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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

October 4, 2005

October 4, 2005


CSID EMAIL BULLETIN –October 4, 2005

>Ramadan Mubarak from CSID
>Islam and Democratization -The Winds of Change (By Anwar Ibrahim)
>Islamic Calvinists: Change and Conservatism in Central Anatolia
>Female Actitivsts Decry US Policy (by Glenn Kessler)
>Wrestling with rights and the meaning of the life in the Arab World
صلاح الدين الجورشي: الديمقراطية في العالم العربي .. إلى أيـن؟

Happy Holy month of Ramadan

رمضان مبارك 

أعاده الله عليكم وعلى جميع المسلمين بالخير والبركات

Dear Friends and Members of CSID:

May this Holy month be a month of piety, forgiveness, good health, and closeness to our Creator.  May God shower you, all Muslims, all oppressed and suffering people, and all of mankind with His mercy and guidance, and guide us all to the right path, the path of brotherhood, peace, harmony, respect, and dignity.

May God help us to become better Muslims and better human beings and to strive together for a better and more peaceful world for all of us and for our children.

May we all reap the rewards and great benefits of this Holy month of fasting, prayers, and remembrance.

                                                          Radwan Masmoudi
                                                          President, CSID

Ramadan Mubarak by Jacob Bender, 2005.



Sixth Annual Conference

Democracy and Development: Challenges for the Islamic World

Washington, DC – April 22 – 23, 2005

Islam and Democratization The Winds of Change

By: Anwar Ibrahim

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Distinguished Senior Fellow, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, and Senior Associate, St Anthonys, Oxford University

Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: I am deeply humbled by this award and I accept it in all humility. I would also like to share this award with Dr Azizah, whose tenacity in the face of adversity continues to be a source of strength for me. Let me thank the Center for this great honor, but let me not hesitate to say that there are still thousands out there who are in jail one way or the other for their political beliefs. Let us take this opportunity to express our solidarity with them; let us resolve to continue to support the cause of freedom regardless of color, creed or religion

About two months after gaining freedom, I visited Indonesia to call on old friends and to congratulate them for the remarkable success story in political reform, that is, the practice of democracy on a scale unseen in the Muslim world. The changing tide in the rise of democracy in other parts of the Muslim world pales before this nation with the largest Muslim population as it stands out as the most significant political development in the recent history of democracy

When the Asian financial crisis broke out, Indonesia was among the worst affected. But just as it is always darkest before dawn, the riots, violence and the killings were the birth pangs to the emergence of a new nation. In place of oppression and dictatorship, Indonesia is now secured by the pillars of freedom and democracy. Indeed, Indonesia can serve as a model of democracy for the world. There were attempts to galvanize Islamic radicalism, but when Muslims in Indonesia were asked to choose between ideological exclusivism and moderation they overwhelmingly chose the latter. They took the road that was closed on them by 30 years of corrupt dictatorship. They elected for a free press, an independent judiciary and free speech. They elected for freedom and democracy. And the changes brought about now provide an enduring lesson on making that giant leap from autocracy to democracy without violence or bloodshed.

The other enduring lesson from Indonesia, which reinforces what I have been advocating for some time now, is that the impetus for democratization of the Muslim world can and must come from Muslims themselves. And that is what Indonesia has done. Why must such a process be driven by America or Europe or any other region for that matter? We hear the view that Islam and democracy are diametrically opposed because it is argued that sovereignty belongs only to God. By juxtapositioning the exercise of state power with the sovereignty of God, this view confers on tyranny the mantle of not only worldly legitimacy but divine ordination. On the other hand, secularists raise the specter of radical Islam gaining power in the event of elections by popular vote. This generates fear among established democracies in the West who naturally then opt for the so-called lesser of two evils, which is to allow secular despots to hold on to power. The upshot of all these is that the Muslim world suffers the dubious distinction of having the longest ruling autocrats and dictators

Clearly therefore it is not Islam but the exploitation of the fear factor that has precluded the democratization of the Muslim world. I call on Islamists who are opposed to democracy to change their mind set and work towards developing a vibrant democracy. Marshall the forces of freedom and harness them so that Muslims may stand up for their fundamental dignity and establish the institutions of democracy, freedom and civil society.

