Some have argued that although the concept of human rights originated in the West, the world should not renounce declaring or enforcing human rights. 1 R. Panikkar writes that other traditions should "develop and formulate their own homomorphic view corresponding to or opposing Western 'rights'. . . . [O}ther world traditions should make room for themselves, since no one else is likely to make it for them."2 Attempts to marginalize or disparage Islamic perspectives on human rights, social justice and democracy in the name of making universal in the Muslim world practices which are Western-liberal in origin will render uncertain the future prospects of peace and stability in these countries. Such efforts, which are described by Charles Amjad-Ali as "pseudo-universalizing,'' pose a direct challenge to Islamic political, moral and legal orders. The demands of the Islamic world to experiment with participatory politics on a different scale-not necessarily along liberal political lines-must be respected.3 Amjad-Ali, advocating a plurality of political orders and democratic views, writes, "Peace is most threatened when the historical basis and experience of a particular people is hegemonically thrust upon others who have a completely different history and experience."4
Dialogue between different cultures is imperative if the debate on how to promote democratization as well as a holistic notion of human rights is to have cultural legitimacy. One observer has contended that the Gulf War proved that secular nationalism is bankrupt and that it is the Islamic heritage which offers to the millions of the disinherited a sense of identity and the power to struggle against Zulm (injustice).5
To the casual observer as well as to some scholars, it would seem that the ideals of democracy and Islam are diametrically opposed and that the schism between the two is irreconcilable.6 Initially, the opposition between the ideals of Western democracy and Islamic social justice seems pronounced. Upon closer scrutiny, however, one may find many similarities that do not appear at first glance. The purpose of this paper is to discern where Islam and democracy diverge and where they intersect. We will first examine the cases of Algeria, Iran, Pakistan and the Sudan as examples of current situations where the dialectic between Islam and democracy manifests itself, and then attempt to use the human rights conditions of these countries as a basis for analysis. We will close by assessing the Western world's responses to and fears of the resurgent Islamists in the Middle East and North Africa.
THE MEANING OF DEMOCRACY
In order to compare and contrast Islamic government and democracy, it is essential to have a clear definition of democracy itself. The ideas of two theorists, Joseph Schumpeter and David Held, represent the literature. Adopting a narrow definition, Schumpeter maintains that democracy exists only when the most powerful decision makers are elected "in fair, honest and periodic elections in which candidates freely compete for votes and in which virtually all the adult population is eligible to vote."7 Applying a more comprehensive notion, Held states that democracy involves a basic principle of autonomy for individuals, a high degree of accountability of the state, socio-economic liberties for the individual citizens, and equal opportunities for political participation. 8
Huntington agrees that the minimalist Schumpeterian approach is the best way to establish clear norms of democracy. He says there are five. First, the existence of free and fair elections is the basis for democracy, and the attachment of any other contingencies to the definition of democracy may be justified but only serves to muddle the definition. Second, those elected must wield actual power and must be part of the decision-making process; otherwise, elections would only have a decorative function. Third, the stability of a government is not the same as the nature of a system. Therefore, the presence or lack of stability in a state does not determine whether it is democratic. Fourth, democracy is a dichotomous variable, fully separate from non-democratic regimes rather than being part of a continuum. This, according to Huntington, allows the transition from a non-democratic regime to a democratic one to be easily comprehended. Lastly, Huntington defines non-democratic regimes as those that do not hold elections and do not encourage widespread electoral participation. 9 This five-point definition is sound. We will also pay attention to pluralism or the lack thereof in these countries, for although there are some disagreements as to whether or not pluralism has a place in the definition of democracy, we feel it is an important factor in the maintenance of a democratic society.
