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A Reading on: Democratic Values in the Muslim World The Empirical Puzzle and Research Question

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the empirical puzzle and research question
The Empirical Puzzle and Research Question

The Empirical Puzzle: In 1975, predominantly Muslim countries were responsible for 25 percent of the world’s non-democratic regimes, while in 2007 they are responsible for 55 percent of the world non- democratic regimes. Besides, no one single Muslim country is considered to be a consolidated democracy.

The research question: do the values and attitudes of ordinary Muslims obstruct their participation in the democratization process in Muslim countries?

slide3
Following Sherlock Holmes, why do not Muslims bark for democracy when the evidence suggests that they should?

Or do they?

how countries democratize
How Countries Democratize?
  • Mass-initiated (revolutionary transitions).
  • Elite- Led.
  • Occupation.
  • Naïve liberalization.
  • Negotiated Exit.

For democracy to consolidate, a strong commitment to democracy on the parts of elite and masses (i.e. political participation) should be present.

slide5

The Policy Dimension of the Puzzle

Condoleezza Rice: “Democratization orthe march of freedom in the Muslim world is in the interest of the U.S. … Bahrain, Qatar and - to a certain extent – Jordan [have] several reformist elements. We want to be supportive of them." Rice, US national security adviser. (Financial Times, September 23 2002)Ahmad Maher: “We in the Arab and Muslim world know our way. We have our own will and we hold firm to our rights. Besides, we do not need anybody to give us lessons on how to run our countries.” Maher, Egyptian Foreign Minister in response to Rice’s comments. (Al-hayat, September 25, 2002)

what does the literature say

What does the literature say?

Three Trends:

I. Neo-orientalists.

II. Their critics.

III. Empirical studies.

neo orientalists islam is fundamentally anti democratic
Neo-Orientalists: Islam is Fundamentally anti-democratic:

The Assumption: one creed, one culture, one phenomenon:

Pipes: Pipes: “Islam calls forth intense reactions. It inspires a powerful loyalty among Muslims which no other faith can rival. …nearly all Muslim subjects kept away from politics and became actively engaged only when they had a chance to apply the law or battle non-Muslims. This Islamic pattern - customary withdrawal punctuated bursts of activities - survived into modern period.” (Pipes 1983: 15, 144)

Huntington: “Islam...has not been hospitable to democracy.” (Huntington, 1984)

Fukuyama: “Not Even Islam's Disdain for Modernity Will Halt Progress.” (The Wall Street Journal, 2001)

counter reading of center for the study of islam and democracy among others said s orientalism
“Democracy-friendly” aspects of Islam

such as shura.

ijtihad.

racial equality.

Islam’s sensitivity to the needs of the poor and weak.

Respect for order.

Islam’s sense of justice.

“Democracy-challenging” aspects of Islam

Democracy as people-focused doctrine while tawheed (oneness of God) as piety-focused doctrine.

Beda’a (disguised innovation).

Ijma’a that delegitmizes dissent and opposition.

The unequal status of women and non-Muslims in Islam.

The link between mosque and monarch.

Counter Reading of Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy among Others (Said's Orientalism)
observations
The orientalists’ explanation assumes that Muslims share “common values” because they are Muslims (a testable hypothesis).

The neo-orientalists dominated the literature in the West for at least three decades and gained more support after Sept. 11th.

Most of the orientalists’ studies focus on either Islam itself, Muslim rulers, or Islamic groups (not ordinary individuals).

Norris and Inglehart using World Value Survey find no significant difference between Muslims’ support for democracy comparing to others (which Muslims and which democracy?)

Observations
i the written survey and focus group discussions
I. The Written Survey and Focus Group Discussions
  • The survey was tested for 11 times in 5 languages with different groups of Muslims.
  • A written survey mainly from literate Muslims (around 4,792 responses from 9 countries) was collected during the period of May 24th 2002 and August 1st 2002.
ii email survey
II. Email Survey
  • Fifty-five thousand emails were drawn via purposive cluster samples.
  • The maximum # of Muslims who had access to the Internet was 42 million (Jul. 2001 estimation).
  • The responses (non-randomly) represent around 300 million non-poor urban literate adult Muslims (NULAM).
countries included in the analysis
Countries included in the analysis:
  • Countries that has 480 or more respondents.
  • Including 4 countries where Muslims are minorities: USA, EU, and India.
  • Total of 33 countries.
  • 91 Iraqis residing in the Arab world are included.
slide16

Factor Analysis

Note: Principal component factor analysis was used with varimax rotation and Kaiser normalization. The total model predicts 73.8% of cumulative variance. The religiosity and support for democratic hardware scales were reversed so that a positive response expresses more religiosity and greater support for democratic hardware.