Compact to constitutional freedoms While the history of Islams expansion is replete with the stories of conquest, it is equally true that Islam was also spread through commerce and trade. Even as it spread its wings, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies evolved. Muslim societies in this regard stood out for their tolerance and moderation, not chauvinism or bigotry. Isnt it therefore conceivable that when the seeds of democracy and freedom are planted in the hearts of Islamists these values will germinate in the psyche of their worldview? In the current tide to move to democracy, Islamist political parties, and for that matter other parties as well, should be bound by a compact to respect and honor the values and principles of democracy and freedom, and not to renounce them upon gaining power

In promoting democracy and freedom, it is imperative that outside parties should be weaned away from their fixation on perpetuating the separation of church and state. For the Muslim world, a more productive pursuit lies in finding how democracy and freedom can resonate through Islams public and private realms. For Islamists in particular embracing democracy and freedom should carry no stigma. Accepting democracy and freedom is not converting to American values or ideals; nor does it mean that they will have to stop criticizing US foreign policy, culture or values

Likewise, it is also misconceived for the US to view the movement of Islamists to democracy from the prism of so-called die hard fundamentalist groups in the Arab world. This fallacy has led to the assumption that Islamists are diametrically opposed to the United States and will have nothing to do with them, or worse, that they will work towards the destruction of the America. This anxiety sometimes borders on paranoia and is of course completely unfounded, 9/11 notwithstanding. Yet, we must concede that anti-American sentiments are not a mere figment of the imagination. While I do not propose to discourse on their underlying causes, it may perhaps be useful to take a moment to look closer into this

There seems to be a general consensus that the underlying causes for the progress of political reform in the Muslim world, particularly in the Middle East, have their roots in the Bush Administrations forward strategy of freedom. Under this strategy, democracy and freedom is to be spread across the Muslim world through multilateral as well as bilateral initiatives. True, these efforts have made some impact but they have not succeeded in ameliorating anti-American sentiments as a whole. To a large extent, this is because the strategy has been long on rhetoric but rather short on reality

I say this because American foreign policy vis–vis the Muslim countries is still mired in a strategy of selective ambivalence. This is a policy of vicariously aiding certain countries to resist the tide of reform through omission rather than commission. This policy has meant turning a blind eye to blatant human rights violations and other kinds of abuses which clearly make a mockery of the democracy and freedom being preached. This policy means that in return for the support to the United States in the war against terror, these countries are made strategic partners and are given economic aid and other sweeteners. To my mind, this is a case of reverse conditionality. This strategy of selective ambivalence confers on repressive regimes the mantle of legitimacy simply because they raise the specter of terror and vow to fight it as an ally of the United States

These regimes are not averse to claiming legitimacy through Islam even though the people are denied civil liberties enshrined in Islam. How can anyone talk of an ideal Islamic society without freedom of thought and _expression, or freedom from arbitrary arrest and rule of law? Isnt it farcical to talk of an ideal Islamic society without sustainable economic development, social justice or cultural empowerment? Can there be an ideal Islamic society where intellectual development is stifled and women continue to be treated as second-class citizens?

ISLAM AND CIVIL SOCIETY While the bloodshed of Algerias aborted elections of 1992 continues to haunt us, the lessons of history should fortify instead of weaken our conviction to pursue freedom and democracy. 9/11 should never be allowed to take us backwards. That there is a need to wage war on terror is not in dispute in as much as terrorism terrorizes all. But the zeal with which this war is being prosecuted should be reinforced by the conviction to forge ahead to promote the principles of freedom and democracy where they are needed most, not sacrifice them on the altar of expediency

Even leaving aside now the issue of selective ambivalence, one has to be rather guarded about jumping to conclusions when talking about the winds of change in the Muslim world. Apart from Indonesia, and to a certain extent Turkey, do elections really demonstrate that democracy is alive or are they merely tools to legitimize state power? Isnt it true that certain states continue to be under one-man or one-party rule despite the trappings of reform including the possibility of presidential elections? A few elections do not make a civil society

To be fair, certain states are already moving positively and firmly on the path to real democracy. Yet I must caution that one may be long on promise but short on delivery. All Muslim countries must seize the moment now to adopt modern, democratic constitutions, hold free and fair elections, ensure the separation of powers and guarantee fundamental civil liberties including allowing the full participation of women in political life. They must put a stop to extra-judicial procedures, arbitrary arrests, and the use of the state apparatus to silence political opposition. With these institutions and practices in place, abuse of power will be checked, corruption can be more effectively dealt with, and economic wealth can be more equitably distributed to the people

Role of a vibrant opposition Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties become pious platitudes when the voices of dissent are not allowed to be heard. Democracy is participatory government in its fullest sense and that presupposes the existence of a vibrant opposition, as the bulwark against the tyranny of absolute power

Opposition must not be just merely tolerated but must be allowed to flourish as the peoples conscience. Its paramount role is to hold the powers that be to account when they go astray and to remind them that power is trust, not might.