THE ISLAMIC VIEWPOINT
To fully understand the implications of Muslim thinking in governmental procedure. The main focus of Islamist groups is to make the Sharia, or Quranic holy law, the law of the land. This is very important when one speaks of human rights in Islamic countries.11 The Sharia is what gives rulers their mandate to rule; that is, broadly speaking, their divine right. Human rights, then, are given by God to the people; human rights are not inherent in human nature. Ann Mayer explains this viewpoint: Muslim tradition stresses that what is set down by Sharia, being handed down directly from Muhammed, is absolutely just. As Sharia then supersedes reason, humans are not able to use their logic to determine just laws. This line of thought then gives divine sanction to the relationship between a ruler and the ruled in Islamic society. Muslim traditions emphasize the duty of followers to obey the divine law rather than place importance on individual rights. Human rights follow from and reflect human obligations. Were the Sharia accepted as just, then perfect justice would be attained if everyone followed the divine laws. Challenging the law is tantamount to attempting to use one's own human and "fallible" reasoning to replace the "just" words of the Quran.12 John Esposito echoes a similar point: because Sharia is seen as the word of the test cases, it is necessary to be familiar with the way Islamists10 wish to implement God, legislation passed by the government cannot contradict the laws laid out by the divine law. Therefore, the will of society may not be a factor in the passage of laws, and personal views do not have a place in the deliberation of legal standards.13
The Sharia also implies that the interest of the ummah, the Muslim community, should have the first priority, even over personal liberties in some cases. Amyn Sajoo points out two important characteristics in the Islamic approach to human rights: ''The first is recognition that Islamic doctrine's emphasis on the welfare of the ummah may limit the scope of individual liberty. The second is the conception of rights as teleological.''14 Sajoo adds that the exercise of individual liberties is not appropriate behavior when it conflicts with the common and collective good. Further, and in marked contrast to the ideals of Western society, Islamic society sees freedoms and rights as means and not ends. Muslims are expected to work for the good of the general society, which will lead to the protection of rights. Human rights, then, are seen more as a way to better society than as protection for the individual.15 All of these arguments support the idea that rights are handed down by God rather than existing inherently in human nature.
Islamist groups throughout the Muslim world have risen to a level of power sufficient to gain serious consideration in elections. According to Robin Wright, the Islamic movement is in its second stage. The first stage was characterized by Shiite activism that was blatantly visible, usually in the form of violent demonstrations such as suicide bombings, hijackings and hostage taking. With the exception of the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the assassination of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt by Sunni Muslim radicals, actions taken in the name of Islam were by and large promoted by Shiites. The second phase, however, has seen a shift toward larger participation by Sunni Muslims, who make up 85 percent of the world's one billion Muslims. This stage of the resurgence of Islam differs markedly from the first. The new activists wish to work more within the system than outside it.16 Wright gives many reasons for this. The first is that the new Islamists have realized the extreme costs of Shiite activism in the 1970s, as countries which promote Islamic-based insurrection-Iran for example-have found themselves in diplomatic isolation and economic doldrums. Islamists have also realized the heavy costs of conflict with the West. A militarist stance will not act to help attain the objectives that Islamists strive for, but rather push them farther away. In sum, Wright states, "lslamists have not failed to recognize that pluralism and interdependence are the catchwords of the 1990s."17 This view of the evolution of Islamic activism is seconded by Hasan Turabi, leader of the Sudanese National Islamic Front, who asserts, "The first phase of this revival attempted to use regular sources of Islam in order to criticize and reformulate their condition. . . . Subsequently other Islamic movements have developed with a more central political involvement. "18
Islamic parties and existing governments both have seen the political importance of promoting Muslim beliefs in political endeavors. John L. Esposito and James P. Piscatori write:
Governments have attempted to manipulate Islam to enhance their legitimacy, and opposition movements have scored limited victories by using Islam to press governments into making social reforms. The question is thus not so much whether this mass sentiment has acquired a political voice today, but whether it can be routinely expressed through formal channels of political participation.19
The use of Islam to legitimize a political agenda has become an important tool in recent years. As Islamist groups began to attain successes in local and national elections during the early 1990s, they became the most ardent and insistent supporters of free elections in their respective countries. Esposito and Piscatori raise the basic question of whether or not Islamic activism can be channeled effectively through the government. The importance of the question is visible in our test cases.
