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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

September 26, 2005

  

CSID EMAIL BULLETIN -SEPTEMBER 26, 2005

>LETTER: Update on CSID Projects and Activities
>EVENT: Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam

>EVENT: His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan Bin Talal
>EVENT: The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (in Egypt)
>ARTICLE: Hughes Set to Begin Public Diplomacy (by Gless Kessler and Robin Wright)
>ARTICLE: Promises to Keep in Egypt (by Saad Ibrahim)
>Article: Jordan’s King Abdullah urges Muslims to reclaim religion from extremists (Middle East Times Editorial)
>ARTICLE: Despotism and Persecution of the Moderates: The Case of Issam Al-Erian (by Sadd Eddine Ibrahim)

>ARTICLE: The Koran and the Ballot Box (LA Times)
>ARTICLE: Democracy Promotion: The Case for Transatlantic Partnership (by Joshua Muravchik)
>ARTICLE: Taking Back Islam (by David Ignatius)
>ARTICLE: Jihad’s Fresh Face (by Waleed Ziad)
>ARTICLE: Mubarak Wins Easily but Vote Fails to Engage Egypt (by Daniel Williams)
>ARTICLE: Invasion of the Isolationists (by Francis Fukuyama)
>NEW Report: How Freedom is Won: From Civil Resistance to Durable Demcoracy

>NEW Book: The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (by Fawaz Gerges)
>ANNOUNCEMENT: The Atlas’ Templeton Freedom Awards Program

Dear Friend/Member of CSID:

Assalamu Aleykum (peace be with you), and I hope you are having a nice, enjoyable, and fruitful summer.  I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you about some of the recent activities/projects of CSID, and seek your support and involvement.  As you know, CSID is a non-profit organization (501-c-3) that has been working since 1999 to promote freedom, democracy, dignity, justice, and good governance in the Arab and Muslim world.  There have been many encouraging developments in the region in the past year, however, there are many challenges ahead and we will need your continued involvement and support if we want to end the cycle of tyranny and violence and usher a new era of peaceful coexistence and tolerance between nations, and between governments and their people.

A.  New Publication:  CSID is proud to announce a new monthly publication, called Democracy Watch, in both Arabic and English.  The purpose of this publication is to monitor and report on political developments and reforms in all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  There are many positive developments, but there are also significant difficulties and setbacks that we believe you need to be aware of.  You can read Democracy Watch online, or you can subscribe to receive it monthly in print (subscriptions $20/year).  To subscribe to DEMOCRACY WATCH, please send an e-mail request to sein@islam-democracy.orgIf you have any comments or questions about Democracy Watch, please e-mail them to the Editor, Mr. Slaheddine Jourchi at:  sjourchi@yahoo.fr.  This is of course in addition to our flagship newsletter Muslim Democrat which is published quarterly (also in English and Arabic) and contains important and useful articles and discussions about Islam & democracy, and reports about CSID activities and conferences.  Both publications are mailed to CSID members FREE OF CHARGE.

B.  New Website:  CSID is also proud to announce its new website http://www.csidonline.org/  (in English) or  https://www.csidonline.org/arabic/ (in Arabic).  The new website will be updated on a much more frequent basis, and will contain weekly updates and reports about CSID activities and projects.  If you have been enjoying and benefiting from our bi-weekly e-mail bulletin, you will be happy to know that you can read all current and previous issues at:  http://www.csidonline.org/.  We are also working on a Persian-language website which we hope to announce soon, insha’Allah.  Please address any comments or suggestions about the new website to Abdulmajid Biuk at: abdul_biuk@yahoo.com.

C:  New Offices:  CSID will be opening TWO REGIONAL OFFICES very soon (one in Amman, Jordan and the other in Casablanca, Morocco).  Each office will be staffed by at least two people (an office director and a program officer), and these two staff members will help us establish and strengthen our network of democrats in the MENA region.  We are also looking for new office space in Washington DC, ideally 1,500 to 2,000 sq.ft. (4-5 offices) with shared reception area and meeting/conference space (for at least 50-60 people).  If you know of any such space that is available for rent or sublease (for a minimum of 2-3 years) please let us know as soon as possible.

D:  New Staff:  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:  masmoudi@islam-democracy.org

EMonthly Lecture Series:  Our Monthly Lecture Series was very successful last year.  We had over 20 events/lectures in our Washington DC office (average of two a month) and the room was almost always full (between 60-80 people each event).  We look forward to another year of interesting and stimulating discussions and debates about political developments and democratization in the Arab/Muslim world.  Our lecture this month will be held on the “Recent Elections and the Future of Religious Democracy in Iran”, by Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina, on Wednesday, August 31, 2005, 12:00 ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” 2:00 p.m.  I hope you can join us and please RSVP by Aug 29 to Layla Sein: sein@islam-democracy.org

F:  Democracy Education:  CSID has been working closely with Street Law Inc. to produce a new Arabic textbook for teaching and training citizens on democracy and its compatibility with Islam.  The textbook ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨Islam & Democracy:  Towards an Effective Citizenship‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ was written in Arabic by EIGHT AUTHORS from the region (two from each of Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and Jordan) and will be printed and ready by end of September.  The textbook will be used in 4 workshops to train 20 trainers per country, who will then train at least 400 people (in each country) by the end of the year.  More information on this exciting project will be posted on our website soon. 

G Membership Renewal & Donations:  CSID is a membership-based organization and your support -both moral and financial- is critical for its continued success.  Our research activities and outreach programs are vital to inform hundreds of policymakers, scholars, and democracy activists in the US and in the Muslim World.  We hope you will continue to support CSID financially by becoming a member or making a donation of $20- $2,000 (whatever you can afford).  As a member, you will not only receive all CSID publications (free of charge) and attend CSID events and conferences (at a significant discount) but you will also be able to vote and have a say in all CSID elections and affairs.  In a word, you become a vital and integral part of CSID.  To join CSID, please go to: http://www.csidonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=11&Itemid=32, or to Make a donation, go to:  http://www.csidonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=14&Itemid=61

We look forward to your continued and renewed support, and to seeing you again at one of our events or meetings in the near future.  If you have any questions or suggestions for CSID, please feel free to write to me at: masmoudi@islam-democracy.org or to call me at: 202-251-3036.

With warm greetings and salaam;

Dr. Radwan A. Masmoudi
President
Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID)
2121 K Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20037-1801
(202) 942-2181 Phone
(202) 251-3036 Cell
masmoudi@islam-democracy.org
http://www.csidonline.org/

MOVIE SCREENING:  Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam

The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC) proudly presents the Washington region’s Premiere of “Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam“.

The InterFaith Conference is very honored to show this “deeply moving” and “very informative” PBS documentary at the Avalon Theater.  It is “a major work whose time has come.”

http://www.theavalon.org/ This screening will be in the main auditorium.

General Admission tickets available at the Avalon Theater at $12.50. Please call for student tickets too.  Reserved Section seating $25.  Event tickets on sale now at the Avalon box office!

Reception with the producers, religious scholars in the film and special guest seating $75. (Half of each amount is a tax deductible gift to support the year round work of the IFC)

For tickets or more information, please call the InterFaith Conference at 202/234-6300 or email us at ifc@ifcmw.org.

PS. A Panel discussion will follow discussing the major ideas of the documentary, so please contribute to the enrichment of the experience and be there to share your thoughts with our distinguished guests.

For more information about this event, please contact us at info@theavalon.org.

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The Woodrow Wilson Center is honored to host a
DIRECTOR’S FORUM

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

6th Floor, Joseph H. and Claire Flom Auditorium with
His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan Bin Talal
 

Prince Hassan, who served as Jordan’s Crown Prince for more than three decades, is a prominent and passionate advocate of dialogue between the Muslim world and the West. He argues that such a dialogue is critical in helping to bridge what some see as the widening gap between Islam and some of the West’s values and assumptions.