The challenges ahead remain daunting for the Muslim world as well as for America. Many parts of the Muslim world still look at the United States as arrogant purveyors of power. And it doesnt serve the cause of freedom for America to merely dismiss this perception as a manifestation of hatred of modernity or hostility fuelled by fundamentalist ideology. I have no hesitation in applauding the role of the United States in promoting freedom and democracy, not just in the Muslim world but the world at large. After all, freedom is not a territorial construct. Nor is democracy only needed in the Muslim world. As Ive said before, whatever its faults, the United States has been the strongest advocate of democracy throughout the world without which the voices of freedom would have remained still and silent

As for the Muslim world, let us forge ahead with a renewed resolution to fight not just extremism and terrorism but authoritarianism and despotism in all its guises. Let us not forget the untold acts of torture, brutality and massacre committed under the regimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Dung and Saddam Hussain. Even today, Gulags, sham trials and information apparatchiks continue to oppress and terrorize the people. These remain the greatest impediments to freedom and democracy and the establishment of the institutions of civil society

In this regard, I dare say with conviction that the role of Muslims in the West should not be taken lightly. Muslim civil societies in America such as the CSID for example must be applauded for their intellectual and moral leadership in the quest for freedom and democracy. It is our fervent hope that they will continue in this noble cause and not recoil in the face of adversity. The time is ripe to move forward

On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures 

Thank you.

Mr. Ibrahim received the CSIDs Muslim Democrat of the Year Award during the annual banquet on April 22, 2005, Washington, DC

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Dear Colleagues:

This weeks Worth Reading is Islamic Calvinists: Change and Conservatism in Central Anatolia, a research report published September 19, 2005, by the European Stability Initiative (

The report addressed the common European perception that Turkey has two souls, the first represented by the cosmopolitan outlook of Istanbul and the second by the rural, traditional, and religious orientation of the Anatolian heartland.

Although the Turkish interior is often seen as backward, impoverished, and distinctly non-European in its values, in fact the region has experienced a dramatic economic transformation in recent decades. The ESI report focused on the development of three key industriesfurniture manufacturing, textiles, and agriculturein the Kayseri Province of Central Anatolia to trace the impact of economic modernization on political, religious, and social attitudes in the heartland.

Strikingly, the report noted, a number of people in Kayseri describe their community by reference to Calvinism and the Protestant work ethic. A former local mayor is even quoted as insisting that to understand Kayseri, one must read Max Webers Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

The experience of Kayseri, the report concluded, provides evidence that a new generation in Central Anatolia has made its own peace with modernity. As the time approaches in which Europeans will have to decide on Turkeys application to join the European Union, ESI has published this report for all those who wish to consider Turkey and its European aspirations in the light of current realities.

The complete text of Islamic Calvinists: Change and Conservatism in Central Anatolia is available at

The European Stability Initiative, a nonprofit research and policy institute with offices in Berlin, Brussels, and Istanbul, joined the Network of Democracy Research Institutes in December 2004. Many thanks to ESIand especially to RoBen Gosejohann of ESIs Istanbul officefor providing this weeks Worth Reading.

With best wishes,

Tom Skladony

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Turks Challenge Hughes On Iraq: Female Activists Decry U.S. Policy

By Glenn Kessler – Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 29, 2005; Page A16

ISTANBUL, Sept. 28 — A group of Turkish women’s rights activists confronted Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes on Wednesday with emotional and heated complaints about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, turning a session designed to highlight the empowering of women into a raw display of the anger at U.S. policy in the region.

“This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero,” said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women’s Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.

Hughes, a longtime confidante of President Bush tasked with burnishing the U.S. image overseas, has generally met with polite audiences — many of which consisted of former exchange students or people who have received U.S. funding — during a tour of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week.

In this case, the U.S. Embassy asked an umbrella group known as Ka-Der, which supports women running for office, to assemble the guest list. None of the activists currently receives U.S. funds or had any apparent desire to mince words. Six of the eight women who spoke at the session, held in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, focused on the Iraq war.