THE QUESTION OF UNIVERSALITY
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights are three documents that provide a basic description of the rights to which all human beings are entitled. The Universal Declaration was accepted by most Islamic states in the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948, with Saudi Arabia abstaining. In fact, the Pakistani delegate to the United Nations at the time declared that Islam actually advocated the pursuit of human rights and that the Declaration was easily compatible with Islamic doctrine. 20 However, some argue that there are provisions in the Universal Declaration that do not mesh with Islam. In one very important instance, the Declaration guarantees that an individual has the freedom to choose his or her own religion. This choice is forbidden in traditional Islamic countries where apostasy carries a death penalty. The seeming consensus concerning norms of human rights does not reflect actual consensus. The norms are not accepted by some Islamic governments.
No monolithic viewpoint emanates from the Islamic world that addresses the question of a universal code of human rights; rather, there are several schools of thought on the status of human rights in the Islamic world and their relation to human-rights standards in a universal sense. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim states that the idea of universality cannot be based simply on the existence of a lowest common denominator of human-rights norms already in existence. Rather, he asserts that dialogue between different cultures and value systems could provide a better means of achieving universal human-rights norms. An-Naim writes:
Instead of being content with the existing least common denominator, I propose to broaden and deepen universal consensus on the formulation and implementation of human rights through internal reinterpretation of, and cross-cultural dialogue about, the meaning and implications of basic human values and norms. 21
This cross-cultural approach to human rights norms is further backed by Alison Dundes Renteln, who quotes Herskovits's distinction between universals and absolutes:
Absolutes are fixed and, as far as convention is concerned, are not admitted to have variation, to differ from culture to culture, from epoch to epoch. Universals, on the other hand, are those least common denominators to be extracted from the range of variation that all phenomena of the natural or cultural world manifest. 22
It is important to be sensitive to the differences between Islamic and Western cultures when attempting to assess the democratic ideals present in Muslim society, especially when looking at human rights. Such sensitivity could help us better understand the existing different responses to the process of democratization and its outcomes.
THE CASE OF ALGERIA
The case of Algeria is a good example of the perceived conflict between the lslamist movement and the fundamental nature of democracy. Recent events in Algeria are essential to an understanding of the idea of an Islamic democracy there. Algeria has functioned under a single-party system of government since its independence from France in 1962. However, the Algerian people became dissatisfied with the lack of social and economic progress and began to push for reforms in the hope of an eventual move toward democratization. This discontent came to a head in October of 1988, when in six days of civilian food riots, 400 people were killed. As John Entelis and Lisa Arone note, "Mostly [the riots] represented a revolt against existing political arrangements, a demand for change and a degree of political accountability" as well as a "protest against a corrupt and inefficient government" and were "a product of declining living standards and frequent food shortages."23 It was projected that by 1992 more than 14 million of the total Algerian population of 25 million would be living under the poverty line. 24 This popular uprising led the government to announce, on November 3, 1988, a national referendum to amend the 1976 constitution. The referendum, held in February of 1989, led to a newly drafted constitution that ended the socialist system in Algeria. It split the state from the party, the party in this case being the National Liberation Front (FLN), and gave opposition parties full protection under the law.25
The government, led by President Chadli Berrjedid, then made the decision to hold local and regional elections in June 1990. The results came as a complete surprise to the ruling FLN. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), the only major opposition party that did not boycott the elections, won 55 percent of the popular vote compared to 31 percent for the FLN, won 32 out of 48 provinces (67 percent) and 853 municipalities out of 1,539 (55 percent). The FLN totals were 14 and 487 respectively, with smaller parties and independents winning 2 provinces and 199 municipalities. 26 With legislative elections slated to take place in December of 1991, the FLN became increasingly concerned about its political future.
