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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

December 25, 2005

CSID EMAIL BULLETIN –December 25, 2005

>NEW BOOK: New Civic Education Book links Democracy to Islamic Principles
>EVENT: Dissidents and Reformers from the Arab World Speak out
>EVENT: MPAC Announces New Policy Journal & Book
>INTERVIEW: Saad Eddin Al-Othmani, Leader of Morocco’s Party for Justice and Development (Carnegie’s Arab Reform Bulletin)
>ARTICLE: Saudi Prince Gives Millions to Harvard and Georgetown (By Karen W. Arenson)
>ARTICLE: Islamists Ride Wave of Freedom (By Megan K. Stack)

>ARTICLE: House Supports Ban on Torture (By Josh White)
>ARTICLE: Women Setting their Own Agenda (By Asma Afsaruddin)
>ARTICLE: Ending the Silent War in Egypt (By Hala Mustafa)
>ARTICLE: Stand with Ayman Nour (Washington Post Editorial)
>ARTICLE: Present at the Disintegration (By Kanan Makiya)
>ARTICLE: Wary of Dissent, Tunisia Makes War on the Web (By Daniel Williams)
>Announcing the Founding of the Network of Democrats of the Arab World (NDAW) – In Arabic
الإعلان عن تأسيس شبكة الديمقراطيين في العالم العربي
>The Establishment of the Network of Democrats of the Arab World (NDAW) – In Arabicإنشاء شبكة الديمقراطيين في العالم العربي                                       
>New Book Linking Democracy to Islamic Principles

كتاب جديد يربط بين الديمقراطية والمبادئ الإسلامية                                          
>President of Majlis Ash-Shurah (Council for Consultation) Presides Over the Inauguration of a Conference entitled “Shurah, Democracy and Wise Governance”
رئيس مجلس الشورى يرعى افتتاح ندوة (الشورى والديمقراطية والحكم الرشيد)        


Dear Friends, Members, and Colleagues of CSID:

On behalf of the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, we wish you Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, a Blessed Eid-ul-adha to our Christian, Jewish, and Muslim friends, and a very blessed, prosperous, and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2006.  May this season and the New Year bring you, your family, and the entire human family success, prosperity, dignity, and above all peace.

Let us ALL continue to work together to make this world a better place for all of us, and for the sake of our children, and let us remember that real and genuine democracy is the only path to freedom, dignity, peace, and stability.

Wassalaam (in Peace).

                                                                 Radwan A. Masmoudi
President of CSID

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Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy

7th Annual Conference


May 5-6, 2006
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
Washington, D.C.

DEADLINE:  January 15, 2006

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 struggle for democratic change in the Muslim world is happening in an international context in which the major powers are engaged in a global war against terrorism.  The paradox in this environment is that the powerful actors in the international system, i.e. the US and EU, are calling for democratic change in the Muslim world, yet they are enacting laws and pursuing policies that restrict freedoms, endorse despotic rulers, and marginalize Muslim democrats.  What are the opportunities and challenges in this complex environment? 

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:

  • The state of democracy in the Muslim societies/countries
  • Critical evaluation of the theoretical discourse on democratization
  • Domestic and external challenges to democracy in the Muslim world
  • Prospects for democracy in the Muslim world
  • The challenge of anti-democratic Islamist discourses
  • Gender equality, the rights of minorities, and democratization in the Muslim world
  • Developing new and just interpretations of Islamic principles in the 21st century

The Conference Program Committee Chair is Prof. Najib Ghadbian, University of Arkansas.  Please e-mail paper proposals (between 200- 400 words), by January 15, 2006, to the Conference Coordinator, Sami Bawalsa, at:

For updates on the conference, please visit

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New Civic Education Book Links Democracy to Islamic Principles
Authors see Islamic compatibility as key to acceptance of democracy

By Ralph Dannheisser
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington — Democracy can take root in the Muslim world only if the average citizen sees it as compatible with Islam, according to the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) and StreetLaw Inc., two groups that seek to plant the seeds for democratic development in the Middle East and North Africa.

Everybody in the Muslim world, if given a choice between Islam and anything else, will always choose Islam, says CSIDs founder and executive director Radwan Masmoudi. And the problem is that democracy was presented to them in many cases as something alien and something that is not really compatible with Islam, and they have to choose between the two.

This is a false choice, this is not a choice that they have to make, and we have to convince them of that, he says. We have to present to them democracy and tie it with Islamic concepts that they are accustomed to, such as the principle of shura, or consultative decision-making.

To achieve this goal, CSID and StreetLaw recruited eight authors — two each from Egypt, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco — to develop an Arabic-language workbook intertwining democratic concepts with Islamic principles.

The final product, Islam and Democracy: Toward Effective Citizenship, is based on a book developed more than a decade ago for use in South Africa and other emerging democracies, but the authors reworked the text to make it relevant to a Muslim audience.

The books producers plan to present it to community leaders in Muslim countries in hopes that those leaders will convey the message of democracy to their countrymen.

CSID is a Washington-based think tank dedicated to promoting democratic reforms in the Muslim world, connecting Islamic values with principles of freedom and participation, and StreetLaw is a Washington-based group that fosters citizen action by providing practical, participatory education about law, democracy and human rights.

Masmoudi sees the collaborative effort between CSID and StreetLaw as a natural partnership. He says he told StreetLaw officials, You guys know how to teach democracy, we know about Islam and how to teach Islam. Lets work together on this project.

Mary Larkin, StreetLaws director of international programs, is equally enthusiastic and sure that education is the most effective way to promote democracy.

We dont have to act as advocates, she says. Given the information about democracy, given the information about the compatibility with Islam, the populous will make the decision thats best for them.


The authors of Islam and Democracy include a newly elected member of the Jordanian Senate and members of parliament from Morocco and Algeria, as well as a professor, a journalist, a pair of human rights experts and a citizenship education activist.

Their 129-page book, full of facts, philosophy and workbook exercises, was presented to the public at a November 29 Washington reception.

The book contains chapters on what democracy is, how the state works, corruption and abuse of power, human rights, elections and citizen participation.

The preface states, The book takes no religious or political position concerning Islam or democracy and strives to present materials that are neutral and balanced. We aim to promote discussion, promote tolerance and support citizen participation.

Larkin says the workbook exercises are based on experiences and situations that might be familiar to the books audiences. An exercise on the legitimacy of power presents a situation in which street protests turn into looting after a legitimately elected government fails to quell an economic crisis. A group of army officers seizes power and imposes its own solutions.

Which of these two parties, the text asks, has the legitimate power and the right to rule in this case: the elected government or the military government?

Another exercise exploring the accountability of high officials before the law presents the case of a bank manager, summoned for investigation in a corruption case, who testifies that he acted on orders of a high government official.

It asks readers to consider, What are the bank managers arguments? Should the high official be summoned? Why? What are the prosecutors arguments? and finally, If you were the judge, what would your judgment be?


Larkin, Masmoudi and a pair of colleagues begin a 10-day tour of Morocco and Algeria December 4 to present the book to civic, religious and education leaders and officials of nongovernmental organizations, and teach them how to use the texts in their own communities.

Through them, we have a goal of reaching over 2,000 ordinary citizens in each country. Well supply them with the materials, Larkin says. Were committed to bringing a discussion of democracy out of academia and out of the ivory tower because democracy happens when the everyday people want it.

The group plans a similar visit to Egypt and Jordan in January, and if these four pilot programs are successful, the sponsors hope to take it to other countries.

Masmoudi has huge expectations for the book and its potential impact across the Muslim world in explaining the concepts of democracy in simple language.

CSID has run probably hundreds of conferences on the subject of Islam and democracy, he says, but after a while we noticed that we were basically getting the same crowd — the intellectual leaders, the political and religious leaders of the country — and they dont need these conferences.

The challenge is, how do we convince the millions of other people in the Arab world, Masmoudi says. With democracy on the rise elsewhere in the world, he asks, When are we going to have in the Arab world people going out in peaceful demonstrations asking for freedom and democracy?

One of the books authors, Emad Shahin, a professor at the American University in Cairo, termed their product a practical book (which) also instills certain values.

Its not a superficial manual for how to teach democracy in a crash course in five minutes, he says. I think its really profound because it tries to reflect values in a simple way, not simplistic but very simple, very straightforward way that can make it accessible to everyone.

Aly Abuzaakuk, CSIDs program manager for the Middle East and North Africa, expressed confidence the StreetLaw-CSID effort could advance an emerging wave of reform in human rights, accountability and transparency in many Arab countries. Recent experience has shown that pressures from inside, the civil society organizations, coupled with some leverage from outside will produce results, he said.

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January 13, 2006, 9:00-noon.

Dissidents and Reformers from the Arab World Speak Out,
American Enterprise Institute

Save the date for the first of these conferences, which will focus on Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. Renowned Egyptian human rights activist and director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development in Cairo, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, will deliver opening remarks. Other speakers will include Redouane Boudjema, from Algeria; Hafez Al-Bukari, from Yemen; Nejib Chebbi, from Tunisia; Mohamed Eljahmi, from Libya; Neila Charchour Hachicha, from Tunisia; and Ali Saif Hassan, from Yemen. AEI, Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, 1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

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“In Pursuit of Justice: The Jurisprudence of Human Rights in Islam.”

(Los Angeles, 12/14/05) — During its fifth annual convention on Saturday, December 17, the Muslim Public Affairs Council will launch two exciting new publications — the Muslim Public Affairs Journal and a book entitled “In Pursuit of Justice: The Jurisprudence of Human Rights in Islam.”

“The quarterly journal’s mission is to engage American Muslims and the American Muslim perspective in public policy, political and moral debates that shape the interests, core values and identity of our society,” said Dr. Muqtedar Khan, editor of the Muslim Public Affairs Journal and professor of Political Science at the University of Delaware.

The first issue includes articles written by prominent scholars and intellectuals. (Click here to view the Table of Contents and/or request a copy of the journal.)

Senior Advisor Dr. Maher Hathout will also announce the upcoming release of his new book, entitled “In Pursuit of Justice: The Jurisprudence of Human Rights in Islam.” Written with Dr. Nayyer Ali, Dr. Gasser Hathout, and Uzma Jamil, the book is a 500-page examination of critical issues facing Muslim Americans, foremost among which is the ability to reconcile Islamic law with democratic principles.

“The thesis of this book is that Islamic extremism does not arise spontaneously, but rather must be deliberately cultivated through a distortion of Islamic law,” said Dr. Maher Hathout. “This book comes at a critical time, when Muslims are engaged in a definitive struggle to understand their role within their religion and their nation.”

CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443,

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Carnegies Arab Reform Bulletin
Decenber 2005, Vol. 3, Issue 10

Interview with Saad Eddin Al Othmani, leader of Morocco’s Party of Justice and Development
The leader of one of the region’s most successful new groupings discusses what it means to be an Islamic democratic party.

Interview with Abul Ila Al Madi, Founding Member of Egypt ‘s Wasat (Center) Party
The leader of an Islamist party seeking legalization discusses the reform agenda and differences with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt: Stormy Elections Close a Turbulent Year Hani Shukrallah
Parliamentary elections highlighted serious weaknesses in a political system that may be falling apart.

Iraq: Will Democracy Become a Habit? Judith S. Yaphe
Iraqis are bargaining hard regarding the government to be formed after elections, but that is not necessarily bad news.

