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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

Activist addresses the future of democracy in Arab nations

Activist addresses the future of democracy in Arab nations

CSID in the News

Activist (Dr. Masmoudi) addresses the future of democracy in Arab nations

By Ally Diljohn (Old Gold & Black Reporter )

October 20, 2005 – Radwan A. Masmoudi, the founder and president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), addressed issues facing the Muslim and Arab world 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in DeTamble Auditorium in a presentation entitled “Democracy Promotion in the Middle East: A View from the Street.”


During his presentation, Masmoudi addressed what he called an “environment of despair” caused by corrupt, authoritarian regimes in the Muslim, but particularly the Arab world.



“The worse part is people feel they have no dignity,” he added, stating the population’s inability to change their society.



He said that people tend to turn to religion in times of despair, particularly to extremism.



“There is a political crisis in the Muslim and Arab world in that change is necessary,” Masmoudi said.



According to Masmoudi, many of the Arab nations are rich, but the people are poor because of a lack of accountability regarding what is done with the countries’ income.



Democracy is the only means of resolving this political crisis and empowering the Arab people he said.



Masmoudi also discussed methods of promoting democracy, emphasizing that democracy should not be imposed by an external force.



He said that the American people should assist in developing democratic states, but the American government should re-evaluate its role in doing so.



The small crowd shared questions and comments regarding the topic after hearing Masmoudi speak.



“I totally agree that forced democracy is not democracy at all,” said junior Andrew Durkin.



Regarding Masmoudi’s ideas senior Matt Imboden said, “It was a good combination of idealism, vision and pragmaticism.”



Imboden also said that often politics get caught up in ideal situations, but Masmoudi seemed to have a balanced view on how to bring about change.



“Masmoudi presented a different perspective because he was a Muslim American. He had the interests of everyone in mind,” said senior Dave Desiderio.



According to senior Rob Jackson, Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) university representative, this is the first AID event held on campus. Jackson said he hopes to have other events throughout the year.



He also said he hopes other university students get involved with AID because currently he is a senior and the only student on campus affiliated with AID.



CSID, Masmoudi’s non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, was formed to promote democracy and freedoms in the Muslim and Arab world, according to its website.



Additionally, CSID strives to produce scholarship that clarifies to what extent such Western principles are permissable from an Islamic standpoint in the hope that this will spread knowledge in the Muslim community and better equip it to deal with today’s challenges.



Jackson said Masmoudi was invited to speak on campus because of previous involvement with AID and because of his expertise on the topic of democracy and Islam.



AID is an international student organization dedicated to raising global awareness. The presentation on campus was part of the AID global initiative called “Hope not Hate.”



According to the AID Website, this series of town hall meetings and videoconferences are held to discuss relations between the West and the Muslim world.



The annual series began on the two year anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks.



The series was designed to create “collaborative action out of the ashes of tragedy,” according to the Web site.


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