“War makes the rights of women completely erased, and poverty comes after war — and women pay the price,” said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women’s rights activist. Vargun denounced the arrest of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq, in front of the White House this week.

Hughes, who became increasingly subdued during the session, defended the decision to invade Iraq as a difficult and wrenching moment for Bush, but necessary to protect the United States.

“You’re concerned about war, and no one likes war,” Hughes said. But “to preserve the peace, sometimes my country believes war is necessary,” she said. She also asserted that women are faring much better in Iraq than they had under the rule of deposed president Saddam Hussein.

“War is not necessary for peace,” shot back Feray Salman, a human rights activist. She said countries should not try to impose democracy through war, adding that “we can never, ever export democracy and freedom from one country to another.”

Tuksal said she was “feeling myself wounded, feeling myself insulted here” by Hughes’s response. “In every photograph that comes from Iraq, there is that look of fear in the eyes of women and children. . . . This needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”

Turkey, a member of NATO, has long been a close U.S. ally, but relations have soured during the Bush administration, especially after Turkey’s parliament blocked a request to allow U.S. troops to use its territory to invade Iraq from the north. National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley visited Ankara last week as part of a new effort by the White House to mend ties.

The Turkish public has also been rattled by an increase in attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, an armed separatist group of Turkish Kurds operating out of northern Iraq. The United States has faced accusations that it has not done enough to rein in the group.

Nurdan Bernard, a journalist participating in the panel session, raised concerns about the PKK, prompting Hughes to say it was “somewhat an irony.” She added: “Sometimes you have to engage in combat in order to confront terrorists who want to kill you.”

Hughes later flew to Istanbul for meetings with religious leaders — part of an effort to promote interfaith dialogue — and with Turks who have participated in U.S. exchange programs. She returns to Washington on Thursday.

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Moncef Al-Marzouki: The enemy within

Wrestling with rights and the meaning of life in the Arab World

“Human rights cannot be separated from politics.”

Moncef Al-Marzouki, official spokesman of the National Tunisian Council for Freedoms, rubs the side of his face, crosses his legs and frowns as he sips tea on the terrace of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

But his grimace quickly wears off. A toothy grin is never far from his face. He takes in at a glance the sweeping views of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour.

Tunisia’s foremost rights activist is about to return to his homeland and is understandably excited about meeting friends and family. And no, just for the record, he does not fear the wrath of the authorities.

He speaks at length about the pace of political reform in the Arab world. If it wasn’t so pathetic you would have to laugh, he says.

“The spectre of absolute dictatorship seems to be inching closer, not fading away.”

He talks of the hardships faced by Tunisia’s rural poor, recalling his sojourn in the village of Al-Qalaa Al-Kubra, the Great Citadel, 15kms from the coastal city of Susa where Al-Marzouki worked with 20 paramedics and 60 nurses. He learned, he says, a great deal from the rural poor. He was raised in urban poverty, but it was the arena of rural public health that politicised Al-Marzouki.

He delves into the nooks and crannies of everyday life in Tunisia. The economy is collapsing and the political climate discouraging. Then, suddenly, he veers off politics.

“Alexandria reminds me of Tunis, of the Mediterranean cities of the Maghreb. It is very different from Cairo,” he muses.

Al-Marzouki has always been controversial, and the controversy, as often as not, seems to centre on style rather than substance. He is brash, say his detractors. He has matured, say others.

So is he more mellow now?

“Absolutely not,” he laughs softly. “For the past 10 years I have led a campaign to assert my right to stand as a presidential candidate. Why can’t I aspire to be a presidential hopeful? I have a more legitimate claim to stand than the Tunisian president. He is standing for office for the fourth time. He should give others the chance to run the country.”

So is Zein Al-Abidine Ben Ali here to stay? In all likelihood Ben Ali’s re-election as Tunisian president in 2009 will be conducted in time-honored fashion, with much fanfare and few votes. Which tends to suggest Marzouki is not as much of a political threat to Ben Ali as many suppose.

Yet this presidential hopeful exudes confidence and self- assurance, and manages to do so without the slightest hint of arrogance. He seems genuine and down-to-earth, though without any suggestion of weakness or indecision.