Please RSVP with acceptances only to Maria-Stella Gatzoulis at 202-691-4188.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004-3027

Co-hosted by Bridges-Josour (www.bridges-josour.com)

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The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring

The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM) cordially invites you to attend its final presentation followed by a reception, Wednesday, Sept 28th at Ibn Khaldun Center premises ,17 St 12 Mokattam, Cairo 7:00pm.

The event will include an analytical review of the committee’s performance in monitoring the recent presidential election that took place September 7th, with view to improve the committee’s effectiveness in the upcoming national parliamentary elections in late November.

 We are confident that your participation will enrich the discussions and help to improve the committee‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s future performance.

Ayat M.Abul-Futtouh
Director
Ibn Khaldun Center
+2026670974
+2025081030
F+2026670973
M+20101416507

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Report: U.S. Image in Bad Shape
Hughes Set to Begin Public Diplomacy
By Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright — Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, September 24, 2005; Page A16
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/23/AR2005092301880.html

As Karen Hughes, longtime presidential adviser and new public diplomacy guru at the State Department, prepares to leave this weekend on a “listening tour” of the Middle East, a congressionally mandated advisory panel to the department warned that “America’s image and reputation abroad could hardly be worse.

The panel’s report, which has been seen by senior officials but not yet officially released, said a fact-finding mission to the Middle East last year found that “there is deep and abiding anger toward U.S. policies and actions.” The Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy cited polling that found that large majorities in Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia “view George W. Bush as a greater threat to the world order than Osama bin Laden.

The report warned that televised images of U.S. policy choices — such as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the invasion of Iraq — reverberate across the Arab media and will “long haunt the image of the United States.” The committee recommended a series of steps, including increased funding and staffing, to rebuild efforts to promote U.S. culture and ideas — an essential task that it said has been eroded through bureaucratic shuffling and indifference

In much of the world, the report said, the United States is viewed as “less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered.

The advisory committee was created by Congress in 2004 and charged with advising the secretary of state on how to advance the use of cultural diplomacy in U.S. foreign policy. Patricia de Stacy Harrison, at the time an assistant secretary of state, was appointed chairman. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell named F. William Smullen III, his former chief of staff, as a member. Congress selected seven other members for their expertise in cultural, educational and communications issues

In her maiden overseas trip since being confirmed as undersecretary of state, Hughes is to visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said improving the U.S. image abroad is one of her top priorities; her success in recruiting President Bush’s longtime confidante to spearhead the effort is seen by many in Washington as a coup

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday that Hughes is “going to be starting a conversation with the rest of the world.” He said that she will be “listening” on the trip, “and in listening, she will also be trying to explain our policies and laying the foundation for the coming years, in terms of our public diplomacy efforts.

But analysts said yesterday that Hughes will face real challenges. Not only are U.S. policies in the Arab world scorned, but the administration’s promotion of democracy while supporting autocratic governments is seen as hypocritical, and visa restrictions imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have caused anger and resentment

“Straight talking will work, but sweet talking won’t,” said James J. Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. “This is not about feigning sincerity; it’s about responding to concerns. We are in a hole too deep.

Radwan A. Masmoudi, president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, said that, on a recent trip to the region, he found that the level of anti-Americanism is “10 times what it was just a year ago.” He attributed the shift to the war in Iraq and the feeling that the United States is not serious about promoting democracy because it does not confront countries such as Egypt over its political prisoners

Rami G. Khouri of the Daily Star in Beirut wrote in a commentary last week that Hughes’s efforts have promise “but I fear if some early distortions, gaps and misguided operating principles are not quickly amended, she and her efforts could turn out to be another howling waste of time and money.

Edward P. Djerejian, who chaired a 2003 panel that recommended changes in public diplomacy efforts, said his committee determined that 80 percent of the perception of the United States overseas was determined by policy choices and feelings about U.S. values. The other 20 percent, he said, could be affected by public diplomacy efforts, a margin that he noted could be a “critical factor for the struggle for ideas.

Djerejian has been assisting Hughes in drafting a strategy for her job. The plan, he said, draws on recommendations in his committee’s report, including the creation of rapid-response teams to counter rumors

“It is clear the American brand has been badly damaged,” Smullen said. “I’m not suggesting we have to change our policy, but we do need to take an assessment of the attitudes toward us by people around the world.

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Promises To Keep In Egypt
By Saad Ibrahim
Saturday, September 24, 2005; Page A23

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/23/AR2005092301540.html

More and more Egyptians are speaking out for democracy in the wake of recent presidential elections — and for the legalization of the Muslim Brotherhood.

CAIRO — Weeks afterward, Egyptians are still getting fresh accounts of the irregularities and outright fraud that marred their first multi-candidate presidential election Sept. 7. With the barrier of fear disintegrating, more and more people are speaking out impatiently. President Hosni Mubarak has finally been downsized to human scale as critics line up to question his entire electoral record

Only three months earlier, his government reported that 57 percent of the electorate, or 17 million voters, turned out in a constitutional referendum, despite widespread boycotts. The presidential election was passionately contested by at least three major parties. Yet, by official count, only 23 percent, or 7 million, bothered to vote — a 10 million-person deficit. The fact is that this time, with 6,000 domestic monitors and more than 200 foreign reporters on the scene, the regime was cornered into reducing both its cheating and lying margins, though not totally getting rid of the old habits

The public debates that ensued have revealed some new and unexpected twists. One of these is a revised attitude toward the outside world. Another is a rethinking of the role of the much-maligned Muslim Brotherhood

Many of the opposition parties that once went along with the Mubarak regime in opposing international election monitoring are now loudly insisting on it for the forthcoming November parliamentary elections. This is a major development in the evolution of Egyptian political culture, long replete with xenophobia and conspiracy theories about the outside world. Even the most anti-American leftists are demanding to know where President Bush and the United States stand vis-أ -vis this sham presidential election. Will the West be similarly oblivious to the expected travesties in the parliamentary elections?

In its heart, the Egyptian opposition still doubts the sincerity of Bush’s exhortations on behalf of liberty and democracy. Some go so far as to accuse the United States of duplicity and outright support for the Mubarak campaign. This may have to do with the fact that Gamal Mubarak, the president’s son and campaign manager, shows a fascination with all things American — witness his heavy reliance on U.S.-style advertising gimmicks during the campaign. The fact that members of Mubarak’s inner circle were shuttling back and forth between Cairo and Washington during the weeks leading up to the election gave added credence to the allegation

Some are now holding not only Mubarak but also the United States accountable for fulfillment of his many campaign promises. These include finding work for 5 million unemployed Egyptians, most of whom are young college graduates. Another promise: restoration of the independence of the judiciary, a pressing demand for years. Mubarak pledged to sign the draft law for judicial reform that has been languishing on his desk. The same applies to abrogation of the Emergency Law that has been in effect since Mubarak’s ascendance to power in 1981. Yet another crucial issue he promised to address is replacing the parliamentary electoral system of winner-take-all with one of proportionate representation, ensuring a greater measure of legislative power-sharing

Combating corruption was a campaign issue that the major challenger, Ayman Nour, seized on. He dared Mubarak and other members of his family to reveal the size and source of their assets. They declined to do so during the campaign but promised to do so shortly afterward

One issue Mubarak is still adamant about, and hence made no campaign promises on, is his refusal to legalize the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamic movement. Believed to be the strongest opposition bloc, the Brotherhood has long enjoyed a de facto popular legitimacy. During the presidential campaign, nearly all the opposition parties courted it by pledging to work for legalization of the party. Increasingly, it looks as if all of Egypt’s political class except Mubarak’s party has come around to this position. Thus, instead of Mubarak’s isolating the Muslim Brotherhood, it has managed to isolate him. To consolidate its moral gains and prepare for upcoming parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood has joined the chorus calling for international election monitoring in November

This is a time of tremendous ferment in Egypt. It demands that the United States and the rest of the world stay vigilant and bear witness to Egyptian popular demands. If it is too much to expect outright support for the fledgling dissident movement, there should at least be an effort to hold Mubarak accountable for the promises he made

The writer is chair of the Ibn Khaldun Center and a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo.