Cronbach's estimate of reliability and internal consistency is reported as Alpha.

Source: Fattah's Islam and Democracy Survey, (2001-2002).

general findings
General Findings
  • At the macro-level, the neo-orientalists have committed at least one logical fallacy: hasty generalization equating political creed to political culture and generalizing about all Muslims by examining a non-representative group of them.
  • At the micro-level, independent variables play different roles in different countries.
what is political culture
“Common Values” approach:

“shared values legitimating social practices.” (Wildavsky 1987) .

Most (neo-) Orientalists adopt this definition of culture (Pipes, Ben Ashour, Bernard Lewis, Huntington among others)

“Common Questions” approach:

“points of concern that are debated” (Laitin, 1988)

Orientalists’ critics are implicitly closer to this vision (Moussili, Esposito, Mazrui, Abo Talebi, Price, Wedeen among others). The findings of this study supports this stipulation of culture.

What is (Political) Culture?
muslims political culture
Muslims’ Political Culture
  • Muslims’ macro question/main concern:

“What is Islamic and what is not Islamic?”

This is the core of Muslims’ culture

Note: It is not the creed, it is how to infer from the creed what is Islamic and what is not Islamic?

  • Different Muslims adopt different values while answering this question. These differences constitute different factions inside Islam. Three major factions have contesting interpretations of Islamic Sharia’a.
slide22

Ex. The declined Wassat Party in Egypt

Democracy is a practical application of Islam

Violent

Ex. Islamic Jihad in Egypt

Non-violent

Ex. Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (developing)

Authoritarian

Liberal

Ex. Al-Wafd Party in Egypt

Ex. Ruling NDP in Egypt

Democracy is disbelief

Democracy has Islamic elements

Islam is a religion, democracy is politics.

i consistent influential variables
I. Consistent Influential Variables
  • Muslim women are more supportive of democracy than men in all Muslim societies, holding other variables constant.
  • Muslims who resided in a democracy for a year or longer endorse democracy more than Muslims who did not have this experience, holding other variables constant.
  • Modernist and liberal Muslims who believe in the compatibility between shura and democracy strongly furnish support to democracy than those who have doubts about this compatibility, holding other variables constant.
  • Muslims who are not satisfied with the incumbents tend to be more supportive of democracy, holding other variables constant.
  • In most cases, the more Muslims have an experience with political participation through voting, the more they support democratic hardware and software, holding other variables constant.
ii insignificant variables
II. Insignificant Variables
  • Blaming the West for the continuation and spread for dictatorships in the Muslims world .
  • The attitudes toward political Islam measured by Muslims’ attitudes toward the concept of Islam as a religion and state were not found to be helpful in explaining the attitudes of Muslims toward democratic hardware at all.
islamists in power
Islamists in power?
  • The Islamist ideology is embraced by the absolute majority in all 32 societies with the exception of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Mali, Tunisia, Albania and Turkey
    • This result indicates two important lessons:

1) At least in the short to medium terms, no democracy can emerge with the marginalization of Islam as a source of political ideology or Islamists as political actors.

2) Free and fair elections in most of Muslim countries would lead Islamists to power or to become strong opposition force, holding other variables constant.

concluding remarks
Concluding Remarks
  • Muslims and Arabs are too heterogeneous to be studied in a lump-sum way of thinking.
  • Not all secular Muslims are liberal and not all Islamists are anti-democracy.
  • Some do bark: some countries’ political cultures are compatible with democracy--- search elsewhere for why they do not democratize.
  • Some countries’ political cultures are clear obstacles to democratization.
limitations of this study and agenda for further research
Limitations of this Study and Agenda for Further Research:
  • Though pooled data represent an important slice of Muslims, it does not represent all Muslims. More panel-data is needed.
  • Other variables that need to examined in further research include:
    • role of scholars as democracy entrepreneurs.
    • non-democratic rulers as democracy obstacles.
    • the role of Western regimes as both obstacles to and exemplars for democracy.
reasons of optimism
Reasons of Optimism
  • Biology: the political role of death.
  • Geology: recovering from the curse of oil.
  • Theology: not all Islamists are Bin Laden.
  • Technology: free public sphere.
  • Ideology: the end of Ba’thism and Nasserism.