Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Turkish Experiment

Defeating Al-Qeada One Democracy at a Time

This American Muslims thoughts on the Turkish election.

Iraq is not leading to any peace, let alone piece of mind for this administration. What sway there was in genuine development of democracy in the Middle East was lost during the destruction of Lebanon by Israel and its dismal state of d├ętente that now exists on the streets of Lebanon. Then there is the push for democracy in the rest of the Middle East which began with putting the feet of dictator’s under fire, to only have the fire sizzle down to a sputter as the Iraqi quagmire and rhetoric of invasion in Syria and more so Iran gained momentum.

Nor do we have much in the way of democracy building in the Occupied Territories, where effectively we have destroyed the possibility of a Palestinian state, into three pieces- Gaza, West Bank and millions of refugees- by our refusal to take into account the will of the people, instead we have effectively stamped the will of the Palestinian people with a radioactive sticker.

Where does democracy stand? Well, the results in Turkey are a key indicator. With the AKP taking a significant gain in seats and a dismal turnout of the “secularist” parties, democracy has a strong viable chance in the Muslim world, but can the West stomach that?

Unfortunately in the past what we have seen is the unraveling of Middle Eastern countries because of the legitimate win or illegitimate stuffing of ballots by Western supported political parties against popular Islamic (Muslim) oriented parties. Turkey is no Iranian revolution, yet its consequences are a blow to the very doctrine espoused by Al-Qaeda.

The reason Al-Qeada has any message that is viable is because there is no access to Muslims in their countries to express the pent up frustration of lack of representation, growth and access to common, basic needs as well as rights. Al-Qaeda’s message is that Democracy, in any form, has no place in Islam and that political parties under Islamic sway carry no pull. These parties are thus just tools to appease the masses.

The Hamas win as well as the AKP election are examples that Al-Qaeda’s world view is not shared by all. If the West takes into account that part of the Al-Qaeda’s appeal is the lack of access to power and development then we are one step closer to understanding how Al-Qaeda can gain recruits. Now it is time for Muslims to really step up to the plate and recognizes that political involvement is possible, that it is viable.

This will discredit and undermine the Al-Qaeda worldview, but it will take more then just political involvement, it will also take campaigns to reduce illetracy, to decrease unemployment and to bring in development- and it will take an investment in cultivating religious understanding so that those who skew Islam to fit their agenda's (even though governments can skew Islam to fit their agenda's as well) are not able to access a population that is marginalized and illiterate when it comes to religious practice and principles.

What other movements and parties need to understand is best stated in this article:

Islamic movements and states must realize that what happened in Turkey has created a platform for measurement and a test for merit. The Islamic world will not be measured against a ceiling that stands lower than the Turkish level. Based on that, everything below that threshold is deemed aberrant and unacceptable.
There is a lot of work yet to be done, but Democracy, Muslim style is still possible.

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