تنموية على كل الصعد، فلا بد من المشاركة الشعبية ولا بد من تنافس حقيقي في المجتمع، وكان الإخوان رواداً في ذلك.
قدمنا في الانتخابات أداءً جيداً جداً شهد به الجميع، برنامجاً انتخابياً اختلف حوله الناس، وهذا حق طبيعي وأمر مطلوب، ماكينة انتخابية قوية ذات أداء عالي المستوى استخدمت أحدث الوسائل الالكترونية، قدرات تنظيمية جيدة الالتزام، لها أسلوب مبتكر ومتطور وقادرة على مراجعة نفسها خلال منافسة انتخابية حامية الوطيس وتقديم المزيد في كل مرحلة لتحقيق أفضل النتائج، وواكب ذلك كله خطاب سياسي واجتماعي وثقافي واضح ومحدد لا يراوغ ولا يتجمل، بل يعبر عن حقيقة ما يريده الإخوان ويحمل الشعب مسؤولية الإصلاح ولا يعده بأنهار السمن والعسل ولا يقدم إلا رؤية واضحة لأسس النهضة والإصلاح، إذ يفتقد الجميع القدرة على الدخول في التفاصيل بسبب الغياب المتعمد للأرقام والحقائق التي تحجبها الحكومة على أحسن الفروض وقد لا تكون متوافرة لديها على أسوأ الاحتمالات.
إذا كنا نريد أن تستمر مسيرة الإصلاح، فلا بد من إرساء عدد من الأسس والقيم الديموقراطية التي اتفقنا عليها نظرياً ولكننا نفاجأ بنتائجها العملية عندما تتحقق على الأرض.
لقد حرص الإخوان منذ الإعداد لهذه الانتخابات قبل أكثر من عام على تبديد المخاوف وإزالة القلق عبر التزامات محددة:
- التزم الإخوان في برامجهم وخطابهم بوضوح تام بأن الأخوة الأقباط شركاء في الوطن، لهم ما لنا وعليهم ما علينا، في إطار المواطنة الكاملة والمساواة التامة في الحقوق والواجبات أمام الدستور والقانون، وان المرأة لها أهليتها الكاملة وحقوقها التامة في التعليم والعمل والترشيح للوظائف والمشاركة في البرلمانات، وأعلنوا أن الأمة هي مصدر السلطات واحترام التعددية الحزبية والانتخابات الحرة ودوران السلطة عبر هذه الانتخابات الدورية. ألا يكفي ذلك كله لتبديد المخاوف وإزالة القلق المشروع.
- طرح الإخوان مبادرة الإصلاح في آذار (مارس) 2004 للنقاش العام.
- سعى الإخوان لبناء تحالف وطني عريض لأنهم أكدوا في مبادرتهم أن عبء الإصلاح لا يستطيع فصيل واحد - ولا حتى الحكومة - القيام به منفرداً، فالتقوا الأحزاب السياسية والقوى الأخرى. وانضم الإخوان إلى الجبهة الوطنية للإصلاح والتغيير أملاً في تجاوز ما حدث من تراشق بعد أن عزفت الأحزاب عن بناء التحالف العريض والتقت منفردة مع الحزب الحاكم ورفضت الانضمام بجدية إلى التحالف الوطني الذي أسسه الإخوان مع القوى الشعبية الأخرى.
والتزم الإخوان بالتنسيق الانتخابي بعد أن أعدوا قائمتهم الانتخابية قبل الإعلان عن الجبهة بشهور ونجح التنسيق بنسبة تزيد على 75 في المئة.
- رشح الإخوان نحو 150 مرشحاً فقط من أكثر من 250 قدمتهم قواعد الاخوان وأهّلهم القسم السياسي للمنافسة القوية، رغبة في إبداء حُسن النية وإفساح المجال أمام الآخرين وحرصاً على عدم الظهور بمظهر الساعي إلى الصدام، أملاً في طمأنة الجميع كي تستمر مسيرة الإصلاح.
