Islamists Are Intrinsically Anti-Democratic

( Michael Rubin - Election participation does not make candidates democratic. Hamas ran on a platform rejecting the compromises necessary for Palestinian statehood. Its charter embraced imposition of Islamic rule, with the Koran as its constitution, and it has eschewed rule-of-law. Well-known for its attacks on Israelis, it has also targeted liberal Palestinians. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, another recipient of recent State Department outreach, also has a long legacy of violence. Its armed wing has murdered thousands. Engaging any group that has been involved in terror only legitimizes the violence that propelled that group to prominence. The Arab world is capable of democracy. When mechanisms for electoral accountability exist, Islamists lose their charm. In Jordan, the Islamic Action Front lost half its seats between 1989 and 1993, after it failed to fulfill its promises. For democracy to succeed, all parties have to embrace not only elections as the path to power, but also regular subservience to the electorate as their master. Because Islamists base their legitimacy upon a higher power, they are intrinsically anti-democratic and unwilling to accept popular rebuke. One man, one vote, one time makes dictatorship, not democracy. By embracing Islamists in Iran, President Jimmy Carter replaced one dictatorship with another. The Bush administration's flirtation with Arab Islamists risks doing the same. Washington should push for democracy, but only work with groups willing to abide by democratic precepts. The writer, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is editor of Middle East Quarterly.

2005-06-03 00:00:00

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