[First published July 28, 2005] Not all Muslims are terrorists. Dictators do not rule not all Muslims in these nations. Some live in democracies, although one wouldn’t know it from the commentators who exclaim that the Muslim religion is inconsistent with democracy. Although this often appears a sally against the Bush foreign policy in the Middle East, I think many of them believe it. It is helpful, therefore, to look at the status of Muslim nations in what is considered the hard-core, anti-democratic region, of North Africa, including the Horn of Africa. The map below shows the region to which I’m referring.
Now, lets look at these nations in detail. Below are two statistical tables on them, with their freedom status added. All those labeled free are liberal democracies, and those partly free with an asterisk are electoral democracies. As you can see, there are four liberal democracies out of 25 Muslim nations, and eight democracies when the electoral democracies are counted. This is far below the global proportion 44 percent liberal democracies and of 61 percent democratic.
So, for Africa it is clear that the Muslim religious culture appears as a hindrance to democracy. But, this is misleading. For the implication is that Muslims then oppose democracy, which is not true. I went into this on my Freedomist Blog (link here). Muslims place a higher value on democracy than do some people of the democracies. See the chart below
As I concluded my Freedomist Blog, what most clearly distinguishes democracy from nondemocracies is that in nondemocracies people live in fear. We see this in the Arab and North African Muslim countries. Therefore, if the democratization the Muslims value is to come, it must come from pressure from the outside. In this, the Forward Strategy of Freedom of President Bush is well aligned with our understanding of Muslim nations, and it is working.
Link of Note
Dr. Radwan Masmoudi is the Executive Director of Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. He says:
The old methods of oppression are simply outdated. More than 50% of the population of Muslim countries is under 30 years old. They did not witness colonization, and do not care about the independence struggle. They are highly educated, they speak several languages, and they watch CNN and al-Jazeera. Many of them even have access to the internet. They see how other people live, in terms of prosperity and freedom, and they want the same. They watch other peoples vote and elect their new leaders, while they are stuck with the same rulers for what seems like eternity. The new generation is fed up with the status quo. Change is inevitable. The only question that remains is: What kind of change?