The election results can be explained in several ways. Many observers agree that much of the vote for the FIS was in essence a rejection of the FLN. By the evidence of the election, the government in power was not serving the needs of the public. The government had also been charged with corruption, which only served to augment existing grievances. Whereas the FLN-led government was perceived as impotent, the lslamists of the FIS offered an alternative that was not only familiar-because it was based on Islamic principles instead of secular ones-but also popular as a reaction to the problems facing Algerian society. For instance, a trash collectors' strike took place in the Algerian capital during the local elections. When piles of garbage began to accumulate in the city streets, the FIS and its supporters came out en masse to dispose of the trash with their bare hands. Given the government's inability to deal effectively with the situation, the FIS seemed to be the party that would produce results for the Algerian people.27 With such grass-roots support, an overwhelming FIS victory was predicted in the first round of legislative elections in December of 1991.
The elections proved the projection to be true. The FIS won 188 of the 231 seats contested in this election, 28 short of a majority. The Socialist Forces Front, a Berber-led party which had boycotted the local elections, took 25 seats. Meanwhile, the FLN came in a dismal third with only 15 seats. Not only was this a larger victory for the FIS than expected, but it also seemed to be a good indicator of public opinion. These had been the most pluralistic elections possible, with over 50 parties participating. This overwhelming victory seemed to assure that the FIS would win a dominating majority in Parliament during the second round of elections, scheduled for January 16, 1992. That election would decide the recipients of 199 additional seats. It seemed certain that the first Islamic democracy would be installed in Algeria.28
The FLN became increasingly concerned that once the lslamists assumed power they would not respect the democratic wishes of the people. The army, in the meantime, became convinced that President Benjedid was attempting to forge a power-sharing agreement with the FIS and felt that the security and sanctity of the Algerian state would be compromised by such an arrangement. Soon after the first-round results, a "white coup" by Prime Minister Sid Ahmed Ghozali, Defense Minister Khaled Nezzar, and Minister of the Interior Major General Larbi Belkheir, with the backing of the army, forced the resignation of Benjedid. A "High Security Council" consisting of the main players in the coup was formed to act as the government. The council's first order of business was to annul the results of the December elections and to cancel the January 16, 1992, second round elections. The FIS was officially banned, and most of its leaders and supporters were arrested and/or detained.
It has been reported that at least 8,800 supporters of the FIS and Hamas, another radical lslamist movement, had been sent into detention camps in the southern Sahara desert by March 1992.29 At first the military placed its troops in positions of high visibility in Algiers, hoping that this would deter demonstrations by lslamist sympathizers. However, vicious fighting broke out in the streets, suggesting that the election results may not have been indicative of a partisan battle between the FIS and the FLN but rather evidence of a truly popular uprising against an authoritarian regime. The fighting led to the imposition of a state of siege by the High Council in February 1992. This action quelled demonstrations for the moment, but most observers assumed that it was only a matter of time before the tension caused by the crackdown erupted again in Algerian society.
On October 24, 1993, three Frenchmen were abducted in Algeria; the government finally secured their release in November. This action by extremist Islamist groups indicates the unrest that has plagued Algeria since the ban on the FIS.30 Throughout the unrest and violence the FIS has remained a cohesive entity while other groups such as the FLN have splintered; the Islamists have been the body pushing hardest for democracy. On January 14, 1993, Ali Kati, Algeria's acting head of state, promised to hold a referendum to decide the future direction of the nation. Meanwhile, the five-man High State Council, acting as a collective-style presidency, extended a state of emergency to counter the Islamic dissidents, and Kati's promise proved to be hollow.