To read the full online version of the Arab Reform Bulletin or to download the PDF, go to:

To receive the Arab Reform Bulletin via e-mail every month, to unsubscribe, or to subscribe to the Arabic edition visit:

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Saudi Prince Gives Millions to Harvard and Georgetown

December 13, 2005

Harvard University and Georgetown University each announced yesterday that they had received $20 million donations from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, a Saudi businessman and member of the Saudi royal family, to finance Islamic studies.

Harvard said it would create a university-wide program on Islamic studies, recruit new faculty members in the field, provide more support for graduate students and convert rare Islamic textual sources into digital formats to make them widely available.

“For a university with global aspirations, it is critical that Harvard have a strong program on Islam that is worldwide and interdisciplinary in scope,” said Steven E. Hyman, Harvard’s provost, who will coordinate adopting the new program.

Georgetown said it would use the gift – the second-largest it has ever received – to expand its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which is part of its Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. It said it would rename the center the H.R.H. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

The prince, who is said to be in his late 40’s or early 50’s, and was fifth on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy people this year, with a fortune of $23.7 billion, has made a variety of other sizable gifts, including $20 million to the Louvre and to other universities.

One gift that backfired, however, was a $10 million check he gave Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in October 2001 for the Twin Towers Fund, a charity to help survivors of uniformed workers who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The prince had expressed his condolences for the lives lost and condemned “all forms of terrorism,” in a letter accompanying the gift.

Mayor Giuliani returned the gift when he learned that a news release quoted the prince as calling on the American government to “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.”

It added, “Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.”

In an interview with The Financial Times this month, the prince, a nephew of the current king, was asked whether he regretted making those statements in 2001. He responded: “A friend of a nation has to say the truth any time. Although, if you ask me a question, ‘If the Palestinian situation was resolved a day before 9/11, would 9/11 take place or not?’ Most likely it would have taken place, yes. I have no problem.”

He said he had Christian and Jewish friends. “Muslim, Christian, Jewish – I don’t care about that,” he said in the article.

The article added, “By Saudi standards the prince is a liberal.”

After Sept. 11, he proposed democratic elections in Saudi Arabia.

Martin Kramer, the author of “Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America,” which contends that the study of the Middle East and Islam is politically biased, said last night, “Prince Alwaleed knows that if you want to have an impact, places like Harvard or Georgetown, which is inside the Beltway, will make a difference.”

Donella Rapier, vice president for alumni affairs and development at Harvard, said yesterday that the university was aware of the dispute in New York, but that it “has not been part of our gift negotiations.”

The prince approached Harvard about six months ago, Ms. Rapier said, and the donation, like all large gifts, was vetted by the university’s gift policy committee, on which she sits. The committee, which meets about once a month, is headed by the provost and includes Harvard’s general counsel, its vice president for communications and two deans.

The committee’s discussions “are private,” Ms. Rapier said.

In making the two gifts, the prince focused on the importance of uniting disparate cultures.

Harvard’s news release quoted him as saying that he hoped Harvard’s Islamic studies program “will enable generations of students and scholars to gain a thorough understanding of Islam and its role both in the past and in today’s world.”

“Bridging the understanding between East and West is important for peace and tolerance,” he said.

The Georgetown release quoted him as saying, “We are determined to build a bridge between Islam and Christianity for tolerance that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries.”

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Islamists Ride Wave of Freedom
Religious parties in the Middle East are using democracy to gain power and legitimacy.

By Megan K. Stack and Tyler Marshall
December 18, 2005
Los Angeles Times,1,2549351,full.story?coll=la-headlines-world

CAIRO When Iraqis swarmed to the polls last week to cast ballots in parliamentary elections, the Bush administration hailed a democratic victory in a region creaking under the weight of corruption, cronyism and dictatorship.

But the outcome may not be what the administration had in mind when U.S. forces swept President Saddam Hussein from power more than 2 1/2 years ago. Iraq’s elections were dominated by Islamic clerics, and the incoming parliament is likely to include a large proportion of Islamist legislators, many of whom have ties to the mullahs of Iran.

In recent elections across Iraq and other countries in the region, Islamist parties have capitalized skillfully on new political freedoms to gain clout and legitimacy unprecedented in the modern Middle East. The growing strength of the religion-based parties is the single most unpredictable element in the Bush administration’s grand vision to replace despots with democracy.

Whether it’s the Shiite Muslim-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Palestinian group Hamas or Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Islamist parties have benefited from the administration’s promotion of democracy in the Arab world. But the Islamists also have gained strength from widespread opposition to U.S. policy, which has convinced some Muslims that their religion is under attack.

“U.S. foreign policy has helped directly in the rise of the Islamists,” said Gamal Banna, a liberal Egyptian writer and brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. “The intervention in Iraq and the support for Israel’s policies are creating so much anger in the region. The Islamists are benefiting from that anger.”

Privately, U.S. officials acknowledge that they are concerned about the level of anti-Americanism and the power it has given Islamic-based parties at the ballot box, but they insist that the danger of extremist ideology can be contained.

Barry F. Lowenkron, an assistant secretary of State, referred to the risks that extremist governments Islamic-based or not might come to power as “bumps in the road.” In an interview last week, he listed steps needed to encourage competition from secular parties in the Arab world, including the lifting of emergency laws, expansion of press freedom, allowing the right of assembly and other measures to ensure that diverse voices can be heard.

He also pointed out that there was a difference between what he called “extremists” and Islamic parties.

Still, Islamic groups present a dilemma for the United States. Although Washington historically has kept Islamists at arm’s length, the widespread popular support for religious parties is difficult for any advocate of democracy to ignore.

Across the region, Islamist parties have proved themselves best poised to gain from any democratic opening. They enjoy easy access to mosques, which are virtually the only spaces where politics are publicly discussed in many Arab countries. Their slogans tap into deep religious feelings, and their legacy of social and welfare work gives them easy credibility on the street.

And Islamists have been clever in recasting themselves to suit the current mood. Many religious politicians stopped talking about Islamic republics and became unabashed democracy cheerleaders.

“We believe in democracy. The ballot box has the final say in whether you’ll be ruling or not. We don’t believe in any other means of taking power,” Mahdi Akef, the leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, said in a recent interview. “How would I be a Muslim and abolish freedom at the same time? This is nonsense.”

But many Islamic groups remain carefully ambiguous about how they plan to wield their newfound power. Some analysts believe that if Islamists felt strong enough, they would seek to curb the rights of non-Muslims and women; downgrade relations with the United States and Israel; or impose a harsh Islamic law, or Sharia. Hamas and Hezbollah, for their part, have been labeled terrorist organizations by the U.S. government.

In short, there is a real fear that Islamists will exploit democratic openings to rise gradually to power, only to dismantle those liberties once they’ve taken control.

“I’m sure the Brothers still want to apply an old-fashioned version of Sharia, treat [Coptic Christians] as second-class citizens and stay in power forever when they form the government,” said Emad Gad, an Israel expert at Cairo’s Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “They are coming up with all these moderate slogans so as not to frighten anyone, especially the West.”

Other analysts say Islamists are not to be feared. They argue that groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which shook Egypt by winning nearly 20% of the seats in the recent parliamentary election, are evolving into more moderate organizations as they gain political power.

“If we’re sincere about this, we have to admit there is room for Islamic parties,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to talk to the media. “The question is: Are these parties committed to certain rules of the game? That’s the key. They have to evolve too.”

There is evidence they are doing just that.

Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which have historical links, fielded female candidates in elections this year. The two groups also forged political alliances with Christians, and the head of the Muslim Brotherhood recently made the startling concession that a Christian could be president of Egypt as long as he or she were elected.

“Hamas has essentially been moving to a more moderate view on issues related to the political system, more liberal views toward women and the peace process,” said Khalil Shikaki, a widely respected Palestinian pollster. “Hamas will be a very different Hamas in four years than the Hamas we have today.”

The Brotherhood’s entry into politics “came at the expense of their identity,” said Hossam Tammam, author of “Brothers in a State of Change.” He compares the Brotherhood’s current platform, which calls for a free market and doesn’t object to relations with the U.S., to those of Christian parties in Europe.

“Forget about the Islamic state, the caliphate and so on,” Tammam said. “The more the Brothers get dragged into the political arena, the more they are integrated, and the more they try to operate according to the rules of the arena.”

That political scientists reach radically different interpretations after studying the same groups renders the Islamist parties a daunting prospect: Their intentions remain murky.

Meanwhile, many Arabs regard U.S. policy as a patchwork of contradictions. American support has been steadfast, for example, for Saudi Arabia, an ultraconservative Islamic state where religious rights of non-Muslims are nonexistent and women live as second-class citizens.

In other words, critics argue, the United States remains willing to accept religious repression by friendly Islamic governments. But America cites the threat of similar repression to justify snubbing Islamist opposition groups that may pose a political threat to other friendly governments. Bush administration leaders say the different histories and makeup of nations in the region require custom-made approaches for each country.

When it came to Iraq, the U.S. administration could no longer afford its discomfort with Islamist leaders.

In the struggle to foster a new government from the ruins of war, the administration clearly preferred leaders such as Iyad Allawi, the secular Shiite it named as head of a transitional government last year. Yet the United States has bent to the political realities and accepted the strong appeal of both Sunni and Shiite Muslim religious-based parties.

Iraq’s Shiite parties have stoked fears that they will institute religious law once a long-term government is in place. Women’s rights activists are challenging a decree that grants clerics sole authority over family law questions such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. And during negotiations over the drafting of the new Iraqi constitution, hard-liners sought to establish Islamic law as the primary source of jurisprudence.

But some influential Americans remain circumspect on the possibility of Islamic law taking hold in Iraq. “That’s not our choice to make,” Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said during an election day visit to Hillah, a Shiite city in the south.

Some analysts regard Iraq as the prime example of a troubling flaw in the U.S. push for democracy. Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, apparently eager to prod the nation’s Shiite majority to political power, brushed aside an initial American timetable of five to 10 years for Iraq’s emergence as a fully sovereign democracy and in effect hijacked the electoral schedule.

In the end, the campaign hardened sectarian and ethnic identities. With little time to build democratic institutions, many fear that Iraq’s election is merely a precursor to civil war.

“Development of democracy is a very delicate process that can’t be compressed,” said Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security advisor.

Still, none of the “bumps in the road” appear to have dampened the administration’s enthusiasm for implementing President Bush’s vision. Less than a year since the president declared America’s support for democracy “in every nation and culture,” the administration believes a huge shift is underway.

Dina Powell, the Egyptian-born former White House staffer brought to the State Department earlier this year to help rebuild America’s image in the Middle East, listed several examples, including the Palestinian elections, the departure of Syrian forces from Lebanon and Kuwait’s decision to give women the vote. “If you’d have told me that two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it,” she said.

“I think we need to talk about freedom and democracy,” she added. “I know it resonates. I see it resonating in the region, but we need to do it in a way that respects the sovereignty and the will of the people in the Middle East.”

Stack reported from Cairo and Marshall from Washington. Times staff writers Richard Boudreaux in Baghdad, Ken Ellingwood in Jerusalem, Ashraf Khalil in Hillah, Iraq, and Hossam Hamalawy in The Times’ Cairo Bureau contributed to this report.

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House Supports Ban on Torture
Measure Would Limit Interrogation Tactics

By Josh White and Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 15, 2005; Page A01

The House gave strong support yesterday to a measure that would ban torture and limit interrogation tactics in U.S. detention facilities, agreeing with senators that Congress needs to set uniform guidelines for the treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism.

On a 308 to 122 vote, members of the House supported specific language proposed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would prohibit “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” of anyone in the custody of the U.S. government. Though lopsided, the vote was largely symbolic and does not put the language into law.