In short, Marzouki sounds electable.  It is not as if Marzouki has spent a lifetime coveting the top job. Nor was his bid for the presidency conjured up to promote personal interests. There were — and are — colossal personal risks in his candidacy. He stood as a presidential candidate in 1994, and lost.

“Presidential and parliamentary elections in the Arab world are a big joke,” he explains. “We have a saying: he [the politician] sells the monkey and laughs at the buyer [the electorate].”

Throughout the Arab world political establishments remain determined to whitewash the record of their governments, and Tunisia is no exception.

“The country is run as the personal fiefdom of President Ben Ali,” says Marzouki. And despite promulgating a series of increasingly repressive laws designed to make life harder for dissenting voices, the West seems determined to turn a blind eye to the gross human rights abuses committed in yet another police state.

Ben Ali has been in office since 7 November, 1987. And Tunisians have yet to take to the streets in protest against his authoritarian rule.

Political apathy is all pervasive in Tunisia. “Nobody watches Tunisian TV. Everyone watches Al-Jazeera and other Pan-Arab satellite television channels.”

“But people are voting with their feet,” says Al-Marzouki. “Young Tunisians are trying to leave the country in droves and some pay a high price. Many are lost at sea trying to cross the Mediterranean. Inflation, unemployment and corruption are ruining the country and driving its youth overseas.”

Marzouki was raised in a political household. His father, who belonged to the Pan-Arab nationalist strand of the Tunisian anti- colonial struggle then headed by Saleh Ben Youssef, visited Egypt in the 1950s and was besotted with the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser.

“My father was a Nasserist, a Pan-Arabist,” Marzouki explains. “I am a secularist democrat. I am for social justice.”

My father was a man of both the pen and the gun. He lived and died in exile in Morocco. His generation fought for national self- determination and political independence.

They struggled against colonial rule. My generation has a different task altogether. We fight against totalitarianism and authoritarian rule. We fight for freedom from state oppression.”

It is a fight that could spell trouble not only for the Tunisian president, but for the entire Tunisian political establishment.

But not this time round. Marzouki will not be campaigning for this month’s presidential elections. “I can’t stand this time round. The laws have been changed to ban me from standing for president,” he says nonchalantly.

So after two decades at the helm it looks unlikely that Ben Ali will lose his job, and certainly not to a presidential hopeful. Alternative presidential candidates are in any case, Al-Marzouki explains, picked by the president.

Tunisian elections might not offer voters much choice, but they offer a semblance of democracy.

Tunisia’s rulers, like many others, realize they must adjust their dictatorial and secretive style to something more in tune with the United States vision of Western-style multi-democracy. But while Marzouki is all for multi-party competition, he realizes that it is a good idea open to abuse.

Tunisia’s regime sanctioned opposition parties that are hardly more popular than the ruling party. Indeed, they are an extension of the ruling party. The opposite side of the same coin. The Tunisian electorate knows all too well that the opposition parties will not shake up the Tunisian political system. And their response is simple. They don’t vote.

Tunisian opposition parties have only 34 seats in the 182-seat parliament and two of those parties — the Democratic Socialist Movement (13 seats) and the Democratic Unionist Party (seven seats) — have called on their supporters to vote for Ben Ali in the forthcoming presidential elections.

Tunisia’s official opposition parties have clearly chosen to stick to the pecking order to which they have become accustomed, with the consequence that disaffected Tunisians are shunning politics altogether.

As far as Marzouki is concerned the official opposition is a bunch of squabbling partisans. And the Islamists? “There is no real Islamist movement in Tunisia today,” he states categorically.

Tunisia’s secular opposition parties have never fought in anything that resembles a real election. Everything, even political pluralism, is geared towards enhancing presidential powers.

A constitutional referendum in May 2002 gave Ben Ali the right to run in this year’s presidential elections and again in 2009 if he so desires. The key changes approved in the 2002 plebiscite, which drew the usual 99.52 per cent “yes” vote, raised the age limit for Tunisia’s president 70 to 75 and also guaranteed immunity from prosecution.

Tunisia has a long history of authoritarian rule. Habib Bourguiba, president since independence from France in 1956, ruled the country with an iron fist until he was unceremoniously unseated by Ben Ali.

The Tunisian constitution, adopted on 1 June, 1959, was amended on 12 July 1988 and then again in 2000, changes that were designed to legitimize a president clinging onto office.

