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Speaker (Dr. Masmoudi) Promotes Middle Eastern Democracy

Speaker (Dr. Masmoudi) Promotes Middle Eastern Democracy

CSID in the News 

Speaker (Dr. Masmoudi) Promotes Middle Eastern Democracy

BY MASON MOSELEY

October 13, 2005 – Democracy in the Middle East is possible, and young people can lead the way, said a leading expert on Islam and democracy Monday. Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy in Washington, D.C., addressed UNC students during a town hall meeting in Carroll Hall, the first of several presentations to be held at various universities in North Carolina

 

He talked about the social and political problems facing Islamic nations, particularly Arab states, and the need for democracy in these nations.

 

We have two goals (at the Center): One is to make the point that Islam and democracy are compatible, Masmoudi said. Two is to convince the United States foreign policy that they should promote democracy abroad, especially in the Arab world.

 

Specifically, Masmoudi spoke of the barricades blocking democracy in the Middle East and the possible solutions to promoting representative government in the region.

 

Citing self-proclaimed secular democratic regimes in Arab states, such as Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Masmoudi said most Arabs have a negative view of secular democracy because of the persecution and oppression the term.

 

People do not understand democracy, he said. The word secular has become an insult and has become very unpopular in the Arab world.

 

Masmoudi said the best way to promote democracy is to educate the Muslim people in the Middle East about the merits of secular representative government, and to do so on the grass-roots level.

 

In an attempt to teach Islamic people about the benefits of democracy, representatives from the center have been traveling across the Middle East. It has hosted 30 conferences in Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

 

Among the primary focuses of the conferences has been the role of young people in Muslim states, where a population explosion has created the largest youth demographic in the region’s history.

 

Masmoudi said many of the problems of the new generation can be attributed to minimal job opportunity and little economic growth, leaving many young people with no avenue for success or expression. The predicament is what led to violence, including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he said.

 

But if young people are properly educated about democracy and inspired to reform their nations repressive forms of government, Masmoudi said he thinks the fortunes of the next generation can change.

 

The younger generation is not going to accept being ruled the way their parents and grandparents were, he said. There is going to be change. The question is how will it happen.

 

Masmoudi also criticized the policies of the United States government concerning democracy in Arab countries. He cited the continued support of authoritarian regimes in countries like Egypt.

 

The U.S. should send a message that if you want to be a friend of the U.S., you have to be democratic, Masmoudi said. This has to be a criteria of how we deal with nations in this region.

 

 

* STAFF WRITER

 

 

This story was printed from The Daily Tar Heel. Site URL: http://www.dailytarheel.com.

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