The vote specifically instructed House negotiators to include McCain’s language, word for word, in the fiscal 2006 defense appropriations bill, a decision that is not binding but carries significant political weight.

The House also supported a McCain provision that would require officials in any Defense Department detention facility to follow the interrogation standards in the Army’s field manual on interrogations. That manual is currently being revised.

The vote sends a clear signal to the Bush administration that both chambers of Congress support the anti-torture legislation and want the government to adopt guidelines that aim to prevent damage to the U.S. image abroad. The White House has been aggressively pushing to create exceptions for CIA operatives and to water down McCain’s language to keep it from limiting interrogators’ options. But it appears that the administration and House Republican leaders lost some leverage yesterday.

With the Senate’s 90 to 9 vote in support of McCain’s language earlier this year, both houses have presented veto-proof tallies to a White House that has vowed to strike down any bill that would limit the president’s authority to wage the war on terrorism.

“We cannot torture and still retain the moral high ground,” said Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who called for the vote yesterday. “No torture and no exceptions.”

In all, 200 Democrats, 107 Republicans and one independent voted for Murtha’s motion to instruct House negotiators. Voting against it were 121 Republicans and one Democrat, Rep. Jim Marshall (Ga.). All eight House members from Maryland voted for the motion, as did eight of Virginia’s 11 members. The three who voted against it were Republican Reps. Eric I. Cantor, Thelma D. Drake and Virgil H. Goode Jr.

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (N.C.) was among the many conservative Republicans who voted for Murtha’s motion. He said in an interview that experts have told lawmakers that harsh interrogation methods often produce misleading or false information because the detainee “will tell you what he thinks you want to hear” to end the pain.

Jones said he believes that extreme interrogation tactics resulted in some of the bad intelligence that led the administration to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the invasion.

McCain’s language is also stalling the defense authorization bill, a policy-setting measure, as the White House continues to negotiate for exceptions and legal protection for interrogators who might unwittingly cross the proposed new lines.

“Unfortunately, we’re in a situation now, post-Abu Ghraib, where restoring our image abroad is just as important as winning victories on the battlefield,” said a congressional aide who is close to the discussions. “Our reputation has suffered so much that Republicans are willing to take steps that tie our hands in certain situations.”

McCain and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley met yesterday morning on Capitol Hill as part of the negotiations on McCain’s anti-torture legislation.

Congressional aides and U.S. officials said yesterday that McCain has flatly refused Bush administration requests to modify the language he has proposed or to water down the impact of the torture ban.

Despite McCain’s unwavering stance, the White House continues to push for some exceptions for officials working in the U.S. intelligence services — specifically the CIA. Sources familiar with the negotiations said yesterday that McCain and Hadley’s one-on-one meetings over the past month have centered on the White House’s request for some level of legal protection from liability for CIA operatives should they be found in violation of the standards.

Such an exception would allow interrogators to use a defense that a “reasonable person” would not have thought their actions were illegal, similar to what is available under military laws on following orders.

Defense Department officials have been debating the impact McCain’s language would have on intelligence operations, and officials largely agree that the provisions are consistent with existing policy. They would put into law Army doctrine, eliminating a commander’s flexibility to change the rules — something members of Congress have been seeking after numerous reported instances of abuse.

McCain’s language grew out of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse and the confusion that became apparent about the government’s policies on the treatment of detainees. McCain — who was tortured as a Vietnam prisoner of war — has been seeking to provide congressional clarity to the armed forces and to other officials who interrogate prisoners.

A McCain spokeswoman said yesterday that negotiations are continuing and that he is opposed to any language that would undermine the intent of his provisions.

The impasse on the authorization bill is caused in part by Republican leaders being stuck having to make a difficult choice: Either go against the president and limit the use of some interrogation tactics or risk not having a National Defense Authorization Act for the first time in 45 years and in the middle of a war.

“I’m deeply disappointed that the Republican leadership has dragged their feet for weeks, unwilling to consider Senator McCain’s language, which gained wide bipartisan support in the Senate,” said Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“When America’s servicemen and women are deployed in war zones, exposed to danger and possible capture, it is irresponsible to not make sure fundamental standards exist for the treatment of detainees,” Tauscher said.

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Women setting their own agenda

Asma Afsaruddin
Common Ground News Partners in Humanity (CGNews-PiH)

Notre Dame, Indiana – In discussing the role of women in US-Muslim relations, it is important to first broach the topic of how women are often discursively and symbolically used to demarcate cultural parameters and create a sense of us versus them.  In the culture war or, more dramatically, the clash of civilizations that is supposedly underway between the United States (or the West in general) and the Muslim world, womens roles and their attire assume a disproportionate importance.  From this vantage point, presumed cultural differences tend to be more sharply etched in peoples minds and contribute to acrimonious debates about womens well-being, whether defined in physical and/or moral terms on both sides of the divide. 

Thus, those who wish to accentuate civilizational differences in the West speak of a reified Islam uniformly oppressing women and restricting their civil and human rights. They invoke the veil as a ubiquitous symbol of womens repression.  Their counterparts on the other side of the divide point to the moral degradation of Western women as evident, they will say, in their skimpy attire and the breakdown of the American family.  All of this is a consequence, this latter group insists, of the typical decadence to be found in Western societies.  Furthermore, some maintain that both human and womens rights discourses emanating from the secular West are intended to erode the dignity of women and destroy the moral core of Muslim societies. 

It is remarkable how persistent these unflattering stereotypes can be both in the West and in the Muslim world, even among relatively educated people.  The challenge then for women in Muslim societies and in the US is to rise above these superficial and divisive depictions and pursue better communication with one another.  Since women are often deployed as cultural icons freighted with all kinds of political associations, it is women themselves who are in a unique position to dismantle these icons.  Women in both parts of the world should assert their own agencies, and in direct communication with one another articulate the complexities inherent in their gendered identities within their specific societal circumstances.  Even within a given society, there are huge differentials contingent on socio-economic circumstances, levels of education and support systems, which determine a womans sense of well-being and accomplishment.   There is, after all, a basic commonality of interests and concerns undergirding womens lives anywhere in the world.  Questions of health, child care, education and employment opportunities are constants in most womens lives. 

It may sound trite to suggest that because women remain fundamentally concerned with the well-being of their families, whether they work or not, certain issues find immediate resonance with them regardless of the ideological framework in which these issues may be found.  What follows are two suggestions regarding how women may tap into this reservoir of shared concerns and interests across cultural and religious divides in order to emphasize shared common ground and thus effectively circumvent the rhetoric of divisiveness that forms the master narrative of our times.    

The first suggestion is that women from the US and the Muslim world reach out to one another directly and set their own agendas for discussion and negotiation. They can do this both  individually and collectively.  Individual academics and activists can organize lectures, workshops, and symposia to plan effective ways to empower women socially and politically. Womens non-governmental organizations in the Muslim world and in the US can initiate collaborative projects with one another.  American Muslim women are in a unique position to act as facilitators of many of these projects, since they are able to successfully bridge the cultural divide and be comprehensible to both worlds.  

Perceptions are as important as realities:  interlocutors who are both American and Muslim can successfully negotiate the pitfalls inherent in the cross-cultural encounters between the US and the Muslim world, especially when the power imbalance is so acute between these two entities.  American Muslim women would still be perceived as insiders to a certain extent by their counterparts in the Muslim heartland, making communication less politically fraught.

The second suggestion is that when discussing issues of common concern, one should try to find as much common ground as possible without ideologizing these issues.  In other words, one should avoid as much as possible replicating the master narratives of civilizational discourses that trumpet greatly accentuated differences between cultures and posit the superiority of one set of values over another (assumed to be the binary opposite).  Even the most well-intentioned projects may be undermined by such ideological language.  Thus, a respected think-tank in Washington DC recently published a book on womens rights and roles in Middle Eastern societies, the result of an ambitious survey of a selected number of Middle Eastern countries, conducted by academics a nd trained researchers in most cases. 

Yet an undercurrent of Western triumphalist rhetoric marred the studys overall effectiveness which assumed that only a relentlessly secular and materialistic perspective would lead to positive results in terms of effecting change in the lives of the women interviewed.  As one of the commentators on a pre-publication draft of the survey, I had the occasion to point out that although the survey rightly drew attention to job discrimination against women in a number of Muslim societies and difficulty of access at times to higher education, it barely addressed the issues of health care and did not stress at all governmental and employer responsibilities in providing day care facilities and maternity leaves for women, for example.  Veiled and unveiled women all over the world continue to find these issues o f pressing concern.  If women anywhere choose to define their sense of well-being and empowerment solely in familial terms, then these are the concerns that should be given priority and not the pre-set agendas set by policy-makers and pundits in remote places.   

Respecting womens agency means, first and foremost, letting women articulate their wishes and concerns.  It also means listening to them.  On such a basis we may collaboratively envision programs and policies that demonstrably improve the quality of womens lives and of all those around them.

* Asma Afsaruddin is Associate Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies at University of Notre Dame, and Chair of the board of CSID.

Source:  Common Ground News Partners in Humanity (CGNews-PiH) is distributing the enclosed articles to build bridges of understanding between the West and the Arab world, and countries with significant Muslim populations.

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Ending the Silent War in Egypt
By Hala Mustafa

Washington Post
Saturday, December 24, 2005; Page A17

CAIRO — While much attention has been paid to the violent attacks and intimidation directed at the opposition during Egypt’s recent parliamentary elections, the involvement of the country’s security forces in political life is not limited to this sort of visible confrontation. The real threat of Egypt’s state security apparatus, as in many other Middle Eastern states, is that it continues to secretly manipulate the entire political system. American and domestic efforts to promote political reform in the region will achieve only cosmetic changes, of the kind we’ve seen so far, unless this clandestine chokehold is broken.

In Egypt, it is no secret that the security services are deeply involved in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), selecting high-level officials and most of the party’s candidates for elections. As a result, in the recent parliamentary elections, many official NDP candidates were defeated by party dissidents who ran as independent candidates. Nominees of the secret police, it turns out, aren’t popular with voters.

Even the NDP Policies Committee — established three years ago as the party’s vehicle for reform — could not escape the clutches of the security services, which promoted a group of phony reformers to positions of influence and visibility in a false response to America’s call for political change. Meanwhile, genuine liberal voices were excluded, making reform from within impossible. Such practices are not limited to the highest ranks of the party: Recruitment for all positions is based on loyalty to security authorities rather than merit, qualifications, political background or experience.

The media are subjected to the same control. Even private, independent papers are held hostage to the security services, which have the power to license and shut down any newspaper and which exercise similar control over the granting of licenses to journalists. The same goes for TV stations — including al-Hurra, the U.S.-sponsored satellite channel, which is supposed to be providing uncensored news from an American point of view.

From the beginning, al-Hurra’s operation in Egypt was subject to the covert control of the security services, a fact that is not always apparent to those who oversee the station from Washington. The services have close ties to some of the station’s directors and handpick many correspondents. They even have final say over which guests appear on programs. As a result, anyone who has paid careful attention to the tone and opinions of the regular programming will notice that liberal, progressive, open-minded views are presented almost apologetically. While al-Hurra is supposed to be a vibrant, fresh forum for freedom, it has failed to provide a real space for balanced views, and so it has been incapable of competing with the “Islamic” al-Jazeera and “pan-Arabist” al-Arabiya channels.

Unless the security services are reined in, real political change and efforts to implement “reform from within” will continue to be blocked in Egypt and across the Middle East. The enlightened political elite will remain powerless, individuals who can make genuine contributions will be systematically targeted, moderate groups and trends will continue to be excluded, and most citizens will remain absent from political life (as was unfortunately demonstrated in the recent elections, in which the overwhelming majority of Egyptians did not vote). In a word, the political arena will still echo only one voice.