On January 31, 1994, retired General Liamine Zeroual was named as Algeria's new ''president of state." Zeroual assumed the country's top post from the interim High State Council and made it clear that he was committed to serious dialogue and compromise among the opposition groups, especially the army and the lslamists. It remains unclear if these negotiations will pull Algeria back from the spiral of violence and economic collapse in the near future.31 A crucial sticking point in these negotiations is, of course, the issue of the amnesty of the military. 32 The outlawed FIS, which became a guerrilla movement after the coup under Sheik Abdel Kadir Shabouti and Al Said Makhloufi, has prospects for useful compromise in certain areas. As militant armed Islamic groups gained popular appeal in the two years after the coup, the army became wary of a potential split: while the top brass remained vehemently antifundamentalist, some junior officers and conscripts are said to have leaned toward the Islamist s.33 This opens the possibility of compromise between the FIS and the army. Still, many argue that the prospects are bleak for a national "dialogue" and an end to the violence that has thus far left more than 3,000 Algerians dead. 34
The crisis in Algeria appears to have vindicated the fears of many of the leaders of Islamic countries about the effect of speedy democratic reform. Moreover, it has, as one observer writes, "tied the West even closer to governments that may be stumbling further away from democracy, even as the West calls for more freedom as the basis for global stability."35
THE FATE OF DEMOCRACY IN ALGERIA
The Algerian experience, however transient, offers vital evidence for understanding democratization and politics in the Islamic world. So does the role of external support by the regional or global actors for the fledgling, frail democratic movements in the Islamic and non-Islamic Third World. Some have theorized that external support is an important factor in the establishment of a democratic regime. As Samuel Huntington asserts:
... when countries reach a certain social and economic level, they enter a transition zone where the probability of their moving in a democratic direction increases markedly. Foreign influence may lead to democratization efforts before countries reach that zone or they may retard or prevent democratization by countries which have reached that level of development.36
Despite the fact that the FIS won in what can be considered fully democratic elections, its lack of external support-especially from the West-led to its eventual downfall. The Western response to the situation in Algeria calls into serious question the sincerity of Western rhetoric, which promises to support democratic movements on a global scale. This contradiction was best characterized when the U.S. State Department released an official statement professing that the United States "regretted" the situation, but then took no formal action to address it. Many Western states later invited members of the junta to officially discuss plans for Algeria after the coup.
Furthermore, a European-American consortium of banks lent $1.45 billion to the junta for debt restructuring. Meanwhile, addressing the U.N. General Assembly, President George Bush said, "People everywhere seek government of and by the people. And they want to enjoy their inalienable rights to freedom and property and person," and he added that the United States would support these rights worldwide.37 After the U.S. response to the Algerian situation, it has become apparent that the United States is not ready to accept an Islamic-led, albeit democratically elected, government and would rather support an autocratic regime that promotes Western interests. This reflects the fear that once Islamists come to power they will not adhere to their pledges of democratization. Michael Collins Dunn echoes such a fear: "After all, if a party believes it alone speaks for God, how likely is it to hand over power to another party if ousted by the voters?" 38 Unfortunately, in the Algerian case, the first instance of a truly democratically elected, though Islamist, government was not allowed to exist, and it will never be known if such a result would actually have come about.
ISLAMIZATION: PAKISTAN AND THE SUDAN
Pakistan and the Sudan both have experiences with the transition from autocratic, military regimes to democratic regimes. They are similar in some ways, different in others. Pakistan went from a military dictatorship bent on "Islamization programs" to a more democratic regime, in direct contrast to the Sudanese transition from a more democratic government to a military government insistent on the implementation of full Islamic law. We will first look at the Pakistani case and then compare it to the Sudanese case.
On July 5, 1977, General Zia ul-Haq came to power in a military coup and began a program of Islamization in Pakistan. Zia began to use Islam not only as a means to suspend democratic elections and constitutional freedoms but also as a means to legitimize his own power. Zia wished to implement full Islamic law in Pakistan, and, in the years that followed, he instituted a progressive program that transferred the laws of the land from a more secular tradition to an Islamic one. However, despite the fact that Zia professed that his "Islamization programs'' were the best path for Pakistan to follow, in many ways the quality of Pakistani institutions-most notably the system of justice-declined during the transformation. Zia attempted to forge an alliance with Muslim clerics in support of his views by offering them positions as magistrates. This placed people with no prior legal or judicial qualifications, but with religious backgrounds, in the seats of judges. The move damaged the integrity of the Pakistani judiciary and also tied its power directly to the state and Zia. Therefore, the idea of due process was lost, along with civil and political liberties that had been allowed under the constitution before Zia. These included freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and freedom of speech.