- أعلن الإخوان برنامجاً انتخابياً عاماً ووافقوا والتزموا بالبرنامج الذي أعلنته الجبهة للإصلاح الدستوري والسياسي وقدم المرشحون برامج محلية لدوائرهم ومحافظاتهم، وقام مفكرون بنقد هذا البرنامج واستفاد الإخوان من نقدهم، ولخص الإخوان فكرتهم وبرنامجهم في شعار الإسلام هو الحل وأعلنوا بجواره عشرات الشعارات، إلا أن الانتقاد توجه إلى هذا الشعار فقط، وأقر القضاء صلاحيته كدعاية انتخابية لاتفاقه مع الدستور والقانون.
وفوق كل ذلك فإننا لسنا بصدد انتقال للسلطة، ولكننا نريد أن نشارك جميعاً في الإصلاح الدستوري والسياسي كمقدمة ضرورية وأساسية بالتزامن مع الإصلاح الشامل الذي يرى الإخوان أنه لن يحفز المشاركة الشعبية إلا إذا كان على أساس قواعد الإسلام، ولن ينجح إلا إذا احترم عقيدة الأمة وثقافتها ولن يستمر إلا إذا حقق تنمية شاملة ووحدة عربية وانتماء إسلامياً وبعداً حضارياً إنسانياً.
الإخوان يدخلون الآن مرحلة جديدة، وهي المشاركة الجادة في إصلاح الحكومة وتصحيح مسيرة النظام بعد أن حققوا نجاحات في إصلاح نفوسهم وبناء بيوت مستقرة والانتشار في المجتمع وشاركوا في تحقيق الاستقلال الوطني من أجل حماية هذا الاستقلال من التدخل الأجنبي في شؤوننا الداخلية والتهديدات الخطيرة التي تواجه الأمن القومي وسببها فساد الحكم والإدارة.
هذه المرحلة تحتاج إلى إضفاء المظلة القانونية على الكيان الإخواني الواقعي، وتحتاج من الإخوان إلى حسم هذا الوضع القانوني. وأعتقد أننا كإخوان اتفقنا على فصل الوظيفة الدعوية من الوظيفة السياسية، بمعنى أن تعود جماعة الإخوان المسلمين كهيئة إسلامية عامة معنية بالاهتمام بالإسلام الشامل والدعوة والتربية والإرشاد يمكنها أن تمثل، بجوار المرجعية الأساسية في الأزهر الشريف وبمشاركة جهات إسلامية أخرى تعمل في حقل الدعوة، مرجعية إسلامية شعبية، أما النشاط السياسي فيقوم به حزب مدني ذو مرجعية إسلامية مفتوح لكل المواطنين مسلمين ومسيحيين، وله برنامج سياسي ينافس في الانتخابات وفق القواعد المستقرة، قاعدته الانتخابية ستكون من الإخوان وأنصارهم، وهذا حدث في بلاد عدة مثل الأردن والمغرب ويحدث الآن في العراق وغيره. وخارج العالم العربي، تحقق في باكستان وماليزيا واندونيسيا وهذا الحزب سيكون محافظاً بطابعه ومدنياً بحقيقته وسياسياً في أسلوبه.
هذا الحزب سيزيل الغموض الذي تفرضه الحكومة على الإخوان بسبب الحظر القانوني والذي يسبب القلق ويثير المخاوف، إذ سيتاح للجميع التعرف على الحزب وبرامجه والمشاركة في عضويته وممارسة نشاطاته. هذا الحزب سيكون نموذجاً جيداً يضاف إلى النماذج الحزبية التقليدية، فلا هو حزب أيديولوجي بالكامل، ولا هو حزب مصالح وخدمات تماماً، بل هو مزيج بينهما، يمزج المثالية بالواقعية، ويوازن بين المبادئ والمصالح.
(*) قيادي في جماعة "الإخوان المسلمين"
(المصدر: صحيفة الحياة الصادرة يوم 30 نوفمبر 2005)
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