Ben Ali’s policy, says Marzouki, is three-pronged: “to remain indefinitely in power, to remain indefinitely in power, to remain indefinitely in power.” The 1999 presidential polls he dismisses as an electoral fiasco. And he doesn’t expect anything to change in this year’s elections, in which the participation of hand-picked opposition candidates will offer a veneer of international respectability to a ruler who is seen as a key ally of the West in the fight against international terrorism.

I ask if he was concerned about the danger of challenging Ben Ali.

“The first time I was interrogated by the security forces I was eight years old,” Al-Marzouki explains. “It was a plainclothes policeman. He shot a glance at my tattered shoes, big toe sticking out, and promptly bought me a new pair of shoes. It was a bribe of sorts. He wanted my cooperation. He wanted me to tell on my parents. He wanted to know my father’s whereabouts. The next time he knocked on the door looking for me, my mother hid me and told him that I had spent the night at my grandmother’s.”

Marzouki left Tunisia for exile in Morocco as an impressionable 15-year-old adolescent.  It was the first of three departures, and probably the most painful.  As a child he read voraciously. Sindbad, an Egyptian magazine, was his favorite. Al-Ayam, or (Days), the autobiography of Taha Hussein, was another book that was always by his side. He would read, and re-read it, summer after summer, each time discovering something new.

“There were always books and guns in our household,” he recalls. “My father was a freedom fighter. A dedicated anti-colonial resistance fighter.”

Eventually Marzouki left Morocco for France, enrolling in the medical school at the University of Strasbourg. He studied and worked in France for 15 years before returning to Tunisia, where he wrote articles as a freelance writer for Al-Raai, (the Opinion), a leftist paper, and joined the Democratic Socialists, a party that quickly collapsed.

“I consider myself a second rate citizen in Tunisia,” he says. “I want to live like a free citizen with full political and civil rights. No totalitarian or authoritarian rule is good, even when the leadership is of the calibre of Gamal Abdel-Nasser,” he states categorically. “The 1967 Arab defeat drove that point poignantly home.”

By Gamal Nkrumah

Source : Al Ahram Weekly, Issue No. 712, 14 – 20 October 2004

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صلاح الدين الجورشي: الديمقراطية في العالم العربي .. إلى أيـن؟

عندما يُـلـقي المراقبون أو الفاعلون السياسيون نظرة من فوق على العالم العربي، قد يتملكهم إحساس بالتشاؤم وشك في إمكانية أن تنتصر الديمقراطية في أرض العرب.

لكن مع الاقتراب من تفاصيل المشهد، يتغير الانطباع قليلا، حيث تبدو المنطقة تعجّ بالحراك هنا وهناك بشكل يُـوحي بأن التحول الديمقراطي قد بدأ فعلا وإن كان لا يزال بطيئا وفي مرحلته الجنينية.

على الرغم من أن النضال في سبيل الإصلاح السياسي تمتـد جذوره في العالم العربي إلى أكثر من قرن ونصف، إلا أنه اكتسب في الفترة الأخيرة بُـعدا مختلفا بسبب حالة التجاذب التي فرضتها التطورات الدولية الأخيرة بين الداخل والخارج.

وبالرغم من أن حديث الحكومات الغربية، وفي مقدمتها الولايات المتحدة، عن دمقرطة المنطقة لا يزال مجرد شعار لا أثر له على مستوى رسم السياسات وتغيير واقع العلاقات مع أنظمة الحكم في المنطقة، باستثناء حالات قليلة ولاعتبارات استراتيجية مختلفة ومثيرة للشكوك، فإن هناك – على صعيد مواز – عديد المبادرات التي تبلورت في الفترة الأخيرة أو لا تزال في حالة مخاض تقف وراءها منظمات وهيئات غير حكومية محلية أو غير عربية، يعلن أصحابها بأنهم يهدفون إلى التغيير من تحت دون تهديد مبدإ السيادة، وإن تقاطعت هذه المبادرات أحيانا مع جوانب من الأجندة الدولية المطروحة على المنطقة.

في هذه الورقة، رصد لبعض هذه المبادرات وتعريف بها وتساؤلات حول طبيعتها، ومدى قدرتها على البقاء وتحقيق الأهداف التي أنشأت من أجلها؟

الوثائق المرجعية

على الصعيد النظري، يمكن القول أن المجتمع المدني العربي أصبح يملك مجموعة من الوثائق المرجعية التي صاغتها فعالياته (بكل ما فيها من تنوع واختلاف) بكامل الاستقلالية، ولم تُـصـدّر له من خارج الحدود.