In the "Islamization programs," minorities' rights were further restricted. Islamic courts were given wide powers to interpret Muslim Personal Laws. In 1979, a bill known as the "Hudood Ordinances" was enacted, making the penal system harsher. These ordinances criminalized adultery, fornication and rape and prescribed cruel and inhuman punishments and even discrimination on the basis of gender. For the most part, non-Muslims were not exempted from the application of this new law. On April 26, 1984, Ordinance XX was enforced, imposing severe penalties on a minority Muslim group called the Ahmediya, whose Islamic status is denied under Pakistani law. The Ahmediya were prohibited from practicing or proselytizing their faith. Many international sources voiced concern about minority rights in Pakistan after the government declared the Ahmediyas "heretics."
Although the Sharia Act stipulates that minorities may practice their religion and that Sharia will not constrain non-Muslims' activities, in practice, non-Muslims endure economic and political discrimination with no legal recourse.39 Shiite and Ahmadi Muslims appear to be at a disadvantage. They are not immune to discrimination in this predominantly Sunni nation. 40 As will also be seen in the case of the Sudan and in contrast to the Algerian lslamist movements, the regime in Pakistan used Islam to curtail rather than expand the benefits of democracy. 41
In contrast, the Sudan has seen a quick transition from an autocratic system to a democratic-based system and back to an autocratic regime in a period of twenty years. In 1%9, Jafar Nimeiri came to power via a military coup. However, it was not until 1983 that Nimeiri decided to implement Islamic law in the Sudan. When Sudanese people began to reject Nimeiri's "Islamization programs," he imposed martial law, effectively suspending all constitutional freedoms, much as Zia had done in Pakistan. The state of emergency helped rid Nimeiri of the political obstacles in the way of his "Islamization programs" and also prolonged his stay in power-at least temporarily. Although the state of emergency was lifted in 1984, the Sudanese people grew tired of Nimeiri's "lslamization programs," overthrew him in 1985, and brought to power a civilian government looking to replace Islamic law with democratic law.
In June 1986, Sadiq Al Mahdi formed a coalition government with the Umma party, the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), the National Islamic Front (NIF), and four southern parties. In Jess than a year, Sadiq Al Mahdi dismissed the government because it had failed to offer a new penal code to replace the Sharia, to conclude an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to terminate the civil war in the south, or to design a plan to attract remittances from Sudanese expatriates.42 Between 1987 and 1989, several coalition governments appeared and quickly disintegrated because of political disagreements among their members. On March 11, 1989, Sadiq Al Mahdi dissolved the government amid further political bickering and promised to "mobilize government resources to bring food relief to famine areas, reduce the government's international debt, and build a national political consensus,"43
Sadiq's inability to fulfill these promises led to his downfall. On June 30, 1989, Colonel Umar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir overthrew Sadiq and established the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation to rule Sudan (RCC-NS). 44 Bashir, who also served as prime minister, minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, banned all political parties, arrested many dissidents, and closed down most newspapers. Members of the RCC-NS supported these political restrictions on the grounds that Western-style democracy was too disruptive for Sudan.45 Since then, the Bashir government has systematically engaged in human-rights abuses against dissidents. 46 The Bashir regime has instituted programs of censorship, has detained opposition leaders and human-rights activists, and has dissolved competing political parties. As in the case of Pakistan, these repressive abrogations of human rights were seen as necessary in order to consolidate power.47
The cases of Pakistan and the Sudan both show the initial effects of replacing secular law with traditional Islamic Jaw. While we have given just a brief overview of the activity in these two countries, it is enough to demonstrate the effect of two ''Islamization programs" on human rights and democratic ideals. Both counties saw their leaders use ''Islamization programs'' to justify the repeal of many civil and political rights. Even though the "lslamization programs" of both leaders were widely unpopular, the government resorted to persecution to maintain Islamization.