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Jordan’s King Abdullah urges Muslims to reclaim religion from extremists (Middle East Times Editorial)

WASHINGTON — Jordan’s King Abdullah II drove home his message of religious tolerance in a speech in Washington this month, urging Islamic scholars and leaders to reclaim the religion from extremists.

“The ultimate goal is to take back our religion from the vocal, violent and ignorant extremists who have tried to hijack Islam over the last hundred years,” the king said in a speech at the Catholic University of America. “They do not speak for Islam any more than a Christian terrorist speaks for Christianity.”

The Jorda nian monarch, accompanied on his trip to the United States by his wife Queen Rania, noted his government initiative known as the “Amman Message” that was launched last year in a bid to encourage fellow Muslims to reject extremism and embrace tolerance and acceptance.

He said that the initiative had prompted scholars representing Islam’s various schools of thought to agree that religious edicts could not be handed down by people such as Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and his Iraq frontman Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, as both lacked the proper qualifications and religious knowledge.

“They [the scholars] agreed that no one can call another Muslim an apostate – as the extremists do to those who disagree with them,” the king told his audience of about 350 scholars, diplomats, religious figures and students.

He also urged leaders outside the Muslim community to contribute to his effort to foster dialogue between the West and moderate Islam.

“The road of moderation and respect for others is not one for Muslims alone,” he noted. “All humanity today needs to meet this challenge.”

He also alluded to the hurricane that devastated the US Gulf Coast, saying that it was a reminder that “we are all in God’s hands”.

Rabbi Jack Bemporad, of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, said that the king’s speech was a welcome ray of hope coming from the leader of an Islamic country.

“These are seeds that are absolutely essential,” he said.

Ahmed Iravani, a professor of Islamic law at Catholic University, stressed that the king’s message of tolerance had a chance of succeeding as it had received the backing of a number of respected religious scholars and theological centers around the world.

“If real scholars of Islam get involved in this than his message has a chance of succeeding,” Iravani said.

Abdullah made his speech shortly before heading to New York to attend the United Nations sum mit. He is due back in Washington after the summit to meet with Muslim and Jewish leaders.

The king on Monday met with Pope Benedict VXI at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, saying that he wanted to establish an honest dialogue between the Islamic world and the West.

 

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Despotism and Persecution of the Moderates: The Case of Issam al Erian

By Saad Eddine Ibrahim

Based on my direct experience in Mubarak’s detention centers, and my close and accurate follow-up of other tens of prisoners of opinion and conscience, I became convinced that Mubarak’s regime could not stand moderate, peaceful activists, who enjoy authenticity in the public opinion. Among the major examples of this in 2005 are Dr. Ayman Nour, founder and leader of the Ghadd Political Party, and Issam al-Erian, physician and a leading figure in the Egyptian Brotherhood (Ikhwan) Movement.

Ayman Nour’s case has attracted wide attention inside and outside Egypt. This was and still is something needed and desired. All evidence indicates that the case has been politically fabricated from A to Z. In this concern, it is almost a replica of the case of Ibn-Khaldoun’s Center. As in the latter, the Court of Cassation will eventually exonerate Ayman Nour, even though he has been condemned by the court of Adil Abdil-Salam Juma, which has previously condemned Saad-id-Din Ibrahim and Ibn-Khaldoun colleagues, but within three years.

We return to Dr. Erian’s case to answer two questions: 1. Why does Mubarak’s regime prosecute the moderates? 2. Why did the internal, as well as external, reactions differ in Erian’s case from that of Ibn-Khaldoun and the Ghadd Party?

With regard to targeting the moderates, Mubarak’s regime is based on a number of pillars, including the police-intelligence state, plundering, corruption, and various kinds of local scarecrow to scare the allies. One of these pillars is to inspire two things to Mubarak regime’s friends in the West (Europe and the US). First, Mubarak is the only one allegedly capable of maintaining stability and moderation in Egypt and the Arab World, and that should there be held free and fair election, the extremists would take over and turn Egypt into another Algeria, Taliban’s Afghanistan or Khomeini’s Iran. Thus, Mubarak’s regime has been keen to undermine any moderate alternative, religious-Islamic or civil-liberal. Second, Mubarak’s regime is the only one allegedly capable of sponsoring the peace process with Israel, and of mediation between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Consequently, Mubarak has done his best to undermine or defame any moderate alternative(s) in Egypt so that only the fundamentalists, extremists and the marginalized remain.  Mubarak’s regime has become constantly in need of the fundamentalists and the extremists so it may justify its existence. If they are not there, the police apparatus immediately make them up or inspire their existence, exaggerate their danger and their plots to take over power, undermine the society, and vandalize the national unity, among other ready-made accusations.

Mubarak’s regime has enough media control to turn pure lies and illusions to semi-facts. It also has a parallel system of ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨intelligence‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ (mukhabarat) each is described as “state security” to add seriousness to illusions in order to deceive the public opinion. For instance, there is the “Investigation Bureau of State Security”, which is assigned to do enquiries. The enquiries usually start with “It has come to our knowledge that ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ¬¨¬∂”, and the blank space is then filled with whatever the officer in charge may find of fake stories and illusionary or planted evidence. This apparatus also do the bursting, harassing and arresting the victims, especially late at night. The Egyptian political folklore calls them “dawn visitors”. The apparatus may sometimes constrain the victims for several days in special cells at the apparatus’ headquarters in Lazoghli, downtown Cairo, to be tortured and then sign whatever ‘confessions’, mostly fake, they want them to sign.

There is also the twin apparatus called “State Security Prosecutor Bureau”, which does the interrogation with the “suspects” supplied by the “Investigation Bureau of State Security”. Although the former consists of police officers and the latter of civilian, semi-judicial DA‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s, both apparatus work in incomparable harmony. In fact, both are two faces of one coin, in spite of the attempts to show them as independent from one another. The “State Security Prosecutor Bureau” tightens the grip around the suspect until the latter admits to the accusations leveled against him by the “Investigation Bureau of State Security”. “State Security Prosecutor Bureau” also orders the ‘accused’ “to be put in jail for further investigation”. This Bureau also renews imprisonment until the one who runs both apparatus orders a release or sending the case to court, that is, the “State Security Court”.

The last move in the same old symphony repeatedly played in every political case is to remit it to this mentioned Court, the name of which became so notorious and embarrassing to the regime all over the world that it was recently abolished. However, the Court’s districts and judges remained the same, including the district that tried and condemned the writer of this article to 7 years in prison, until the Court of Cassation, which also bitterly criticized the former Court and the entire regime, canceled the sentence. Nevertheless, Ayman Nour’s case was remitted to trial before the same district with same chair judge and his two colleagues.

Mubarak’s regime constantly emphasizes that all cases of opinion and conscience are not “political cases”, but “purely criminal ones”. This claim was repeated in the cases of Ibn-Khaldoun, Ayman Nour and Issam al-Erian. In fact, these cases are all “vengeful”, political cases, ordered, moved and run by the highest sovereign institution in the country, and each has its own circumstances and justifications in the mentality of this institution. So, why Issam al-Irian in particular?

