Can Democracy Be Maintained In A Muslim Led Nation?

Mona Eltahawy, writing in the Daily News of Egypt, raises questions concerning the relationship between a democratic society and the rights of Muslim fundamentalists. She discusses her interaction with Khaled Hamz Salam, who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhodd and recently was arrested by Egyptian autorities. Ms. Eltahawy emphasizes she completely disagrees with the views of Salam and doubts if she, as modern secular woman, would have any opportunity to express her views in a nation led by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, much to her surprise, Salam has reprinted her views on his web site and insists if the Brotherhood ever took over, the rights of women would be protected. He is now one of 750 members of the Muslim Brotherhood who have been imprisoned.

Mona Eltahawy believes President Mubarak uses scare tactics to maintain power by frightening the West with tales of Islamic oppression if the Brotherhood was allowed to participate in politics and eventually gain power. The spectre of Islamic fundamentalism allows Mubarak to continue his dictatorial rule which, after his death, might be followed by the rule of his son. She believes arresting people like Salam who respect women’s rights represent a threat to the Egyptian government attempt to protray all Brotherhood members as extremists and terrorists.

Her column raises the issue if a new generation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders is emerging who are more in tune with the modern world. Certainly, the example of Turkey shows a fundamentalist government still respects secularism. Perhaps, a major problem of the current Bush administration is being blinded by words like “terrorism” or “religious fundamentalism” which leads them to support dictatorship who rule in the name of being better than fundamentalism.

The real question is whether a third road is beginning to be created in the Muslim world which allows both fundamentalist and modern man and woman to walk alongside one another into the future.