THE ISLAMIC STATE: IRAN
Iran is one of the very few theocracies in the world today. The Islamic government came to power in 1979 when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (known as the shah) was overthrown and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran. Khomeini had been for some time a symbol of opposition to the shah. His regime was becoming more and more unpopular, due both to the government's use of the military to repress its critics and to its use of Islam as a way to transfer populist support to movements based on secular principles. After the ayatollah gained power, he began a "program of Islamization'' that culminated in the implementation of an Islamic constitution. Simultaneously, Khomeini purged the government of secularists, replaced them with Islamists, and took over the media, all of which fully consolidated his power.48
One expert wrote that the presence of a constitution did not necessarily mean that Iranian citizens' rights would be protected under the Jaw. The Islamic groups in power used Islam to legitimize their version of human-rights protection. In the Iranian constitution, the protection of rights is laid out in a fashion similar to most constitutions. However, each right is qualified by the statement that the right can be exercised only within Islamic standards. That is to say, rights can be restricted-and in fact some are-in the name of Islamization. For instance, Article 21 of the Iranian Constitution states, "(t]he Government shall guarantee the rights of women in all areas according to Islamic standards."49 However, conventional usage of Islamic standards toward women relegates them to a lower status and thus is contrary to the internationally recognized norms. Article 24 states, "(publications and the press may express ideas freely, except when they are contrary to Islamic principles, or are detrimental to public rights. The law will provide the details."50 As the law was practiced by religious clerics close to the ayatollah, whenever the press did not cooperate, it was quashed by the government in the name of Islamization, thereby reinforcing the state's power over civil society.
After the death of the ayatollah, President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani promoted more temperate political orientations and actions in Iran and around the world. Rafsanjani has participated in actions that have increased his standing in the world community: helping to negotiate the release of hostages in Lebanon, condemning Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and aiding in the implementation of a ceasefire in Afghanistan. All of these indicate that Iran is taking a different tack on world issues. However, several opposition leaders around the world have been killed, and some reports point to the involvement of the Iranian government, 51 hence the difficulty in discerning the shifting and fluid policy objectives of some Islamic factions in Iran.52
RECENT EXPERIMENTS WITH DEMOCRACY: JORDAN
A recent case has arisen where the government has allowed Islamist groups to participate in elections without suffering a crisis of legitimacy. In Jordan, the government has retained its hold on power after a parliamentary election in which Islamist groups were allowed to participate. This is not to say that the Islamists were allowed to participate easily, as this participation was in fact an attempt by the government to break up the Islamic bloc in Parliament. In Jordan's first general elections in 1989, the Muslim Brotherhood, a right-wing Islamist group, won one-third of the seats in Parliament. King Hussein, concerned about a growing lslamist threat, lifted the ban on leftist parties, and spurred the formation of some twenty new parties.53 The Islamic Action Front (IAF), another Islamist party, has charged that the government has tried to muzzle the Islamic parties by banning open rallies, by prohibiting the use of mosques for political campaigning, and by transferring public employees to different districts for supporting Islamist parties. The IAF also accuses the government of harassing lslamist candidates and encouraging clergymen allied with the government to run for office. These have all been efforts to split the Islamist vote. The Supreme Court overturned the ban on political rallies, which was a major victory for the lslamists, but the ban acted as a stumbling block to the Islamists for almost a month.54 The government's actions did achieve the desired goal: the Islamist vote was split. The lslamist parties, the IAF in particular, actually won fewer seats in the 1993 parliamentary elections than in the 1989 elections. The IAF won 16 seats in the 80-seat lower house, compared to the 22 seats that the Muslim Brotherhood, the essential framework of the IAF at the time, won in general elections. Analysts