I have known Essam al-Irian for the last quarter of a century, and my return from my Ph.D. program abroad (1975) coincided with the years of his activity at the school of medicine. Among my academic interest in Islamic movement, it was natural for me to meet him. He was one of its emerging symbols and a member of one of its active youth branch, that is, the Ikhwan al-Muslimin (the Muslim Brotherhood). The latter group had announced giving up violence in an unpublicized deal with the late President Sadat in 1972. Yet, only a few believed this announcement at the time, and probably till present. However, as an academician, I have always been ready to listen to the Ikhwan’s point of view, while at the same time observing their actual behavior in Egyptian public life. I did the same with other branches of the Islamic movement, which split from the Ikhwan, like the Jihad, the Jamaa al-Islamiyya and the Takfir wa-l-Hijra. In all these academic efforts, Irian was a first-grade peer and debater. Although I was about 15 years older and ideologically different, a mutual respect and a warm, humane friendship has developed between us. We both became colleagues in trade union activity: me as chair of Sociologists, and him as secretary of Medical Trade Union. The headquarters of both unions were accidentally located in the same street (Qasr il-Aini) at that time (1986-96). I accepted his invitations and talked several times at the Medical Trade Union, and he accepted mine and talked at the Sociological Trade Union, the American University in Cairo, and the Ibn-Khaldoun Center for Developmental Studies. We were also co-inmates in Mubarak’s prisons at the beginning of my detention (2000-02) and around the end of his term in jail (2001). We often chatted about the witticisms, pains and anecdotes in prison after we had been released.

During the last couple of years, Issam al-Erian and I met at two important conferences. The First was in April 2001, i.e., one month after the Cassation Court had exonerated me and 27 other Ibn-Khaldoun colleagues. That conference was a continuation of my dialogue in prison with Islamist groups. At that time, these groups were astonished at the international concern with the Ibn-Khaldoun case, while ignoring theirs. The logic I pursued in my reaction to their surprise was that they do not talk a language the world could understand, and that their image in the world was one of hatred, fanaticism and violence. When they argued to convince me otherwise, my answer was that what matters was to convince the world. When they became ready for this, I organized a one-day dialogue with a number of Western diplomats in Cairo, in which Erian was a brilliant star who captivated the Westerners, despite their disagreement with him over a number of issues.

The last occasion was in December 2004 in Jordan, at a conference organized by the Center for the Studies of Islam and Democracy, in which a number of Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim, participated. Following the American method in the technology of conferences and peaceful settlement of conflicts, we were both asked to role-play and to defend positions that were not necessarily ours. Erian had to give convincing arguments for secular democracy and against the implementation of Sharia or establishing a theocracy. The surprise was that he did so brilliantly.

All along 25 years, I never heard Erian call for violence against, or hatred of, non-Muslims. Erian was a brilliant student of medicine as well as a brilliant trade union activist. He ran for parliament membership and his performance at the People’s Assembly was excellent, as testified by his own colleagues from other political parties, including the ruling National Party. Probably because of his moderate attitude and his outstanding leadership qualities, Mubarak’s regime put Issam al-Erian behind bars. So, let all the free people in Egypt and the world unite with him.

Hands off Issam al-Erian, Mubarak!

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The Koran and the ballot box

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-op-emailaltercation18sep18,1,3671508.story

WHAT’S the best way to encourage democratization in Islamic states? Current put the question to a journalist living a secular life in a Muslim land, and a Muslim living in the United States. Ahmed Benchemsi, a Moroccan journalist, and Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, debated by e-mail.

Benchemsi: Islamic law and secularization are incompatible. You have to choose one ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” and, for me, secularism is it. Here’s one example why: Under Islamic law, a sister inherits half the share her brother does. That was probably fair when women were dependant upon men. By today’s standards, however, applying this law, which happens every day in Islamic countries, is unjust. Islamic inheritance prescriptions should be interpreted for modern times. There can only be one version of the law, and secularist principles are the best guide because they set a just, universal framework of equal chances. After that, everyone can function in accordance with their beliefs.

Al-Marayati: The concept of Islamic democracy is predicated upon basic principles of justice and equality. Your example of inheritance is an important one. You state there are more modern ways to interpret Islamic laws, and that these should apply to inheritance laws. Contrary to what many believe, Islamic laws can be reinterpreted and reformed to meet the core requirement of justice in changing times. That is what millions of Muslim activists are calling for. You cannot impose either Islam or democracy on any people, for coercion is against both Islam and democracy.

Pandey: How has your life affected your views?

Benchemsi: Defining myself as a secularist in my country of Morocco, where more than 99% of the people identify themselves as Muslims, is a challenge. Which I think is good. Moroccans are supposedly born Muslims. No one ever asked me if I was OK with that. I do believe in God, but I don’t believe in religions, which, though respectable, are, to me, human inventions. Above all, I believe everyone should have the right to choose freely. Because the overwhelming majority of Moroccans never had a chance, either at home or at school, to think about the secularist option, including it in the public debate is enriching. That benefits, in the long run, the continuing democratization of my country.

Al-Marayati: As the son of immigrants, I had the fortune of learning about Islam without the cultural baggage and rigid teaching that my counterparts elsewhere put up with. Here in the U.S., I was free to question my faith and, as a result, became a stronger Muslim. My reading of the Koran enhanced my critical thinking. It did not call upon me to blindly obey unquestioned authority. The Koran states: “Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith.” Muslims in the U.S. can serve as living examples of the compatibility of Islam and democracy, faith and reason.

Benchemsi: Sighing over the freedom to be religious is an easy posture when you live in a country that grants you this freedom. This is not my case, and I am deeply sorry for that. That’s why I daily fight, as a journalist and columnist, for the right of my people to understand what democracy is about ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” freedom of choice and, even more, freedom of thinking. Yes, indeed, what is unjust is not Islamic. But who states what is just and what is not? In countries like mine, everyone who has a beard (or a sword) does. Who wins? The strongest. We’re quite far from justice.

Al-Marayati: You’re arguing against democracy because you do not trust your people. Because you fear majority rule, you would accept minority-imposed rule. Strong democracies exist because of the people, not because of their rulers. The American people ensure that their democracy does not turn into a dictatorship. If Muslims believe that democracy is not merely a Western invention but also an Islamic duty, that would help prevent any slippage into totalitarianism in the name of democracy. I believe in Islamic democracy because of my commitment to American values, that self-governance and freedom of _expression ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” the essence of democracy ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” are fundamental to Islam. Progress along the democratic front will take place when tyranny, whether secularist or religious, is defeated.

Benchemsi: You believe in Islamic democracy because of your commitment to American values. Good for you. But just to remind you: America is seen as “The Great Satan” by the vast majority of what you call the “Muslim world.” And I’m talking about the people, not the rulers. Democracy starts with understanding. You reduce it to a mechanism ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” voting ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” then accepting the numbers. For me, it’s a philosophy, a set of values ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” among them, the separation of church and state ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” that many Muslims reject because they say it is “Western.” The essence of democracy is fundamental to Islam, you say. Those who believe in political Islam, and who almost took power in Algeria and Egypt, harassed and/or killed a tremendous number of reformists who would have agreed with you and me. In Morocco, I receive threats whenever I write about Islam. Nothing physical. But they count. Yes, we are struggling for the same goal from different poles. But yours is theory; mine is everyday life.

Al-Marayati: Even though we are both Western-educated, your understanding of secularism is exclusive of faith, while mine is inclusive. The radicals you complain about fall under the category of mutual exclusivity, so you have more in common with them than I do. In my discussions with mainstream Muslims, here and abroad, they love American values once they understand the meaning and essence of democracy. What they oppose is what many in America do ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ” a unilateralist foreign policy and extreme materialism. What makes me a strong citizen is my faith, and what enriches my faith is the freedom in which religion can flourish. Either one’s allegiance is to a superficial understanding of democracy, or it is to the betterment of all people. I choose, along with the mainstream Muslim American community, to do what is most likely to bring Muslims in America and abroad out of the intellectual and emotional morass they live in.