The “silent war” waged by the security services will keep Egypt stuck at square one, caught between the closed, security-obsessed regime and the Islamic fundamentalists. Is that the future we desire?

The writer is editor of the Al-Ahram Foundation’s quarterly journal al-Dimuqratia (Democracy).

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Stand With Ayman Nour

Washington Post – Editorial
Friday, December 23, 2005; Page A20

“When you stand for your liberty we will stand with you. Democratic reformers facing repression, prison or exile can know: America sees you for who you are — the future leaders of your free country.”      —  President Bush, in his second inaugural address

PRESIDENT BUSH’S stirring commitment was only nine days old when Egypt’s Ayman Nour was arrested in January. Mr. Nour, a 41-year-old member of parliament and a secular democrat, had announced that he intended to challenge President Hosni Mubarak’s plan to extend his term in office. The 77-year-old strongman responded by ordering Mr. Nour’s prosecution on trumped-up charges. U.S. pressure obtained Mr. Nour’s release on bail in March, and he proceeded to stage a quixotic campaign against Mr. Mubarak in September’s unfair presidential election.

Now, with the election over and U.S. attention focused on Iraq, Egypt’s strongman has returned to persecuting his most prominent liberal opponent. Mr. Nour is back in prison, having been deprived by fraud of his parliamentary seat. Tomorrow, an Egyptian judge notorious for handling the president’s dirty work is expected to sentence him to prison. If Mr. Bush’s commitment to freedom fighters means anything at all, he cannot allow this blatant act of injustice to go unchallenged.

Some cases of political persecution have gray areas: The defendant might be guilty of supporting violence or hold an extremist ideology. Mr. Nour’s is not one of them. He is one of Egypt’s foremost proponents of a secular liberal democracy, credited with 8 percent of the vote in the presidential election. The charge against him, forgery, was proved a fabrication five months ago, when one of the principal witnesses recanted in court, saying he had been forced by state security police to invent his testimony. That the trial has continued, with Mr. Nour jailed since Dec. 5, can be explained only by the judge, Abdel Salam Gomaa, a sycophantic follower of Mr. Mubarak who in 2002 sentenced another famous pro-democracy activist, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, to seven years in prison.

In some situations there isn’t much the United States can do to help a suffering dissident. That’s not the case here, either. Each year, the United States provides Mr. Mubarak’s regime with $1.8 billion in military and economic aid; without that money for his generals it’s doubtful the aged president could remain in office. Mr. Nour was released on bail in March after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled a visit to Egypt. In 2002, a Bush administration threat to withhold several hundred million dollars in aid got Mr. Ibrahim’s case in front of the Egyptian Supreme Court, which promptly annulled his conviction. Mr. Mubarak’s vindictive persecution of Mr. Nour, whom he perceives as a political rival to his son Gamal, has outraged much of Egypt’s political establishment, which would quietly welcome U.S. intervention. Even some members of Mr. Mubarak’s cabinet privately describe the prosecution as senseless.

In short, the imprisonment of Mr. Nour will provide Mr. Bush with an opportunity — and an imperative — to fight for the cause of democracy in the heart of the Arab Middle East. Mr. Mubarak believes he can suppress his leading democratic challenger and get away with it, because of Egypt’s cooperation with Israel and support for the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Bush, and Congress, must prove that wrong, both to the Egyptian government and to the Arabs across the Middle East who will be closely watching Washington’s reaction in this case. Standing with Ayman Nour means standing against military aid for Mr. Mubarak until this democratic reformer is free.

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Present at the Disintegration

Published: December 11, 2005
London –

WASHINGTON and Baghdad will be tempted, with the adoption of a new Constitution and the election on Thursday for a four-year government, to declare victory in Iraq. In one sense, they are right to do so. The emerging Iraqi polity undoubtedly represents a radical break not only with the country’s past but also with the whole Arab state system established by Britain and France after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

But in the larger sense, such optimism is misguided, for none of the problems associated with Iraq’s monumental change have been sorted out. Worse, profound tensions and contradictions have been enshrined in the Constitution of the new Iraq, and they threaten the very existence of the state.

How did we get here? Much has been said about American failures in Iraq. And rightly so. But, as I’ve seen as a participant in political discussions both before and after the war, we Iraqis have also failed to lay the ground for a new order. For the new political elite cast into power by the elections last January has been unable even to begin to create a stable and strong Iraqi state to replace the one overthrown in April 2003. The increasing daily casualty rate for Iraqis, from 26 in early 2004 to an average of 64 in this fall, is only the most glaring sign that something has gone terribly wrong, and not for lack of any American effort to turn the situation around.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect the situation to change following Thursday’s election. There is little chance that the winner will command the authority inside Parliament to reverse the decline, for a simple reason: the Constitution.

All signs suggest that this Constitution, if it is not radically amended, will further weaken the already failing central Iraqi state. In spite of all the rhetoric in that document about the unity of the “homeland of the apostles and prophets” and the “values and ideals of the heavenly messages and findings of science” that have played a role in “preserving for Iraq its free union,” it is disunity, diminished sovereignty and years of future discord that lie in store for Iraq if the Constitution is not overhauled.

Any government that emerges from the coming elections will be fatally undermined in at least three ways.

First, the Constitution establishes a supremely powerful Parliament, which can ride roughshod over the executive. While that Parliament, as it is designed in the Constitution, looks like a democratic institution, it doesn’t work like one. Rather, it is an artificially constructed collection of ethnic and sectarian voting blocs. If the experience of the interim government is any guide, the few people who control those blocs are the ones who will wield real power, and they will do so largely through handpicked committees and backroom wheeling and dealing. Because this cabal of powerbrokers also chooses the president and the prime minister and can dismiss them with a simple majority, there will be no check on the tyranny of majorities operating under the aegis of the legislature.

Second, executive power is divided between the president and the council of ministers, guaranteeing that major decisions will be met with the same tension and paralysis that have plagued the present government. Both the president and the prime minister (it is assumed, though not explicitly stated, that these two posts will be apportioned out to a Kurd and a Shiite Arab, as they are at present) can separately present bills to Parliament – a sure recipe for conflict. And both the president and the prime minister can be fired after a no-confidence motion endorsed by a parliamentary majority. At a time of civil war and pervasive violence, in other words, no one person or institution can be said to be in charge of the executive branch of the federal government.

Third, the Constitution encourages the transformation of governorates and local administrations into powerful, nearly sovereign regions that, with the exception of Kurdistan, have no underlying basis for unity. And while the articles dealing with the functioning of the federal government are poorly worded and intended to dissipate executive power, the 10 articles of Section 5, on the powers and manner of formation of new regions, are a model of clarity and have been drafted with the sole purpose of encouraging new regions to be created at the expense of the federal union.

This guarantees that the more Iraqi provinces opt for regional status, and get it, the more the federal state will shrivel up and die. Moreover, with the exception of those who reside in provinces without oil (or in Baghdad, which cannot join a region), it is in the interest of every populist demagogue to press for regional status, because it is at that level that the lawmaking that truly affects day-to-day life will take place.

The powers of the new regions will be enormous. Not even the Iraqi Army can travel through one without the permission of the regional Parliament. And should there be any doubt about where the whip hand will lie on any issue not explicitly addressed in the Constitution, Article 122 states: “Articles of the Constitution may not be amended if such amendment takes away from the power of the regions … except by the consent of the legislative authority of the concerned region and the approval of the majority of its citizens.”

An Iraqi wit known only as Shalash al-Iraqi has lampooned this devolution of power in an imaginary constitution, called “The Federalism of the City of Thawra and its Environs,” posted on the Internet. Its preamble reads:

Congruent with the wave of federalisms that is sweeping Iraq, the City of Thawra and its surrounding neighborhoods have decided to constitute themselves as a federal region…. For this purpose a Constituent Assembly of the representatives of the most important and influential tribes in the City has been established … [and it] has noted that the City of Thawra [is well suited to become a region because it] floats on a lake of oil, and possesses a huge labor force along with an independent army and police force … In addition the city is bounded by a canal, which is its water link to the cities of the adjoining sisterly Republic of Iraq…

“We, people of the valley east of the canal, …have of our own volition and free will decided to separate from the people of Baghdad and all the other irritating governorates like Ramadi, Diwaniya, Tikrit, Darbandikhan, Samawa and all the rest… The adoption of this, our constitution, will free us from all the headaches and problems of Iraq.”

There is nothing wrong with having strong regions within a federal union. Unfortunately the new Iraqi Constitution fails to inject the glue that would hold such a union together: the federal government. It sets up a regional system with big short-term winners (Shiite Arabs and Kurds) and big short-term losers (Sunni Arabs). It even allocates extra oil and gas revenues to the regions that generate them, on the implicit assumption that because of the political inequities of the past, the state owes the Sunnis of the resource-poor western provinces less than it does the Shiites and Kurds. But these provinces are not significantly better off than other parts of Iraq.

Iraq’s Sunni Arabs voted solidly against the Constitution not because they are Saddam Hussein loyalists, nor because they hate the Kurds and Shiites (as some of the insurgents do); they voted against it because by doing away with the central state, which they had championed during the previous 80 years, and penalizing them for living in regions without oil, the Constitution became a punitive document – one that began to seem as if it was written to punish them for the sins of the Baath.

What is wrong with pursuing the Constitution to its logical conclusion: the breakup of Iraq? Nothing, if that breakup is consensual and does not entail an escalation in the violence tearing the country apart. But such is not the case. The debate in Parliament over the Constitution was extremely polarized and artificially cut short by the majority. Moreover, if a mere 83,283 people in the province of Nineveh had voted no instead of yes, the draft constitution would have been defeated.

Sunni opposition to the new order will continue. Crushing it by force, as some Shiite hotheads in the Parliament’s majority bloc are calling for, will be an extremely bloody business. Even if the long-term outcome of an all-out Iraqi civil war is not in doubt, the body count and destruction would make Lebanon’s war look like a picnic. No moral person can condone the parliamentary majority that makes this happen.

The 2003 Iraq war has indeed brought about an irreversible transformation of politics and society in Iraq. But this transformation has not consolidated power, as the great revolutions of the past have tended to do (in France, Russia and even Iran), nor is it distributing power on an agreed upon and equitable basis, as happened after the American Revolution and as Iraqi liberal democrats like myself had hoped would happen after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Rather, it is dissipating it. And that is a terrifying prospect for a population whose primary legacy from the Saddam Hussein era is a profound mistrust of government in all its forms.

By ceding and dismissing centralized power, Iraqis may end by ceding all their power. Iran in the short run, and the Arab world in the long run, will fill the vacuum with proxies, turning the dream of a democratic and reborn Iraq into a dystopia of warring militias and rampant hopelessness.

The reaction against tyranny in Iraq was always going to take the form of a new kind of state in the Middle East, one that in the minds of those who struggled against the regime of Saddam Hussein had to be profoundly decentralized. And federalism did not have to entail the dissipation of power. As it was first envisioned, a federal Iraq promised to safeguard against despotism while furnishing a framework both strong and flexible enough to reconcile the competing demands of its citizens.

Federalism first entered the lexicon of the Iraqi opposition in 1992, when the newly created Kurdish Parliament voted in favor of it as a way of governing the relation of Kurdistan to the rest of the country. That vote was ratified a few months later by a conference of the Iraqi opposition in Salahuldin, in northern Iraq.