ومن هذه الوثائق نشير إلى “إعلان صنعاء حول الديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان – يناير 2004″، و”وثيقة الإسكندرية – مارس 2004″، و “الاستقلال الثاني: نحو مبادرة للإصلاح السياسي في الدول العربية – بيروت في مارس 2004″، و”إعلان الربـــاط: نحو شراكـــة متكافئـــة من أجــل الديمقراطيــة – ديسمبر 2004″، وخاصـــة “وثيقة استراتيجيات مساهمة المجتمع المدني في التحول الديمقراطي في البلدان العربية المعروفة باسم وثيقة الدوحة – يناير 2005”.

أما على الصعيد العملي، فقد برزت على السطح في معظم البلاد العربية منذ أوائل الثمانينات والتسعينات من القرن الماضي، بنية تحتية هامة من المنظمات غير الحكومية التي يتمتع بعضها بمصداقية عالية. هذه البنية لا تزال تتعزز بشكل مستمر بعدد متزايد من المنظمات والمراكز والشبكات الجديدة.

وكل ذلك قد شكل رصيدا هاما من العلاقات والخبرات المتفاوتة التي تنتظر تشكيلها في إطار تحالفات وكتل اجتماعية فاعلة، قد تكون نواة مركزية في مشاريع التحول الديمقراطي المنشود على الصعيدين، المحلي والإقليمي.

نكتفي في هذا السياق بذكر ثلاث مبادرات: بدأت الأولى تشق طريقها منذ شهر ديسمبر 2004، بينما لا تزال الثانية والثالثة في مرحلة المخاض.

الحوار من أجل المستقبل

ومن نتائج المشاورات التي جرت بين الدول الكبرى الثمانية في العالم، قيام ما سمي بـ “الحوار من أجل المستقبل” من خلال وضع “برنامج حوار دعم الديمقراطية” المعروف اختصارا بـ (DAD). وهو برنامج تعهدت ثلاث حكومات هي إيطاليا وتركيا واليمن بتنفيذه ومتابعته.

وقد دخلت هذه الحكومات في مشاورات للشراكة مع ثلاث منظمات غير حكومية محلية معروفة بمصداقيتها. وفي هذا السياق، تم خلال الأشهر الماضية مناقشة عديد القضايا الهامة، كان آخرها المؤتمر الإقليمي الذي عقد بصنعاء من 19 إلى 20 سبتمبر 2005، وخصص لمناقشة موضوع “التحولات الديمقراطية، ودور المجتمع المدني”.

وقد أشرف على إدارة هذا المؤتمر الذي شكّـل حدثا هاما في اليمن العشرات من المنظمات والجمعيات المحلية والعربية “مركز المعلومات والتأهيل لحقوق الإنسان”. وقد شكل التنسيق بين هذا المركز ومنظمة “لا سلام بدون عدل” الإيطالية، و”المؤسسة التركية للدراسات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية” في تركيا صيغة من “التحالف” بين عديد المنظمات العربية، بما في ذلك بعض الجمعيات التي سبق وأن قاطعت الاجتماع الموازي لمنتدى المستقبل الذي عقد بالمغرب خلال العام الماضي.

شركاء من أجل الديمقراطية

أما المبادرة الثانية فهي بصدد التشكل، ويتولاها “مركز الإسلام والديمقراطية” الذي يوجد مقره في واشنطن. فبعد تنظيم عديد المؤتمرات في الكثير من البلدان العربية، نجح المركز في بناء علاقات واسعة مع شخصيات ذات توجهات فكرية وسياسية مختلفة، ويطمح حاليا في الارتقاء بتلك العلاقات من مستوى اللقاءات الظرفية ضمن ندوات فكريـــة تحـــاول أن تقلــل من الفجــوة القائمـــة بين الإسـلامييـــن و”العلمانيين”، إلى مرحلة بناء علاقات أوثق بين الطرفين.

ولتحقيق ذلك، دعا المركز مجموعة من الشخصيات، اجتمعت مؤخرا في العاصمة الأردنية عمان، وقررت بعد نقاش مستفيض تأسيس شبكة تحمل اسم “شبكــة الديمقراطيين العرب”. وأعدت لذلك مشروع ميثاق وخطة عمل أولية ستتولى عرضهما على شبه مؤتمر تأسيسي للشبكة يتوج بالإعلان عنها رسميا، وتحضره حوالي ستون شخصية خلال شهر ديسمبر القادم.