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Democracy Promotion: The Case for Transatlantic Partnership                      

By Joshua Muravchik

Following the elections in January 2005 in Palestine and Iraq and this spring‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s Cedar revolution   forcing Syria‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s military withdrawal from Lebanon, the entire Middle East‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ”which slept through the first thirty years of democracy‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨third wave‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ”is bubbling with political ferment.  To some degree this has been stoked by American actions: the overthrow of Saddam, the insistence on the reform of the Palestinian authority, and President Bush‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s pro-democracy rhetoric.  And yet, ironically, although these policies have begun to achieve their intended results, they have also driven U.S. popularity in the region to a nadir.  There is great anger over the U.S. Invasion of Iraq and America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s support for Israel.  And Bush‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s rhetoric is often written off in light Washington‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s history of supporting the regional status quo.  America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s unpopularity is exploited by the incumbent dictators who fan the flames of anti-Americanism to deflect popular discontent and to shield themselves from U.S. pressure.

The bogeyman of ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨outside interference‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ is familiar to Americans who remember how southern racists used to denounce civil rights workers as ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨outside agitators.‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌  Globally, it has been invoked by Brezhnev and Pinochet and Milosevic and scores of other dictators struggling to fend off domestic pressures and foreign demands for observance of international obligations.  Although the tactic is time-worn, it plays to bitter memories in the Arab world of colonial occupation and to a historical legacy of competition between the world of Islam and Christendom.

This has not prevented Washington from continuing to press the region‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s regimes for reform and liberalization.  But that is only half of what is needed.  The work of outsiders in promoting democracy and human rights is always two-pronged.  One prong is to pressure the regimes.  The other prong, often more important, is to lend support, moral and material, to the indigenous democrats, human rights groups, and other elements of civil society.

It is this second task that is effectively complicated by the regimes‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢 campaigns against ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨outside interference‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ and by America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s current state of unpopularity.  Washington‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s ability to lend support to progressive forces in the region is compromised by the threat that by receiving American aid or even merely moral support, they will be branded ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨US agents.‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌  This is a charge that bites because with more than a hundred thousand troops in Iraq, the specter of US intervention in the region seems very palpable.

Thus, for example, the Egyptian government, although it has long been America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s closest ally in the Arab world, stokes anti-Americanism as a means of resisting US pressure.  Washington leaned on Cairo to release Ayman Nour, the head of the new al-Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, from jail.  But at the same time the Egyptian government used this pressure to portray Nour as America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s candidate in the hope of diminishing his appeal in the coming presidential race.  Similarly, when the US embassy announced donations totaling $1 million divided among six civil society organizations, the government orchestrated a fierce campaign against the six, featuring crude newspaper cartoons showing the groups as puppets dangled by Uncle Sam. Egyptians say that these attacks have succeeded in damaging the recipients, notwithstanding the absurd hypocrisy of such attacks coming from a regime that pockets $2 billion annually in US aid.

In the early years of the Cold War, Washington used subterfuge to funnel aid to progressive civil society groups while avoiding their being tainted by accusations of being American agents.  Funds were channeled through dummy philanthropies set up by the CIA.   But these covert methods were exposed in the 1970s, and the genie cannot be put back in the bottle.  Aid to foreign democrats must be out in the open.  How then can America provide support to liberals and civil society in the Middle East at this moment when it holds the potential to be so effective in tipping the region toward democracy?

The answer is that America cannot do this effectively alone.  It must do it in partnership with the other democracies.  The way to foil the regimes that raise the specter of outside interference is to coordinate democracy aid among a consortium of democracies.  It will be far harder for regimes to stigmatize domestic groups for taking aid from a consortium of democracies than for taking aid from America or even from Britain or France, which are former colonizers of the region.  If regimes denounce local groups for accepting aid from such a consortium they run the risk that the denunciations will backfire because the very nature of the consortium will underline the democratic principles at stake.  It will make less plausible any claim that this is a matter of neo-colonialism.

If America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s interest in such cooperation is apparent, what is the European interest?  First, the principles at stake are no less dear to Europe than to America.  Although their diplomatic styles are different, Europeans cherish democracy and human rights no less than Americans.  Although most Europeans disagreed strongly with the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq, they have welcomed recent progress in the region.  And although European governments are usually more reluctant than is Washington to openly confront Third World dictators, the practice of giving aid to civil society and to democratic groups is something that Europeans have long practiced, for example in the work of the German party stiftungen.

Second, this issue is one that cries out for European leadership.  One of the things that has long irked Europeans in the Atlantic partnership is that America has usually insisted on leading in a way that made its partners feel that they had too little voice in shaping the policy.  Because of America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s poor image in the Arab world, the project of supporting the region‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s democrats is one on which Europeans can lead and America follow.  Supporting democrats is not an exact science, and any differences about how to do it or which groups to support are likely to be of little importance.  It will be valuable to have a non-American face on this activity.  Washington can afford to take a back seat.

Perhaps the Europeans can do this themselves.  Why should they carry the luggage of America‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s bad image?  The answer is first that America brings a lot of resources to the table.  But beyond that, such a consortium would lack credibility if the Americans were missing.  As unpopular as America is in the region now, still there is an ambivalence toward the U.S.  It is seen as an important force in the region.  It is respected, to some extent even feared.  For forces in the region to have American support carries some positive as well as negative implications.  The goal of Western democrats should be to leverage the positive while diminishing the negative.

Such cooperation holds great potential for helping to heal the rifts that have opened in the Atlantic alliance over the war in Iraq and other issues.  Policy toward the Middle East has been a prime source of friction within the alliance.  Cooperation for democratization could be a basis of renewed comity.  The Franco-American partnership in restoring Lebanon‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s independence could be just a first step.  What better issue could there be for reminding both Americans and Europeans of the profound principles we hold in common and also of the power of those principles to be deployed against dangers‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ”once Communism, today terrorism and Islamic fanaticism–that menace us all.

Ideally, a democratic consortium to support democratization of the Middle East should reach beyond the Atlantic to include Japan and other democracies.  In the long run such activity might be the natural calling of the Community of Democracies.  But to this point, the Community has not been sufficiently organized, and events in the Middle East cannot wait for it.  In its current form, the Community it is not a wieldy instrument.  For now, a consortium to aid Middle Eastern democrats should begin as an Atlantic project but should solicit participation by other key democratic states.

Such a consortium can help Middle Eastern people achieve their aspirations for political freedom.  It can thereby diminish the appeal of violent fanatics in that region.  And it can refresh the alliance that has seen the great democracies through so many dark moments.  The need for it is urgent, the potential benefits immense.

Presented at the Transatlantic Democracy Network Conference: Wednesday, May 25, 2005; Thursday May 26, 2005 8:30-2:30 p.m. Warande Club, rue Zinnerstraat 1, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.  A joint initiative of Freedom House, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

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Taking Back Islam
By David Ignatius

Rarely has a big idea gotten more lip service and less real substance than the argument that there is a war of ideas underway for the soul of the Muslim world. Do a Google search on war of ideas and Muslim, and you get more than 11 million hits.  Yet, four years after Sept. 11, 2001, the real battle is only now beginning.

The Bush administration’s response has been to throw former White House spinmeister Karen Hughes into the fray. The implication is that Muslims will stop hating America if we can just improve our “public diplomacy” through Hughes’s new office at the State Department. Forgive me, but that idea strikes me as dangerously naive. This is not a propaganda problem, nor is it one that the United States can solve.

The war within Islam takes place every day in mosques, study groups and televised sermons. And although it’s about ideas, it has deadly consequences, with hundreds dying from suicide car bombings this week in  Iraq alone. It’s hard for a non-Muslim such as me to fully understand this struggle, but after years of reporting on the Middle East, reading and talking to Muslim friends, I’m beginning to see some connections.

Traditional Islam is under assault from a puritanical fringe group known as  the Salafists. The name is drawn from an Arabic word that refers to the seventh-century ancestors who walked with the Prophet Muhammad. For a Christian analogy to the Salafist extremists, think of the fanatical monk Savonarola, who in the 15th century burned the books of Florence in his rage  at the corruption of the Medicis. The difference is that the Salafists have access to the Internet and car bombs — and perhaps far more dangerous weapons.