Remarkably, the idea of federalism survived the bitter infighting among Iraqi exiles in months before the 2003 war, becoming one of the few common denominators in the discourse of the opposition about the future of Iraq. The fact that there was no literature in Arabic on federalism to speak of, and that Iraqi parties and organizations did not know or agree upon what federalism meant, and that Iraqi politicians did not bother themselves with thinking about what it might mean, did not deter individuals, parties and organizations from continuing to advocate it.

I was one of the idea’s most ardent Arab advocates. In Salahuldin, I delivered the keynote speech on the subject, not only endorsing the Kurdish Parliament’s decision, but presenting federalism as a general solution to the problems of the Iraqi state. A federalism based on Iraq’s existing 18 governorates broke the rotten mold of Iraqi and Arab politics, I argued. No Iraqi political organization could afford not to be for it, especially not one that called itself democratic. Without a system of government in which real power devolved away from Baghdad, the autonomous, predominantly Kurdish north must sooner or later opt for separation. And how could any Iraqi expect otherwise, after all the terrible things that had been done to the Kurds in the name of Arabism?

Some Arabs argued that one must concede federalism in the interest of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and because the Kurds are in a position to force it upon us. And we must accept federalism, some Kurds said, not because we really want it, but because the regional situation does not allow us to secede. But utilitarian calculation did not lie behind the democratic argument.

Federalism in Iraq would both separate and divide powers. Painstakingly negotiated arrangements would distinguish the powers of the parts from those of the center, taking care to leave important functions in the hands of the federal government.

We thought it wise to define regions territorially, according to the relative distribution of the population, and to include in the constitution the claim that the country’s resources (in particular oil revenues, the only real source of income for the foreseeable future), would belong to all Iraqis equally and would be managed by the federal government. Different ethnicities and sects would almost certainly form majorities in particular regions. The point was not to change such distributions, but to emphasize the equality of citizenship.

Such a federalism, Iraqi democrats said, was the logical extension of the principle of human rights. It was based on the notion that the rights of the part – whether that part was a single person or a group – should not be sacrificed to the will of the majority. What people like myself failed to appreciate, or understand, before 2003, were the powerful forces driving toward purely ethnic and sectarian criteria for the definition of the “parts” of the new federal idea. The consequence of those forces has been a tremendous weakening of the political idea of Iraq, which the new Constitution has converted into hostility toward central government per se.

A decentralized, federal state system that devolves power to the regions is not the same as a dysfunctional one in which power at the federal level has been eviscerated. The former preserves power while distributing it; the latter destroys it. At the moment Iraqis have a dysfunctional and powerless state. The Constitution does not fix this; it makes it worse.

What began as an American problem is today an Iraqi one. To steer the country away from anarchy and manage the furies that have been unleashed, the following measures need to be undertaken by the new Iraqi Parliament the moment it reconvenes after the elections:

Recognize that at the moment only Kurdistan fulfills the conditions for being a region. Using the Kurdish experience as a model, the Constitution must define the minimum conditions that need to be met by any group of provinces that desire to form themselves into a region. Then set a moratorium of 10 years on the establishment of new regions, this being the time necessary to crush the insurgency, establish properly accountable institutions of law and order and ensure that those applying for such status have met the criteria.

Limit the size of any new region formed after the 10-year period to a maximum of three governorates and fix the existing unmodified boundaries of the 18 governorates of Iraq as the basis for the establishment of new regions.

Delete Article 109, which allocates extra oil revenues to the regions that generate them. There is no defensible case for imposing special reparations on the Sunni populace for the crimes of Iraq’s former leaders.

Appoint a committee of expert constitutional lawyers to make the necessary amendments reconciling the legislature with the executive and the different parts of the executive with each other. This is not a matter that can be resolved by the politicians alone.

Democracy is not reducible to placing an Iraqi seal of approval upon a situation that is manifestly worsening by the day. The 79 percent of people who voted in favor of a constitution that promotes ethnic and sectarian divisions are unwittingly paving the way for a civil war that will cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. Nothing is worth that.

Without the return of real power to the center, the ascent of sectarian and ethnic politics in Iraq to the point of complete societal breakdown cannot be checked. We cannot fight the insurgency, rebuild Iraq and live in any meaningful sense as part of the modern world without a state. There are no human rights, no law, and no democracy without the state; there is only anarchy and a state of insecurity potentially much worse than what Iraqis are experiencing today. For democracy to emerge out of the current chaos in Iraq, the state must be saved from the irresponsibility of the Iraqi parties and voting blocs that are today killing it.

Kanan Makiya, a professor at Brandeis University and the founder of the Iraq Memory Foundation, is the author of “Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World.”

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Wary of Dissent, Tunisia Makes War on the Web
Despite Country’s Relative Openness, Internet Postings Landing Some Critics in Jail

By Daniel Williams
The Washington Post
Thursday, December 22, 2005; Page A25

TUNIS — Lawyer Mohammed Abou wrote sharply about politics in a country where criticism of the government is generally dulled. His outlet was the Internet, the only venue available to politically combative Tunisians, provided they can get around electronic censorship.

He attacked the prison system, likening Tunisia’s jails to Abu Ghraib, Iraq’s notorious American-run penitentiary. He compared Tunisian President Zine Abidine Ben Ali to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a serious affront in the Arab world.

Then the government countered by blocking access to the Web site where Abou’s work appeared. Police picked him up at a pharmacy on March 1 and, a month later, a judge sentenced him to three years in jail for defaming Tunisia’s judiciary and, through a case suddenly brought against him, for assaulting a female lawyer.

His imprisonment became a cause for human rights activists and undermined the country’s carefully cultivated image as a leader of political openness in the Middle East. But the case was not unique. Tunisian security officials are making war on the Internet to prevent critics from using it to launch attacks on the government and Ben Ali, who has been in power for 18 years.

Even as delegates from 175 countries met in Tunis in November for the World Summit on the Information Society, a gathering aimed at spreading information technology around the world, the government kept up its controls. Delegates protested, but to no apparent result.

Government censors routinely block access to content and sites that draw concern. Monitors at public computers keep watch on users to see if they succeed in getting around the obstructions. Writing the wrong thing on the Internet can bring jail time.

“In Tunisia, citizens may be theoretically free to receive and share information, but they are practically prevented from doing so on a number of vital topics by a state that combines sophisticated American technology, harsh laws and informal pressures to limit access,” according to the Open Net Initiative, a joint project of the University of Toronto, Harvard University and Cambridge University that seeks to uncover obstacles to Internet use.

The Tunisian government defends its policy on security and public morality grounds. Habib Cherif, the government’s human rights coordinator, said restrictions are a defense against terrorism, violence and pornography. As for Abou’s criticism, Cherif said “the law forbids slander of the magistrates. Justice must be protected.”

“It’s the law, and so it is applied,” he added. Pressed on whether he, as the government’s chief human rights watchdog, agrees with censorship of all such critical commentary, he replied, “Yes. It is appropriate for a country in transition.”

Transition is a word often used by Tunisian officials when asked about restrictions on speech. The government prides itself on its relative openness, compared with its neighbors, Algeria, which experienced a vicious civil war in the 1990s, and Libya, which has been under the rule of Moammar Gaddafi for 37 years. Among Middle East countries, Tunisia stands out for its self-declared effort to model itself on European economic and political standards.

But compared with Egypt and Lebanon, countries with vibrant democracy movements, Tunisia looks retrograde. Ben Ali won his latest term in office with 94 percent of the vote against feeble opposition. Headlines from a variety of papers on a recent day featured the same message: lawyers in parliament had praised Ben Ali for his leadership, pursued with “conscience and sacrifice.”

The Tunisian police state is readily apparent. At the Tunisian League for Human Rights in Bizerte, a coastal town north of Tunis, police stood vigil one recent day outside the office, scattering only at the arrival of a reporter. They moved a block away, all speaking into walkie-talkies

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CSID has grown significantly in the past 6 years, and its administrative and financial needs have grown too.  In addition to the staffing of the two regional offices, we are also looking to hire an experienced administrator who can handle all of our administrative and financial aspects.  Responsibilities include payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger, job reports, grant proposal drafting and other administrative support.  Candidate should be detail-oriented, self-motivated, and should be able to produce analytical reports on a monthly basis such as budgets to actual expenditures and other related monthly reconciliations. A degree in accounting and/or administration and 5-10 years experience is required.  Send resume and salary requirements to:

Stanford Summer Fellows on Democracy and Development 2006

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, California, invites policy makers and activists from countries undergoing political, economic and social transitions to participate in its second annual summer fellows program on democracy, development, and the rule of law to be held July 31-August 18, 2006 at Stanford University on its California campus.

This program offers a unique approach to studying the ways in which democratic institutions and institutions that foster economic development can be established and strengthened in varying country contexts. In contrast to other programs of democracy promotion that seek to transfer ready made models to countries in transition, the Stanford Summer Fellows on Democracy and Development program provides a comparative perspective on the evolution of established democratic practices as well as a conceptual background into issues of democracy and good governance.

This program is aimed at early to mid-career policy-makers, academics, and leaders of civil society organizations (such as representatives of trade unions, non-governmental organizations, the media, business and professional associations) who will play important roles in their country’s democratic, economic, and social development. We anticipate recruiting a group of 25-30 individuals dedicated to democracy and development promotion within their home countries (particularly in, but not limited to, the regions of the Middle East, Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and other parts of the former Soviet Union).

Successful applicants will be proficient in spoken and written English and will have academic and practical credentials necessary to benefit fully from the course and actively contribute to programmatic discussions. The ideal course participant will have extraordinary motivation, at least three to five years of experience in a relevant field of democratic development, and a keen interest in learning and sharing knowledge and experiences in transforming their respective countries.

Stanford will pay travel, accommodation, living expenses, and visa costs for the duration of the three-week program for a certain portion of applicants. Where possible, applicants are encouraged to supply some or all of their own funding from their current employers, international non-governmental organizations, etc.

Please follow the instruction for applying found here.  In addition to the completed application form, you must provide at least two but no more than three letters of recommendation from people who know you in your capacity of a development worker.

Deadline: January 6, 2006 Further details here or from Ganka Hadjipetrova, SSFDD Program Coordinator, at or phone at (+1 650) 736-4277.

Eurasia Fellowships
Social Science Research Council

The Eurasia Program of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is offering teaching fellowships at both the pre-doctoral and postdoctoral levels for the 2006-2007 academic year to support research, writing, training, and curriculum development on or related to the New States of Eurasia, the Soviet Union, and/or the Russian Empire. Applicants in all disciplines of the social sciences or humanities are welcome. The fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of State under the Program for Research and Training on Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII). To apply & for additional information go here. Deadline: January 24, 2006 at 9:00 p.m.

Transatlantic Democracy Promotion: Feel a Research Conference Coming On?
German Marshall Fund

Democracy promotion is a priority theme for a new German Marshall Fund (GMF) program of transatlantic policy research conferences designed to support scholars and policymakers working on transatlantic policy issues.  GMF will award a total of six grants of up to $25,000 each for transatlantic policy conferences in the 2006-07 academic year.  American and European university-based scholars from any discipline may apply.  Conference proposals should include scholars from the United States and Europe, and preference will be given to those proposals with a comparative and interdisciplinary approach.  Proposals will be evaluated on their intellectual merits, transatlantic cooperation, engagement with the policy community, and potential policy impact through publications or other means.  Questions of interest include : How does democracy promotion compete with or complement more traditional foreign policy objectives such as security and stability?  What policies and tools are appropriate for the aims of weakening authoritarian regimes and for sustaining new democracies?  Have Americans and Europeans adopted different approaches to democracy promotion?  What has been the impact of these policies over time or in different places?  How does democracy promotion vary in post-conflict situations? 

