From Ali in Iraq:
A question asked very frequently and one that is rarely answered objectively. This question is not new but it has been focused on after OIF, and that led to many people in the US and Europe somewhat switching sides in the way the respond to it or the way they are expected to respond to it, as answering this question is closely related to the war on Saddam’s regime, the change in Iraq and its legitimacy.
Being a Muslim, or at least being born as such makes my response rather difficult and its credibility and objectivity being logically questioned. However, I’ll try.
To begin with I must say I have a problem with the question itself and to clarify this problem in short, I’ll instead ask this question: Is Christianity compatible with democracy? Or is Judaism compatible with democracy?
Before anyone starts yelling at me I would like to provide my answers. I think that one can answer both questions with “yes” and “no”.
“Yes” if we consider western societies as Christian societies and “no” if that means that there’s no need for separation of the church from the state.
The western societies were Christian ones in the middle ages but they’re not now. The church was not only incompatible with democracy, but it actually fought so hard against it as a form of secular government. It did cost Europe some real bloody wars to ‘convince’ the church that it should not use its influence to run things as it wishes.
The American society is a slightly different case and the American readers of this blog can argue in this better than I can, but I think it’s reasonable to say that Americans are generally more religious or has allowed religion some invisible role in politics because they didn’t have to go through a bitter struggle against it to gain their freedom as the Europeans. Still, I doubt that anyone can really say that the American society is a Christian one, as it’s obviously not!
What I’m trying to say is that no religion in its present form is compatible with democracy and both democracy and religion can only co-exist if that religion is marginalized. In my mind all present religions, if you take them from the mouths of their advocators, being Imams, priests or whatever they are called in other religions and look at them with a modern rational mind, are (pardon me) so full of sh*t! (Note that I’m not talking about the core of those beliefs but how they’re presented to us now).
There’s no way one can develop a modern democracy directly from any of those religions simply because all of them declare that they have the absolute truth.
What’s left after that is that it’s not the problem that Islam that is not compatible with democracy but it’s Muslims who are not compatible, or sometimes it’s Arabs. The least I can say about that is that it’s a racist point of view.
We don’t need to democratize Islam, as it wasn’t possible with any other religion. We simply need to separate the mosque from the state, and that could be done violently or peacefully depending on the place and the circumstances. So the right question in my mind is, can we separate the mosque from the state? I for one believe it’s very possible, especially in Iraq.