 An important new book by Quintan Wiktorowicz, titled “Radical Islam Rising,” makes clear that the Salafists operate like a cult. They draw in vulnerable young people, fill them with ideas that give their lives a fiery new meaning, and send them into battle against the unbelievers.  Combating this seductive Salafist preaching requires the same kind of intense “deprogramming” used to wean away converts from other modern cults.

Wiktorowicz researched his book by embedding himself with al-Muhajiroun, an extremist Salafist group based in London. He found that the group preyed on disoriented young Muslims — not poor or oppressed themselves but confused and looking for meaning. Recruitment often involved a personal crisis that provided the Muslim cultists with a “cognitive opening.”

“To many young Muslims, their parents’ version of Islam seems archaic, backward and ill-informed,” Wiktorowicz explains. Into this spiritual void march the Salafists. They provide a structured life, through a mandatory study session every week in the halaqah , or prayer circle, and a new set of  life rules. Among the prohibited activities Wiktorowicz discovered in his research were “playing games,” “watching TV,”  “sleeping a lot and chilling out,” and “hanging out with friends.”

Frankly, Hughes and her public diplomats aren’t going to be much help in deprogramming a young Salafist. Governments can contain the violent cults by making it riskier to join — so that the confused young Muslim must weigh the danger of deportation or even arrest before joining an extremist group.  But the real battle of ideas requires theological ammunition, and that’s where there are some interesting new developments.

Traditional Islam is finally starting to fight back against the Salafists and their self-taught, literalist interpretations of the Koran. One of the leaders in this effort is Jordan’s King Abdullah, heir to a Hashemite throne that traces its lineage back to Muhammad. He convened an Islamic conference in Amman in July that concluded with a communique on “True Islam and Its Role in Modern Society.” It reemphasized the traditional faith — the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence, the orthodox school of Shiite jurisprudence, the canon set forth over centuries of fatwas and other orthodox interpretations of what Islam means.

Rather than running scared, as mainstream clerics sometimes do when facing the Salafist onslaught, the Amman declaration was proud and emphatic. It drew together fatwas from the leading clerics in Islam, including the sheik of Al-Azhar in Cairo and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Najaf. Another backer was Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, who has a weekly show on al-Jazeera and is probably the best-known television preacher in the Arab world.

These Islamic leaders sense that their religion is being kidnapped by Salafist radicals with a grab-bag theology, and they are finally beginning to push back. It’s a war of ideas they should win, if they can make traditional Islam a vibrant, living faith. Young Muslims don’t want to go back to the seventh century; they want to live with dignity in the 21st. 

davidignatius@washpost.com

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Jihad’s Fresh Face
By WALEED ZIAD
Washington

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/16/opinion/16ziad.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=print

OF the many questions surrounding Egypt’s presidential elections last week – Were opposition candidates unfairly removed from the ballot? Did the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak cheat at the polls? – a more general query has gone largely unmentioned: Did this election, or the other recent democratic experiments in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, really further American aims in the Muslim world?

The answer is troubling. The post- 9/11 prevailing wisdom has held that military force and exporting democracy are the West’s twin weapons against terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is the product of a “medieval” mindset, we are told, and if we can deliver elections to the Arab world, our enemies will cower before the spirit of the Enlightenment.

Yet the establishment of the first popularly elected governments in Iraqi and Afghan history has been followed by more suicide bombings and unabated violence. And nobody expects real change, in terms of political freedoms or human rights, any time soon in Saudi Arabia or Egypt. What are we missing?

While there is no doubt that elections are a worthy goal, we will not be able to change the Muslim world or dislodge the militancy until we gain a better understanding of the roots of the problem. While these conflicts are often painted as millennium-old, they are essentially modern phenomena, bred of postcolonial politics, social upheavals and territorial struggles.

And as we look at the causes of anti-Western jihadism, we tend to overlook one major contributing factor: the absence not just of democracy but also of grass-roots representative institutions like a free press and independent political, cultural and social-welfare institutions.

Today’s jihadists – I call them “neo-fundamentalists,” because they are a world apart from earlier fundamentalists – are not throwbacks to the crusades, nor are they, as President Bush unfortunately put it, just “a group of folks.” They are a singular and recent byproduct of decades of oppressive rule.

Yes, the Muslim world had an unfortunate introduction to post-Enlightenment ideals, which came in the context of invasion, colonialism and exploitation. But the Arab philosophical and political movement that came out of that experience was not inherently anti-Western. In fact, in traditional Islamic thought the concept of violent resistance against an unjust ruler was virtually unheard of; for classical jurists, tyranny was preferable to the anarchy that accompanies revolt.

The first wave of modern Islamic fundamentalists, which crested primarily in Egypt in the late 19th century and included such figures as the Iranian-born reformer Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and his Egyptian disciple, Muhammad Abduh, opposed colonialism but saw no incompatibility between Islamic and Western philosophy, law or scientific method. These men called for political reform and the revival of free inquiry.

The big change did not occur until the middle of the 20th century. In states like Egypt, Iraq and Syria, colonial governments were replaced by military, Arab-nationalist, royalist or Soviet-sponsored socialist regimes. All deteriorated quickly into dictatorships, embracing the institutions of colonial subjugation.

A host of political parties and civic institutions were founded to challenge the autocrats; many combined Enlightenment concepts like public participation with Islamic ideals of popular consent and justice. Even Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (founded in 1928) was not a militant revolutionary group; instead it promoted social-welfare programs, democracy and land reform on the Western model. When the mass movements became influential, however, they were answered not by reform but by persecution, ranging from the violent crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1950’s to the massacre of more than 10,000 dissidents by the dictator Hafez al-Assad in Hama, Syria, in 1982.

The story of Sayyid Qutb, the father of neo-fundamentalism, exemplifies what happened next. Qutb was an Egyptian teacher trained in the Western system. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it was not his trip to America in 1948 that radicalized him. While he was shocked by some aspects of American culture, like women dancing in public, he returned to write about the importance of emulating the educational, economic and scientific achievements of the West.

BUT in the 1950’s, he was jailed and tortured for speaking out against Gamal Abdel Nasser’s autocracy, while scores of dissidents were executed. Only then did he decide that violence could be used against an unjust government. He spoke as a Muslim, but his rhetoric was grounded in Western-nationalist and leftist revolutionary principles. His call had great resonance, and thus was neo-fundamentalism born.

As persecution continued across the Arab world, the neo-fundamentalist rhetoric became more Manichean and xenophobic. With mainstream opponents silenced, ultraradicals became the loudest voices of dissent. In Egypt, for example, those who emerged from prison in the 1970’s formed militant organizations, including Al Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is now chief lieutenant for Osama bin Laden. These men were not thinkers or theologians; rather, many were disillusioned Westernized professionals, former leftists and nationalists.

This new wave of fundamentalism, unlike all the others before it in the Islamic tradition, is inherently anti-intellectual and reactive; it is more reminiscent of the anarchical movements of 19th-century Russia. This “Islamism” is nihilistic, expressing a lack of faith in all political systems, in history, and in all past social developments. The jihadists justify their actions by claiming that they are returning to “pure” Islamic sources to establish a “government of God.” Of course, the paradox here is that the Koran does not lay down a mode of governance. What perhaps we in the United States do not understand is that in rejecting the status quo, these groups demonize not just the West, but mainstream Islamic culture and philosophy as well; they pose perhaps the greatest existential threat to 1,400 years of Islamic tradition.

So how does this history help us reverse the trend? It requires that we look at the jihadists not as an ancient foe, but as yet another contemporary terrorist group. Recent history – in northern India, Sri Lanka, Kurdish Turkey – has taught us that grassroots democracy and allowing the aggrieved group a public voice can be effective weapons against terrorism. A good strategy would be to support groups across the Muslim world, both secular and religious, that provide social services where the government falls short; they range from women’s rights organizations like the Union for Feminine Action in Morocco to trade groups like the Lebanese Businessmen Association.