Deputy Country Program Director: Amman, Jordan
AFL-CIO Solidarity Center

The Deputy Country Program Director will work as the primary support person in the field office to the Country Program Director (CPD) and in the absence of the CPD will assume the representational function of the CPD and responsibility for the management of the office and local staff. Further details here. Please send cover letter and rsum to: Lisa Humphries, Human Resources Officer, Solidarity Center, 1925 K Street, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20006 E-mail: Fax: (202) 778-6348 Only short listed candidates will be contacted for an interview. Closing date of application: When filled.

Country Program Director, based in Algiers, Algeria
AFL-CIO Solidarity Center

The Country Program Director is responsible for the effective management of a field office and field programs. S/he is the representative of the Solidarity Center and the AFL-CIO in the country or region of assignment. S/he is thoroughly conversant with all aspects of regional program activities and current events relevant to the ongoing political, economic, social, and trade union developments in the country or region. Further details here. Please send cover letter and rsum to Lisa Humphries, Human Resources Officer, Solidarity Center, 1925 K Street, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006; by e-mail to; or by fax to 202-778-6348. Only short listed candidates will be contacted for an interview. Closing date of application: When filled.

Administrative Assistant, Middle East and North Africa. Based in Washington, D.C.
AFL-CIO Solidarity Center

The administrative assistant assists the Regional Program Director and Program Officers in a variety of administrative and clerical functions. Must be able to handle multiple tasks with attention to detail. Prepares and exchanges information with other sections of the Center, as required. Please send cover letter and rsum to: Lisa Humphries, Human Resources Officer, Solidarity Center, 1925 K Street, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20006 E-mail: Fax: (202) 778-6348 Only short listed candidates will be contacted for an interview. Closing date of application: December 30, 2005

Middle East Program Manager – Washington, D.C.
IFES-democracy at large

IFES is seeking a Program Manager for the Maghreb to provide programmatic and financial management direction and support for IFES’ current and developing programs in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Manages execution and tactical delivery in support of project goals. Participates in development of division’s strategic plan. For further details, phone: (202)350-6700 Email:

Resident Country Director for West Africa – West Africa (Country tbd)
International Republican Institute

The Resident Country Director (RCD) is the most senior IRI representative in the West Africa region and has the ultimate responsibility, authority and accountability for IRI’s operations in the country to which they are assigned. The Director is responsible for the design and implementation of IRI’s program in the country. S/he develops long range and annual plans for the country program, identifies key players and partners in IRI programs, and works with Regional program and local program staff to develop and implement a wide variety of program activities, including, as appropriate, political party capacity-building, coalition-building, election-monitoring and voter education activities and others. CONTACT: IRI – HR Department Email: (subject: RCD W. Africa) Fax: 202-408-9462 Full details here. Apply by: January 31, 2006

Resident Country Director, Egypt
International Republican Institute

The Resident Country Director (RCD) is the most senior IRI representative in Egypt and has the ultimate responsibility, authority and accountability for IRI’s operations in the country. The Director is responsible for the design and implementation of IRI’s program in the country. S/he develops long range and annual plans for the country program, identifies key players and partners in IRI programs, and works with Regional program and local program staff to develop and implement a wide variety of program activities, including, as appropriate, political party capacity-building, coalition-building, election-monitoring and voter education activities and others. Please send resume and cover letter to: IRI, HR Dept/RCD Egypt, 1225 Eye St, NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20005 or e-mail to: or Fax: 202-408-9462; No phone calls please. IRI is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Resident Political Party Expert-Bahrain
National Democratic Institute

The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) is seeking a Senior Political Party Expert or legislative professional to coordinate training and consultative meetings with political societies and manage political party program activities in Bahrain. Primary responsibilities will include the design and implementation of training programs for political society leaders including: 1) a series of workshops to develop party structures and campaign skills which would include public opinion research to inform policy platforms; 2) a series of in-depth trainings to develop political leadership skills amongst select individuals; 3) ongoing multi-society roundtable discussions on current political issues; and 4) training for poll watching agents. These activities would also promote women’s participation as society members, leaders and elected representatives. Full details here. Interested applicants can apply using NDI’s on-line resume tool. Please cite the exact position title in the cover letter. Apply by: December 31, 2005 at:

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الإعلان عن تأسيس شبكة الديمقراطيين في العالم العرب  

بلال التليديالدار البيضاء
20/12/2005  جريدة التجديد

انعقد بالدار البيضاء بتاريخ 16-17 دجنبر 2005 المؤتمر التأسيسي لشبكة الديمقراطيين في العالم العربي، بحضور 62 معنيا بأوضاع الديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان ممثلين لأربع عشر دولة عربية. 

وعلى مدار يومين متتاليين، ناقش المشاركون برنامج عمل لدعم الديمقراطية، ودواعي إنشاء الشبكة المتمثلة في تفاقم الأزمات والممارسات الاستبدادية، وظهور مؤشرات خطيرة مثل الإقصاء والتطرف والعنف في العالم العربي، بالرغم من ظهور بعض المؤشرات الإيجابية على المستوى المحلي والدولي، مما يستدعي الحاجة لتنسيق جهود الديمقراطيين واستثمارها في إطار جامع للديمقراطيين وجميع القوى المؤمنة بالديمقراطية. 

واعتمد المشاركون في عملهم مرجعية العهود والمواثيق الدولية لحقوق الإنسان والتراث الإنساني، ومبادئ الإسلام ومقاصده، وما دعت إليه الأديان من قيم سامية كالتسامح والتعايش. 

وقد حدد المشاركون أهداف الشبكة التي تتمثل في العمل على: 

نشر ثقافة الديمقراطية والحكم القائم على سيادة القانون، وتوفير الدعم والتضامن للنشطاء ودعاة الإصلاح في الوطن العربي، وتسريع وتيرة الإصلاح باتجاه التحول الديمقراطي، والتأثير في السياسة الداخلية والدولية بما يخدم الشعوب العربية ويحافظ على استقلاليتها وسيادتها، والقيام ببرامج ونشاطات ناجعة وفعالة.

ومما أوصى به المشاركون. 

التركيز على استقلالية الشبكة، وأهمية الممارسة الميدانية، وآليات تدعيم الديمقراطية ودعم الناشطين في العمل الديمقراطي.

وقد كان من بين الذين حضروا وساهموا في إنجاح هذا المؤتمر السيد سعد الدين إبراهيم، والإمام الصادق المهدي، وقد عبر المشاركون عن أسفهم لعدم تمكن الدكتور عصام العريان القيادي في جماعة الإخوان المسلمين من الحضور بسبب منع السلطات الرسمية له. وقد ضم هذا المؤتمر مختلف التوجهات الممثلة للطيف الفكري والسياسي، من القوميين والإسلاميين واليساريين، وقد تم تنظيم المؤتمر بالتعاون مع مركز دراسة الإسلام والديمقراطية، ومؤسسة شركاء من أجل التغيير والديمقراطية، ومركز الدراسات والأبحاث الإنسانية. 

يذكر أن هذا المؤتمر التأسيسي جاء تتويجا لجملة من الخطوات ابتدأت بمؤتمر عمان، ثم بتأليف كتاب جماعي حول الإسلام والديمقراطية، لتأتي الخطوة التأسيسية لهيكلة هذا الإطار، وتمكينه من آليات الاشتغال داخل الوطن العربي. 

وقد ركز السيد الصادق المهدي والسيد صلاح الدين الجورشي -باعتبارهما ناطقين رسميين عن الشبكة – خلال الندوة الصحفية على طابع الاستقلالية للشبكة مقللين من الشكوك التي أثارها البعض، داعين إلى ترك الفرصة لهذه الشبكة كي تشتغل، وتوضح رؤيتها ومنهجها في العمل. 

وأكد السيد صادق المهدي أن التطلع نحو الديمقراطية كان أملا عربيا سابقا للمشروع الأمريكي في المنطقة، وذكر أن أمريكا اليوم بصدد مراجعة كلية لموقفها من نظم الحكم الاستبدادية، فبعد أن كانت تدعم هذه الأنظمة وتزكي الاستبداد اقتنعت بأن مصالحها الاستراتيجية تقتضي دعم التحول والديمقراطي والإصلاح السياسي في العالم العربي. غير أنه شدد على أن هذا الإصلاح ينبغي أن يكون مبادرة داخلية تتحمل فيها الشعوب العربية أعباء النضال

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 إنشاء شبكة الديمقراطيين في العالم العربي  


بمشاركة يمنية وبهدف توحيد جهود الناشطين في المجال الديمقراطي.. أعلن الاحد في الدار البيضاء بالمملكة المغربية عن إنشاء شبكة الديمقراطيين في العالم العربي. 

وجاء الإعلان خلال اجتماع دعا اليه من مركز السلام والديمقراطية في العالم العربي وحضره 62 ناشط ومفكر ممثلين للمجتمع المدني من مختلف الاقطار العربية. 

ومثل اليمن في تأسيس الشبكة عزالدين سعيد الاصبحي مدير مركز المعلومات والتأهيل لحقوق الإنسان. 

ومن المقرر أن تعمل الشبكة على تنسيق جهود منظمات المجتمع المدني والناشطين في المجال الديمقراطي وحقوق الإنسان من اجل تفعيل دور المجتمع المدني في الاصلاحات الديمقراطية الشاملة. 

وسيكون للشبكة مقرين احدهما في المغرب والآخر في الأردن ومن المقرر كذلك أن تنسق الشبكة لجهودها التدريبية مع مركز المعلومات والتأهيل لحقوق الإنسان )(HRITC) في اليمن

المصدر : الصحوة نت

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كتاب جديد يربط بين الديمقراطية والمبادئ الإسلامية
التوافق بين الموضوعين ضروري لتقبل الديمقراطية

من رالف دانهايزر، المراسل الخاص لنشرة واشنطن 

 2005 واشنطن، 5 كانون الأول/ديسمبر

إن الديمقراطية لا يمكن أن تضرب بجذورها في العالم الإسلامي إلا إذا رأى المواطن العادي أنها تتماشى مع الإسلام. هذا ما قاله مركز دراسات الإسلام والديمقراطية ومؤسسة ستريت لو اللتان تسعيان لنثر بذور التطور الديمقراطي في الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا. 

فقد قال رضوان المصمودي مؤسس مركز دراسات الإسلام والديمقراطية ومديره التنفيذي “إن كل شخص في العالم الإسلامي إذا طُرح عليه الاختيار بين الإسلام وأي شيء آخر، فإن اختياره سيكون الإسلام دائما. والمشكلة أن الديمقراطية قدمت إليهم في حالات كثيرة كشيء غريب، وكشيء لا يتماشى مع الإسلام، وكان عليهم الاختيار بين الاثنين“.

وأضاف المصمودي أن “ذلك خيار زائف، فهم غير مضطرين للمفاضلة بين خيارين، وعلينا أن نقنعهم بذلك. علينا أن نقدم لهم الديمقراطية ونربط بينها وبين المفاهيم الإسلامية التي اعتادوا عليها” مثل مبدأ الشورى.

ولتحقيق هذا الهدف، كلفت الجهتان 8 مؤلفين ينتمي كل اثنين منهم إلى الدول الأربع التالية: مصر والأردن والجزائر والمغرب لإعداد كتاب باللغة العربية يزاوج بين مفاهيم الديمقراطية والمبادئ الإسلامية. 