ويأمل أصحاب المبادرة في توسيع دائرة العضوية لتشمل حوالي ألف شخص، مع احتمال فتح المجال أمام عضوية الجمعيات. وستتميز هذه الشبكة عن بقية المبادرات بتركيزها على تشجيع أصحاب التوجهات الإسلامية على القيام بمبادرات مشتركة مع خصوم الأمس بهدف المساهمة في تحقيق تحول ديمقراطي عربي حقيقي وفاعل، بعيدا عن الانغلاق الفكري ولغة التهديد السياسي.

وسوف تسهم مؤسسة “شركاء من أجل التغيير الديمقراطي” في تنمية قدرات أعضاء الشبكة من خلال تنظيم دورات تدريب عالية في مجالات عديدة مثل “بناء الشبكات، والمفاوضات، والتحالفات وقدرات التخطيط التعاوني للجمعيات الأهلية”. وقد أنشئت هذه المؤسسة عام 1989، ولها تجارب في أكثر من خمسين بلد.

المثال الثالث الذي نسوقه في هذا الإطار هو “مركز الشراكة العربي للديمقراطية: مركز الكواكبي”، الذي لا يزال يخطو خطواته الأولى، وهو يضم حوالي خمسين من الشخصيات العربية والدولية.

ويقول مؤسسوه، إن فكرة المركز نبعت من “وعيهم بحاجة المنطقة العربية لتوفير الخبرات في مجال التحولات الديمقراطية، وملاحظتهم وجود نقص حاد بالنسبة للقدرات البشرية والمؤسساتية القادرة على مصاحبة المراحل الانتقالية الصعبة”. وقد قبل مؤخرا الأمير الحسن بن طلال أن يكون رئيس مجلس التمكين لهذا المركز، ويولى مهمة التنسيق السيد محسن مرزوق (من تونس).

هذه بعض العيّـنات الدالة على وجود مساعي متعددة لإرساء شيء ملموس على الأرض، عساه أن يساهم في تحقيق التحول الديمقراطي السلمي.

الخروج من النفق

وإذا كانت القوى السياسية والأيديولوجية العربية في الستينات والسبعينات من القرن الماضي قد سعت للبحث عن سند سياسي وأيديولوجي، وحلفاء من خارج الحدود الضيقة لأوطانها، مثل الأمميات المتعاقبة، والهياكل العالمية التي كانت تطوف حول موسكو أو الصين، وكذلك الشأن بالنسبة لمنظومة الأحزاب الاشتراكية، فإن عديد القوى السياسية والمدنية ذات التوجه الديمقراطي هي حاليا بصدد التعرف على شبكات ومنظومات عالمية تعمل منذ عشرات السنين على دعم التحولات الديمقراطية.

فإلى جانب الفضاءات التي نشأت على هامش مسار برشلونة للشراكة الأوروبية المتوسطية، هناك “الحركة العالمية للديمقراطية” التي تضم ممثلين عن قرابة مائة دولة، أو “المنتدى العالمي للمنظمات غير الحكومية الموازي للمؤتمرات الحكومية لمجتمع الديمقراطية” الذي تنشطه العديد من دول الجنوب، مثل الشيلي والهند وبلغاريا.

في الوقت الراهن، يصعب الحكم على مستقبل كل هذه المبادرات. فهل ستصمد أمام الصعوبات التي يشكو منها العالم العربي وعوائقه السياسية والفكرية؟ وهل ستنجح في أن تحمي نفسها من الهيمنة والتوظيف المتعدد الاتجاهات؟

إنها أسئلة ستُـجيب عنها الأشهر، وربما السنوات القادمة. لكن المؤكد أن هذه المبادرات جزء من محاولات الخروج من النفق، وأن مصيرها سيكون مرتبطا حتما بمدى قدرة المنطقة على إنشاء حركات اجتماعية جديدة وبلورة تفاهمات فكرية ومقايضات سياسية تاريخية وجوهرية.

صلاح الدين الجورشي – تونس
(المصدر: موقع سويس انفو بتاريخ   2أكتوبر2005)

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Zahir Janmohamed at

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