We must foster these organizations – along with a free press and educational and cultural institutions. At the same time, our corporations should guide local entrepreneurs to promote a free market, the backbone of democracy. If anything is going to come of the neoconservative hope of making Iraq into a beacon of our values, it will be along these lines.

It is vital, however, that we not be put off from helping organizations tied to Islam – faith-based parties calling for peaceful democratic reforms are emerging across the Muslim world as the main political opposition. They are the necessary counterweights to central governments, and without them, autocratic rule, and the neo-fundamentalism that it breeds, will remain the norm.

Waleed Ziad is an economic consultant and a principal in the Truman National Security Project.
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Mubarak Wins Easily, but Vote Fails to Engage Egypt
By Daniel Williams —  Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 10, 2005; Page A18 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/09/AR2005090901898.html

CAIRO, Sept. 9 — In the end, Egypt’s first multiple-choice presidential vote produced a result that resembled the one-candidate elections of the past. President Hosni Mubarak, the cautious former air force pilot who has ruled for 24 years, won another six-year term with about 88.6 percent of the vote, according to official figures released Friday night

The raucous three-week campaign leading up to Wednesday’s election also made little dent in the traditional apathy of the Egyptian public. A 23 percent turnout fell far below government predictions made on election day — all the more striking given the major effort made by Mubarak’s National Democratic Party to get out the vote

Second place went to Ayman Nour, the maverick free-market-oriented lawyer whose Tomorrow Party was legalized only a year ago. He won 540,405 votes, or about 7.3 percent. The showing, however weak, makes him the only current alternative to Mubarak on the opposition scene. The third-place finisher, Noman Gomaa, 71, the leader of the venerable Wafd Party, captured 208,891 votes — 2.8 percent — and even his followers called his performance a major failure. Seven other candidates, along with a small number of ruined ballots, accounted for about 2 percent of the total

Mubarak’s backers insist he will be able to claim a mandate because of his willingness to base his rule on the will of voters. But his total of 6.5 million ballots represents only about 20 percent of Egypt’s eligible electorate, leaving a vast silent majority of nonvoters. “After 50 years without democracy, a three-week campaign is not enough to persuade Egyptians to come out and vote, much less come out and vote for a change from a known face,” said Maye Kassem, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo

The result ends a tumultuous phase in Egypt’s politics, one characterized by maneuvering and unprecedented outspokenness. For a year, in the face of repeated crackdowns, opposition activists organized demonstrations to demand Mubarak’s ouster. Judges futilely resisted the government’s determination to handpick observers at the polling stations. Workers began to strike for better pay and safety on the job. Human rights groups pressed loudly for release of political prisoners. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic-based grass-roots organization that is banned from politics, joined in calling for democratization

The Bush administration saw Egypt as ripe for reform as part of President Bush’s campaign to democratize the Middle East. Though Mubarak has resisted Washington’s calls to shelve emergency laws on the books for a quarter of a century, U.S. officials in Washington have endorsed his go-slow approach to altering Egypt’s political system

Despite complaining of fraud in the election, leading independent human rights groups gave the president the benefit of the doubt. “There was never doubt that Mubarak would win, and abuses we saw would not have changed the outcome much,” said Gasser Abdel Razek, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. Ghada Shahbender, who heads a monitoring group called We Are Watching, said the vote was “by and large credible.

Officials with Nour’s campaign said the results were rigged to sink a future presidential run by their candidate. “This is a black comedy,” said Nour’s wife and adviser, Gamila Ismael. “Of course, they want to dwarf Ayman with an eye on the next presidential vote — whether in six years or next year, if Mubarak dies or resigns. That’s their game.

The Wafd Party vice president, Munir Abdel-Nour, said the turnout underscored the “lack of conviction of Egyptian voters about the process.” He attributed Wafd’s poor showing to “years of stagnation.

Friday night, Mamdouh Marei, the government’s handpicked head of the constitutional court who also directed the Presidential Election Commission, announced the election results in a hotel room draped with the red, white and black colors of the Egyptian flag. Speaking in classical Arabic, he intoned: “The people of this country have chosen by their will, through a direct election, a president.” Applause burst out from ruling party supporters in the hall when he read Mubarak’s vote. There was no applause for the turnout

Marei, who barred monitors from the polls and insisted the vote count be held behind closed doors, attributed any electoral abuses to “enthusiasm.

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Invasion of the Isolationists

By Francis Fukuyama
The New York Times Syndicate 9/7/2005 | 4:53 pm
http://www.moroccotimes.com/paper/article.asp?idr=22&id=9507

Washington — As we mark four years since Sept. 11, 2001, one way to organize a review of what has happened in American foreign policy since that terrible day is with a question: To what extent has that policy flowed from the wellspring of American politics and culture, and to what extent has it flowed from the particularities of this president and this administration?

It is tempting to see continuity with the American character and foreign policy tradition in the Bush administration’s response to 9/11, and many have done so. Americans have tended toward the forcefully unilateral when we have felt ourselves under duress; and we have spoken in highly idealistic cadences in such times, as well. Nevertheless, neither American political culture nor any underlying domestic pressures or constraints have determined the key decisions in American foreign policy since Sept. 11.

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Americans would have allowed President Bush to lead them in any of several directions, and the nation was prepared to accept substantial risks and sacrifices.

The Bush administration asked for no sacrifices from the average American, but after the quick fall of the Taliban it rolled the dice in a big way by moving to solve a longstanding problem only tangentially related to the threat from al-Qaida — Iraq.

In the process, it squandered the overwhelming public mandate it had received after Sept. 11. At the same time, it alienated most of its close allies, many of whom have since engaged in “soft balancing” against American influence, and stirred up anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

The Bush administration could instead have chosen to create a true alliance of democracies to fight the illiberal currents coming out of the Middle East. It could also have tightened economic sanctions and secured the return of arms inspectors to Iraq without going to war. It could have made a go at a new international regime to battle proliferation.

All of these paths would have been in keeping with American foreign policy traditions. But Bush and his administration freely chose to do otherwise.

The administration’s policy choices have not been restrained by domestic political concerns any more than by American foreign policy culture.

Much has been made of the emergence of “red state” America, which supposedly constitutes the political base for Bush’s unilateralist foreign policy, and of the increased number of conservative Christians who supposedly shape the president’s international agenda. But the extent and significance of these phenomena have been much exaggerated.

So much attention has been paid to these false determinants of administration policy that a different political dynamic has been underappreciated. Within the Republican Party, the Bush administration got support for the Iraq war from the neoconservatives (who lack a political base of their own but who provide considerable intellectual firepower) and from what Walter Russell Mead calls “Jacksonian America” — American nationalists whose instincts lead them toward a pugnacious isolationism.

Happenstance then magnified this unlikely alliance. Failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the inability to prove relevant connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida left the president, by the time of his second inaugural address, justifying the war exclusively in neoconservative terms: that is, as part of an idealistic policy of political transformation of the broader Middle East.

The president’s Jacksonian base, which provides the bulk of the troops serving and dying in Iraq, has no natural affinity for such a policy but would not abandon the commander in chief in the middle of a war, particularly if there is clear hope of success.

This war coalition is fragile, however, and vulnerable to mishap. If Jacksonians begin to perceive the war as unwinnable or a failure, there will be little future support for an expansive foreign policy that focuses on promoting democracy. That in turn could drive the 2008 Republican presidential primaries in ways likely to affect the future of American foreign policy as a whole.

Are we failing in Iraq? That’s still unclear. The United States can control the situation militarily as long as it chooses to remain there in force, but Americans’ willingness to maintain the personnel levels necessary to stay the course is limited.