وكان نتاج ذلك كتابا بعنوان الإسلام والديمقراطية: نحو التوصل إلى مواطَنَة فعالة، وقد أعد الكتاب على نمط كتاب وضع منذ أكثر من عشر سنوات للاستخدام في جنوب أفريقيا ودول أخرى تعتبر من الديمقراطيات الناشئة، لكن معدي الكتاب أعادوا صياغة النص بحيث يتلاءم مع القراء المسلمين. 

وتعتزم الجهتان المشاركتان في إنتاج الكتاب عرضه على قيادات المجتمع في الدول الإسلامية على أمل أن تنقل تلك القيادات رسالة الديمقراطية إلى مواطنيها. 

يذكر أن مركز دراسات الديمقراطية والإسلام هو مركز أبحاث مقره في العاصمة واشنطن يكرس جهوده “للدعوة للإصلاحات الديمقراطية في العالم الإسلامي، والربط بين القيم الإسلامية ومبادئ الحرية والمشاركة السياسية” أما مؤسسة ستريت لو فهي جماعة تتخذ أيضا من العاصمة واشنطن مقرا لها وتتعهد بمد المواطنين “بالتوعية والتعليم الضروريين حول القانون والديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان بأسلوب عملي يتصف بالمشاركة“. 

ويعتبر المصمودي أن التعاون بين مركز دراسات الإسلام والديمقراطية ومؤسسة ستريت لو علاقة شراكة طبيعية. وذكر أنه قال للمسؤولين في مؤسسة ستريت لو “إنكم تعرفون كيفية تعليم الديمقراطية أو التوعية بها، ونحن لدينا معلومات عن الإسلام وكيفية التعريف به. فلنعمل معا ونتعاون في هذا المشروع“. 

وتتصف ماري لاركين مديرة البرامج الدولية في مؤسسة سترين لو بالقدر نفسه من الحماس للمشروع وتؤكد أن التعليم والتوعية هما أفضل الوسائل الفعالة للدعوة إلى الديمقراطية. 

وقالت “إننا يجب ألا نتصرف كدعاة. فإعطاء المعلومات حول الديمقراطية، وإعطاء المعلومات عن تمشيها مع الإسلام ، سيؤدي بالشعوب إلى اتخاذ قرار بأنها الأفضل بالنسبة لهم“. 

* الكتاب يعلم ويوعي من خلال سيناريوهات واقعية

من بين المشاركين في إعداد كتاب الإسلام والديمقراطية أحد الأعضاء الجدد في مجلس الأعيان بالأردن وأحد أعضاء البرلمان في كل من المغرب والجزائر، بالإضافة إلى  أستاذ جامعي وصحفي واثنين من الخبراء في مجال حقوق الإنسان وناشط في الدعوة لتوعية المواطنين. 

والكتاب الواقع في 129 صفحة حافل بالحقائق، والفلسفة، وفيه تدريبات عملية، وتم الإعلان عنه وتقديمه للجمهور يوم 29 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 2005 

ويحتوي الكتاب على فصول مخصصة للتعريف بالديمقراطية، وأسلوب إدارة الدولة، والفساد وإساءة استخدام السلطة، والانتخابات، والمشاركة السياسية للمواطنين.

وقد ورد في مقدمة الكتاب ما يلي: “إن الكتاب لا يتخذ موقفا سياسيا أو دينيا بالنسبة للإسلام والديمقراطية ويجتهد لتقديم مواد محايدة ومتوازنة. إننا نهدف إلى تشجيع الحوار والمناقشة، والدعوة إلى التسامح ، وتأييد مشاركة المواطنين“. 

وتقول لاركين إن التدريبات التي يضمها الكتاب تستند إلى خبرات ومواقف يمكن أن تكون معروفة لقرائه. ففي أحد التدريبات الخاصة بشرعية السلطة يقدم موقفا تحول فيه المتظاهرون في الشارع إلى السلب والنهب بعد إخفاق الحكومة المنتخبة شرعيا في تخفيف حدة أزمة اقتصادية. فتستولى على السلطة مجموعة من ضباط الجيش وتفرض الحلول الخاصة بها. 

ويسأل نص التدريب: أي من المجموعتين هو صاحب السلطة المشروعة في الحكم في تلك الحالة: الحكومة المنتخبة أم الحكومة العسكرية؟

وتدريب آخر للبحث في مسؤولية كبار المسؤولين ومحاسبتهم أمام القانون، يقدم حالة مدير بنك يستدعى للشهادة في تحقيق في قضية فساد، ويشهد بأنه تصرف بأوامر من مسؤول كبير في الحكومة. 

ويطلب الكتاب من القراء التفكير في “توصيف حجج مدير البنك، وإن كان يجب استدعاء المسؤول الكبير للشهادة، ولماذا، وماهي حجج المحققين، وأخيرا يسأل القارئ: إذا كنت أنت القاضي، فماذا يكون حكمك؟ 

* جولة دعاية للكتاب تشمل وقفتين في المغرب والجزائر

بدأ المصمودي ولاركين واثنان من زملائهما جولة تستغرق 10 أيام في المغرب والجزائر اعتبارا من 4 كانون الأول/ديسمبر لتقديم الكتاب إلى القيادات المدنية والدينية والتعليمية، والمسؤولين في المنظمات غير الحكومية بالبلدين، وتعريفهم بكيفية استخدام نصوص التدريبات في مجتمعاتهم.

وقالت لاركين “إننا نستهدف الوصول من خلالهم إلى أكثر من ألفي مواطن عادي في كل دولة. وسنمدهم بالمواد اللازمة. إننا ملتزمون بأن نخرج المناقشات حول الديمقراطية من المؤسسات الأكاديمية والأبراج العاجية لأن الديمقراطية تتحقق عندما يرغب فيها عامة الناس“. 

وتعتزم المجموعة القيام بزيارت مشابهة إلى مصر والأردن في كانون الثاني/يناير، وإذا نجحت تلك الزيارات الاستطلاعية الأربع، فإن الجهات الراعية للكتاب تأمل في نقله إلى دول أخرى. 

ولدى المصمودي “توقعات كبيرة” لما يمكن أن يحدثه الكتاب من تأثير في جميع أرجاء العالم الإسلامي بالنسبة لشرح مفاهيم الديمقراطية بلغة بسيطة.

وقال “إن مركز دراسات الإسلام والديمقراطية عقد ربما مئات المؤتمرات حول موضوع الإسلام والديمقراطية. لكننا بعد فترة لاحظنا أن من يترددون على تلك المؤتمرات هم نفس الأشخاص كبار المثقفين، وكبار القيادات السياسية والدينية في البلد وهؤلاء لا يحتاجون إلى تلك المؤتمرات“. 

ثم أضاف “إن التحدي الآن هو كيفية إقناع ملايين الأشخاص في العالم العربي.” ثم تساءل: ومع انتشار الديمقراطية في العالم، “متي سيكون لدينا في العالم العربي أناس يخرجون في تظاهرات سلمية للمطالبة بالحرية والديمقراطية؟ 

وقد وصف أحد المشاركين في إعداد الكتاب وهو الدكتور عماد شاهين الأستاذ بالجامعة الأميركية في القاهرة، وصف الكتاب بأنه “كتاب عملي، كما أنه يغرس قيما محددة.” وأضاف “إنه ليس دليلا سطحيا لكيفية تعليم الديمقراطية في منهج مكثف لمدة خمس دقائق. إنني أعتقد أنه كتاب متمعق لأنه يحاول أن يعرض القيم بأسلوب مبسط ، وليس ساذجا، أسلوب مبسط جدا، ومباشر جدا لدرجة تجعل الاطلاع عليه سهلا بالنسبة للجميع“.

من ناحية أخرى أعرب على أبو زعكوك مدير برنامج الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا في مركز دراسات الإسلام والديمقراطية عن ثقته في أن الجهد المشترك للمركز ومؤسسة ستريت لو المتمثل في الكتاب يمكن أن يدفع إلى الأمام بموجة الإصلاح البازغة بالنسبة لحقوق الإنسان، والمسؤولية والمحاسبة، والشفافية أو الوضوح في العديد من الدول العربية. وإن التجربة الحديثة أثبتت أن “الضغوط من الداخل، من منظمات المجتمع المدني إذا اقترنت بشيء من الدفع من الخارج تسفر عن تحقيق نتائج“. 

تاريخ النشر: 05 كانون الأول/ديسمبر 2005 آخر تحديث: 05 كانون الأول/ديسمبر 2005

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رئيس مجلس الشورى يرعى افتتاح ندوة (الشورى والديمقراطية والحكم الرشيد(

د. ابن حميد: الحكم الرشيد هو الذي تقوم به القيادات ملتزمة بتطوير المجتمع مع اشراكهم في القرار 

تغطية – محمد الفضلي

    تحت رعاية معالي رئيس مجلس الشورى فضيلة الشيخ الدكتور صالح بن عبدالله بن حمبد افتتحت مساء أمس ندوة الشورى والديمقراطية والحكم الرشيد بالتعاون بين مركز الملك فيصل للبحوث والدراسات الإسلامية ومركز دراسة الإسلام والديمقراطية بواشنطن وقد بدئ حفل الافتتاح بكلمة الأمين العام لمركز الملك فيصل للبحوث والدراسات الإسلامية الدكتور يحيى محمود بن جنيد حيث تحدث عن هذه الندوة بقوله:

هي في ظني ندوة فريدة في نوعها، لأنها تعالج موضوعاً حيوياً ثلاثي التمدد أوله الشورى، ووسطه الديمقراطية، وخاتمته الحكم الرشيد، والمحوران الأولان ينتهيان في الأخير؛ لأن مدار الحكم، سواء أكان شورياً أم ديمقراطياً هو تحقيق العدالة وتوفير متطلبات العيش الكريم وحقوق الإنسان بما يؤدي إلى إشاعة الرفاهية والأمن والسلام. 

ولسنا هنا في مجال مقارنة أو مفاضلة، ولكن من نافلة القول إن الشورى هي من أسس الحكم في الإسلام الذي يقوم في مجمله على مبادئ شرعية مستقاة من الكتاب والسنة، وأهمها رعاية حق الله على عباده وعدم التفريط في ذلك، وهنا تأتي نقطة الخلاف حيث تنطلق الديمقراطية من مفاهيم بشرية وتنظيرات تختلف عن التطبيق مكاناً وزمناً..، لأن حدود المصطلح الذي تعنيه واسعة قابلة للتفسير وفقاً للهوى والغرض، فقد تشن الحروب ويقتل البشر وتدعم حكومات ظالمة متعسفة باسم الديمقراطية. والدلائل على ذلك كثيرة جداً، ولا يعني هذا الانحراف عن الحق أن الديمقراطية لا خير فيها؛ بل المؤكد أنها تحمل بذور خير تتفق مع قيم الإسلام ومبادئه كما ان الشورى قد لا تطبق في زمان أو مكان وفق الرؤية الشرعية ومن ثم فما يلحقها من سلبيات هي من فعل الإنسان، وليس من منبعها، ومن هنا فإن مثل هذه الندوة قد توقفنا على المفارقات وتوضح لنا بؤر الالتقاء بين المفهومين في سبيل تحقيق الحكم الرشيد. 

بعد ذلك، ألقى الأستاذ الدكتور رضوان المصمودي رئيس مركز دراسات الإسلام والديمقراطية كلمة قال فيها: إن امتنا العربية والإسلامية أيها الأخوة والأخوات تمر بظروف صعبة وأزمة خانقة وخطيرة سببها الرئيسي هو انتشار ظاهرة الفساد والاستبداد بعد أن كانت الحضارة العربية والإسلامية هي الرائدة والسائدة في كل الميادين الثقافية والسياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية والعلمية والسؤال الذي يفرض نفسه علينا هو لماذا تأخر المسلمون وتقدم غيرهم رغم الثروات الهائلة المادية والبشرية التي تتمتع بها الشعوب والدول العربية والإسلامية؟ لماذا تقدمت دول غربية مثل اسبانيا – على سبيل المثال – فأصبح مجموع دخلها القومي يعادل أو يضاهي مجموع الدخل القومي لكل الدول العربية مشتركة بعد ان كان منذ خمس وعشرين سنة فقط – يعادل مجموع دخل دولة عربية واحدة وهي المملكة المغربية؟ 

وأضاف الدكتور المصمودي : إنني مقتنع تمام الاقتناع ان سبب قوة وتقدم الغرب هو قدرتهم على بناء أنظمة سياسية تجعل الدولة في خدمة المواطن وتوفر مناخا عاما من الحرية والعدالة التي تسمح للمواطن رجلا كان أم امرأة – طفلا أم كهلا من أن يحقق كل أحلامهما ويساهم بكل امكانياته وطاقته من أجل بناء نظام متكامل ومتطور، بينما أغلب الأنظمة السياسية التي تتحكم في عالمنا العربي والاسلامي والتي ورثناها من عصور الأنحطاط أو الاستعمار هي أنظمة مستبدة ظالمة وفاسدة تنتهك حقوق الإنسان ولا تحترم كرامته ولا تمارس الشورى. 

بعد ذلك ألقى معالي الشيخ الدكتور صالح بن حميد رئيس مجلس الشورى كلمة قال فيها: لو ذهبنا نتلمس أو نتتبع معنى الرشد في الحكم والرشاد فيه وفي كلام مباشر فالمقام – يقتضي الاختصار – وفي لغة عصرية ومصطلحات ايضا لوجدنا ان الرشد في عمومه يعني التنظيم وحسن استعمال الموارد والوقت والقوى وحسن استثمار الطاقات والعلاقات بل وحتى الكلمات والعبارات فلا يكون الأمر مفيداً ولا ناجحاً الا اذا كان منظما متنظما وهو ما يعني الاستخدام الأمثل لكل طاقات المجتمع البشرية والمادية على حد سواء. 

هذا التنظيم يقود إلى النظرة المرتبة الكلية الشمولية والبعد عن الانفرادية والأشخاص والارتباط بالرموز. 

أي الرجوع إلي النظام والدستور والقانون واللوائح والمؤسسات وكلما زادت الأمة في التقدم والنضوج ابتعدت عن الأفراد والتعلق بالأشخاص إلى الانتقال بالنظام والمؤسسات والعمل من خلال مجموعة الترتيبات التي تسير بمقتضاها الأمة والدولة. والحكم الرشيد (الصالح) هو الحكم الذي تقوم به القيادات العليا ملتزمة بتطوير موارد المجتمع وبتقدم المواطنين وتحسين نوعية حياتهم والحفاظ على قيمهم مع اشراكهم في القرار ودعمهم في ذلك. 

وإدارة الدولة والمجتمع في الحكم الرشيد (الصالح) ذات ثلاثة أبعاد مترابطة: 

البعد السياسي المتعلق بطبيعة السلطة السياسية وشرعيتها

البعد التقني المتعلق بالإدارة العامة وكفاءتها وفاعليتها

البعد الاقتصادي والاجتماعي المتعلق بطبيعة بنية المجتمع المدني ومدى حيويته وفاعليته من جهة وطبيعة السياسات العامة في المجالات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية.

كل ذلك يكون في إطار المشاركة والمراقبة والمحاسبة والشفافية كما سبق وعليه فإن الحكم الرشيد (الصالح) يعتمد على كامل عمل الدولة ومؤسساتهاوالقطاع الخاص والمجتمع المدني.

وفي الدولة المسلمة ذلك كله محكوم بالعقيدة وتعاليم الإسلام وأحكام الشرع المطهر. ومن الممكن ان نسميه هنا بالبعد الديني. ويقصد به الالتزام بأحكام الإسلام باعتبار ان الإسلام جاء للدنيا والآخرة وباعتبار ان لا انفصال بين الديني والسياسي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي والثقافي وغيرها من مكونات الفرد والأمة. 

ودعوني أقول هنا ان الخطأ الشائع جداً ما تتناقله وسائل الإعلام وكتابات المثقفين وبعض المفكرين من القول بالإسلام السياسي فهي تسمية خاطئة ومصطلح لا وجود له في الإسلام البتة فالإسلام عقيدة وعبادة وسياسة واقتصاد واجتماع وثقافة. 

وأضاف ابن حميد بقوله: اسمحوا لي ان أذكر بعض العناصر أو المزايا أو الخصائص أو المبادئ – فالتسمية غير ذات بال – التي نحتاجها أو يوفرها الحكم الرشيد. 

منها: المشاركة في صناعة القرارات والسياسات وتحمل المسؤوليات. 

ومنها: الشفافية في التعامل والشفافية في الحصول على المعلومات وأركان المعلومات وان من المعلوم ان هناك دائرة سرية في بعض الظروف أو المجالات كظروف الحرب أو المجال العسكري والأمني. 

ومنها: منع الفساد ومكافحته بطريقة مؤسسية ومن خلال النظم. 

ومنها: المساءلة والمحاسبة بحيث يكون متخذو القرار وصناعوه في كل القطاعات مسؤولين أمام المواطنين بعامة وذوي العلاقة بصفة خاصة. 

ومنه: استقلالية القضاء وضمان نزاهته وحصانته وتعزيز سلطان النظام والقانون. 

ومنها: الحريات المنضبطة والمسؤولية وبخاصة في الإعلام وكل ما يدخل في ميدان الرأي العام. 

ودعوني اختم بما يلحظ على اللفظ النبوي الكريم الخلفاء فالذي يبدو والله أعلم ان المصطفى صلى الله عليه وسلم اختار هذا اللفظ للإشارة إلى ان هذه مسؤولية تأتي بالاستخلاف فالمسؤول قد خلف من قبله وهو سوف يخلفه من بعده فهي غير دائمة وهي تسن بمنع الاستبداد وظن البقاء والدوام. 

وبعد استراحة قصيرة أقيمت الجلسة الأولى من هذه الندوة وقد رأسها الدكتور عبدالله بن عثيمين وشارك بها كل من الدكتور نصر محمد عارف والدكتور صالح الأطرم والدكتور سعد الدين العثماني والدكتور محمد دربيشي حيث تحدث بداية الدكتور نصر عارف حول الأسس المعرفية للنظم السياسية الإسلامية من خلال معالجة قضايا هي منهجية تتناول النظام السياسي في الأدبيات المعاصرة والاشكاليات المتعلقة بمصادر البحث في النظام السياسي الإسلامي وتوقع النموذج الإسلامي للحكم من نظم الخطاب القرآني ومنهجية تجريد نماذج الحكم التاريخية وأخيراً قضية المشترك الإنساني وحدود التعاطي مع الخبرات المعاصرة بعد ذلك تحدث الدكتور الأطرم عن حكم الشورى في الإسلام حيث ذكر أنها واجبة فيما يخص مصالح الناس العامة وكذلك تطرق إلى حكم هل الشورى ملزمة أم معلمة، أي هل يلزم الحاكم العمل بها أم يكفيه العلم بها لو لم يأخذ بها، بعد ذلك تحدث الدكتور سعد الدين العثماني عن تصرفات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم بالإمامة أو طبيعة الممارسة السياسية في الإسلام وقسم تصرفات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى تصرفات تشريعية وتصرفات غير تشريعية وهي التي لا يقصد بها الاقتداء والاتباع. 

بعد ذلك، تحدث الدكتور محمد دربيش الذي أكد على غياب الشورى الحقيقية في عالمنا الإسلامي وذكر بأننا لن نستطيع ان نضع فقهاً سياسياً ونحن أمة مهزومة وقال بأن مملكة التخيل تضعف مع البعد عن القرآن الكريم وان الاهتمام بالمستقبل كمؤسسة وخبرة في الدول العربية غير موجود، وذكر شروط تطبيق الشورى، وفي نهاية الجلسة كان للحضور مشاركة عن طريق المداخلات والأسئلة 

مساء اليوم: رئيس مجلس الشورى يرعى ندوة الشورى والديمقراطية والحكم الرشيد

الأمير تركي: تشكل هذه الندوة جزءاً من اهتمام مركز الفيصل بالقضايا الفكرية المعاصرة 

 كتب – محمد الفضلي:

الاثنين 17 من ذي القعدة 1426هـ – 19 ديسمبر 2005م – العدد 13692

تحت رعاية معالي رئيس مجلس الشورى الشيخ الدكتور صالح بن عبدالله بن حميد تفتتح مساء اليوم ندوة علمية بعنوان الشورى والديمقراطية والحكم الرشيد بالتعاون بين مركز الملك فيصل للبحوث والدراسات الإسلامية ومركز دراسة الإسلام والديمقراطية بواشنطن، وتناقش هذه الندوة التي تستمر فعالياتها على مدى يومين موضوعات تتناول الأسس المعرفية للنظم السياسية الإسلامية ومفاهيم الشورى والديمقراطية واشكالية العلاقة بينهما مفاهيميا وتاريخياً ودورهما في عالم اليوم وموقف الإسلام من الدولة الحديثة والحريات السياسية ومفهوم الحكم الرشيد، وتناقش أيضاً الأبعاد النظرية للتحولات الإصلاحية في الوطن العربي والسياقات الدولية لدعوات الإصلاح ودور المجتمع المدني في التحولات الإصلاحية وكذلك تجربة الشورى في المملكة العربية السعودية. 

ويشارك في هذه الندوة عدد من الباحثين والاكاديميين من المملكة العربية السعودية وخارجها. 

وبهذه المناسبة صرح صاحب السمو الملكي الأمير تركي الفيصل رئيس مجلس إدارة مركز الملك فيصل للبحوث والدراسات الإسلامية وسفير خادم الحرمين الشريفين في الولايات المتحدة الامريكية قائلاً: تشكل اقامة هذه الندوة جزءاً من الاهتمام الذي يبديه مركز الملك فيصل للبحوث والدراسات الإسلامية بالقضايا الفكرية المعاصرة التي يموج فيها العالم الإسلامي، وفي اطار جهوده لترسيخ علاقات فعالة مع مراكز البحوث والدراسات ذات الاهتمام المشترك في جميع دول العالم ومنها مركز دراسة الإسلام والديمقراطية بواشنطن. 

وتكتسب هذه الندوة اهميتها من كونها ستناقش اسئلة جوهرية حول علاقة ديننا الإسلامي الحنيف بالمفاهيم الفكرية المطروحة في الساحتين الإسلامية والدولية في ظل التحديات الكبيرة التي يواجهها العالم الإسلامي وفي كونها تناقش تجربة الشورى في الإسلام وتطبيقاتها وتجربة الشورى في المملكة والخطوات التي قامت وتقوم بها المملكة في سبيل تعزيز تجربتها دون المساس بثوابتها ومقدساتها، وأشار سموه إلى أهمية استمرار الحوار حول الاسئلة الجوهرية المتعلقة بمفاهيم الشورى والديمقراطية والحكم الرشيد، وتعميق الحوار حولها بما يسهم في ايضاح هذه المفاهيم للتعامل معها بعلمية وواقعية واعتدال.

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