The all-volunteer Army was never intended to fight a prolonged insurgency, and both the Army and Marine Corps face manpower and morale problems. While public support for staying in Iraq remains stable, powerful operational reasons are likely to drive the administration to lower force levels within the next year. 

With the failure to secure Sunni support for the constitution and splits within the Shiite community, it seems increasingly unlikely that a strong and cohesive Iraqi government will be in place anytime soon. Indeed, the problem now will be to prevent Iraq’s constituent groups from looking to their own militias rather than to the government for protection.

If the United States withdraws prematurely, Iraq will slide into greater chaos. That would set off a chain of unfortunate events that will further damage American credibility around the world and ensure that the United States remains preoccupied with the Middle East to the detriment of other important regions — Asia, for example — for years to come.

We do not know what outcome we will face in Iraq. We do know that four years after 9/11, the whole foreign policy of the United States seems destined to rise or fall on the outcome of a war only marginally related to the source of what befell America on that day. There was nothing inevitable about this. There is everything to be regretted about it.

(Francis Fukuyama, a professor of international political economy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is editorial board chairman of a new magazine, The American Interest.)

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How Freedom is Won: From Civic Resistance to Durable Democracy

This week‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s Worth Reading is ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨How Freedom is Won: From Civic Resistance to Durable Democracy‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ by Adrian Karatnycky and Peter Ackerman, a Freedom House research study of the democratic transitions that occurred in some sixty-seven countries during the past three decades.

The study examined ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨a large array of long-term data about political openings, transitions from authoritarianism, political rights, and civil liberties in order to better understand how key characteristics of the period prior to a transition correlate with the eventual outcome for freedom and democratic practice.‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌

Among the study‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s principal findings were that ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨nonviolent civic forces are a major source of pressure for decisive change in most transitions‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ and that ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨the presence of strong and cohesive nonviolent civic coalitions is the most important of the factors examined in contributing to freedom.‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ By contrast, top-down transitions (that is, those launched and led by elites) were much less likely to usher in permanent democratic change.

In light of these findings, the authors suggest the need for ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨paradigm shift‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ in how organizations that promote democracy allocate their resources. According to Karatnycky and Ackerman, considerably more financial support should be dedicated to building coalitions of rival civic groups and political parties, not least because such groups must learn ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨the tolerant give-and-take that is a crucial component of democracy.‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌

In addition, democracy advocates should support independent media and help opposition groups develop strategies for nonviolent resistance. Governments that advocate democratic transitions should use diplomacy and sanctions to discourage authoritarian governments from using violence against the emerging democratic opposition.

The complete text of ‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚âà√¨How Freedom is Won‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‌ is available at www.freedomhouse.org/research/specreports/civictrans/FHCIVICTRANS.pdf

Many thanks to Adrian Karatnycky, Peter Ackerman, and Freedom House for providing this week‚àö¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s Worth Reading. 

With best wishes,
Tom Skladony

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NEW BOOK:  The Far Enemy : Why Jihad Went Global
by Fawaz A. Gerges
BOOK DESCRIPTION

Since September 11, Al Qaeda has been portrayed as an Islamist front united in armed struggle, or jihad, against the Christian West. However, as the historian and commentator Fawaz A. Gerges argues, the reality is rather different and more complex. In fact, Al Qaeda represents a minority within the jihadist movement, and its strategies have been vehemently criticized and opposed by religious nationalists among the jihadis, who prefer to concentrate on changing the Muslim world rather than taking the fight global. It is this rift that led to the events of September 11 and that has dominated subsequent developments. Through several years of primary field research, the author unravels the story of the jihadist movement and explores how it came into being, the philosophies of its founding fathers, its structure, the rifts and tensions that split its ranks, and why some members, like Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, favored international over local strategies in taking the war to the West. This is an articulate and original book that sheds light on the tactics used by the jihadis in the last three decades. As more alienated young Muslims are seduced into joining, the author asks where the jihadist movement is going and whether it can survive and shed its violent character.

 Fawaz A. Gerges holds the Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College.He was educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics and has previously been a Research Fellow at Harvard and Princeton universities. He is also a senior analyst and regular commentator for ABC television news. His books include America and Political Islam: Clash of Interests or Clash of Cultures? (Cambridge,1999) and The Journey of the Jihadis: A Biography of a State of Mind (Harcourt Press, 2006). He has written extensively on Arab and Muslim politics, Islamist movements, American foreign policy, and relations between the world of Islam and the West. His articles have appeared in several of the most prestigious journals and newspapers in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

BOOK REVIEW

“In this well-grounded and at times gripping account of militant Islamist activism, Gerges gives the most persuasive explanation yet for the direction taken by those jihadis who have set their sights on nothing less than a shift in the global balance of power. Taking these ruthless idealists of the new century seriously, through their writings and through interviews, he brings an immediacy to the story which shows up their limitations, but also underlines the ferocity of their desire to eliminate those who stand against them.”

Professor Charles Tripp, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

“Fawaz Gerges has written an authoritative, deeply-researched account of jihadist movements around the Middle East, and shows that these movements, far from monolithic, are rife with ideological and strategic debates. This stimulating and well-written book will be of great interest to the general reader and the specialist alike.”

Peter Bergen, CNN Terrorism Analyst and author of Holy War, Inc.:

Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden “No previous author has gone as far as Fawaz Gerges in explaining and illustrating the politics of Al Qaeda. On the basis of many interviews with jihadi militants, a close reading of the voluminous Arab literature thrown by its members, and, not least, the author’s astute and historically informed judgment, he has produced a rich and most informative portrait of this movement. Identifying the political costs to the Arab world of this extreme, if very much minoritarian tendency, he also shows how repeated miscalculations by the West, from Afghanistan in the 1980s to Iraq after 2003, have given a new lease of life to the anger and fantasies of bin Laden and his followers.”

Professor Fred Halliday, London School of Economics, and author of Two Hours that Shook the World and 100 Myths About Islam.

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WIN $10,000 FOR YOUR INSTITUTE!

Atlas’s Templeton Freedom Awards program is the largest worldwide awards program, directed specifically at the think tank market.  We are now accepting applications for the next round of prizes and awards grants. The deadline for Award Grant applications is November 15. The deadline for TFA Prize applications is December 1. Winners will be announced in March 2006.   Please contact Ms. YiQiao Xu (yiqiao.xu@atlasUSA.org) with questions.

Templeton Freedom Award Grant for Institute Excellence

PRIZE: $10,000 grant
http://www.atlasusa.org/programs/tfa/awards.php?refer=programs
DEADLINE: November 15, 2005

Templeton Freedom Award Grants for Institute Excellence reward extremely promising think tanks, especially those that are operating in difficult environments. To be considered for an Award Grant, institutes must fill out the online 2005 Institute Survey.  Please contact our TFA Program Manager, Yiqiao Xu, to receive a log-in ID and password for filling out the survey.  Previous Templeton Freedom Award Grant winners cannot win the grant again; however, they are encouraged to fill out the survey, which is used for other Atlas grant applications. 

Templeton Freedom Prizes for Excellence in Promoting Liberty

PRIZE: $10,000 cash award for first place; $5,000 cash award for second place

http://www.atlasusa.org/programs/tfa/prizes.php?refer=programs

DEADLINE: December 1, 2005

Templeton Freedom Prizes for Excellence in Promoting Liberty recognize outstanding projects within established categories: Free Market Solutions to Poverty, Ethics & Values, Social Entrepreneurship, and Student Outreach. To apply, please fill out the application form on the Atlas website (available as an interactive form in Microsoft Word or as a PDF document). The same form is used for each Prize category. Be sure to specify the Prize category for which the Project should be considered. Return instructions are printed on the form.  Please note that an institute cannot win more than once in a prize category.

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For questions or comments about the information in this bulletin, contact
Zahir Janmohamed at
zahir@islam-democracy.org.

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Copyright 2005 Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID).
All Rights Reserved.

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