blame the loss of seats partly on the laws apparently passed to block the lslamist parties, but they also blame the Islamists' lack of achievements in Parliament and the loss of protest votes that they had received in the 1989 elections. Also, the Islamist parties focused their attention on promoting their views on the Arab-Israeli peace talks, while the public was more concerned with domestic issues like unemployment and high prices.55 In fact, after the 1989 elections, five Islamists were named to cabinet positions, but they proved to be ineffective administrators and resigned soon afterwards. Hani Hourani, head of the New Jordan Research Center, stated, "[t]hey didn't do anything special or distinguished, and they didn't give us a good idea of what they meant by their slogan 'Islam is the solution.'"56
It is difficult to counter the attractiveness of Islamic groups at the grass-roots level. Islamic activists, as seen during the strikes in Algeria, are willing to give aid to society in areas where the government often has failed to do so. Similar events have occurred in Egypt, where the government is cracking down on Islamist student groups at the universities. These groups' programs have been designed to aid those students without the resources to perform well at school. Students who do not have the expensive textbooks that their professors have written or who cannot afford the private, though illegal, tutorials given by professors do not fare well. The Islamic groups give photocopies of the texts to students, help them find their way around campus, and help them to navigate the ever-present bureaucracy. In this way, Islamists are able to recruit and entice new followers and to make their movement stronger.57
DEMOCRACY'S FUTURE WITH ISLAM
The three sets of cases described above have shown that Islamist movements have gained momentum in the last ten to fifteen years. It is disturbing that, in four countries with major Islamic movements, groups in only one country, Algeria, claimed to value democratic ideals and the protection of human rights. The other countries either restricted or stifled human rights, at least those widely accepted as universally binding, in order to maintain the power of the government in every facet of daily life, and they used Islam as the means to do so. James C. N. Paul, who examines the recent demands for democratization of the constitutional orders in Algeria, Pakistan and Tunisia, is optimistic about the prospects for Islamic states achieving human rights.
He states, however, that
[t]he problem in many (Islamic] states may be not so much with Islam as a religion (for it is difficult to believe that a religion, in itself, can be hostile to universal rights), but with those who interpret and apply it to politics and law-the religious establishment built around Islam. . . . Much may depend on the future position, outlook and power of the ulama and traditional community religious leaders, and the educational institutions which reproduce them: specifically, whether they can be brought to terms with human-rights principles.58
However, with the increasing grass-roots popularity of lslamist groups, it is both impossible and undesirable to shut Islamist groups out of the political system. The problem lies in reconciling Islam with democracy, at least democracy according to Western standards. Some have expressed serious concerns regarding such reconciliation: "[t]he pursuit of Islamization in Iran, Pakistan and the Sudan coincided with the emergence of distinctive patterns of human-rights violations."59
The examples cited above show the loopholes used by some orthodox factions within the Islamic governments to restrict certain human rights in the name of protecting Islamic principles. Obligations under Sharia require women to be segregated from men and veiled at all times so as not to sexually stimulate the males in society.60 Nikki R. Keddie, a prominent historian, finds that the Quranic provisions for women's rights have been selectively followed in several instances connected with the issues of patriarchal tribal practices, rules of inheritance, veiling, seclusion, divorce and polygamy. The mere existence of such provisions has in practice meant no assurance of their actual realization. 61 Some argue that when clerics are in judicial positions, the concept of due process is ignored. Trials are usually summary, and harsh punishments are laid out in the Sharia. Furthermore, although many Islamic countries have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they are not charged by international law to follow them and thus they do not.
These instances, however, do not fully answer the question of whether or not democracy and Islam can be reconciled. If one looks at the Algerian case, it would seem that with some evolution the two can intersect. Using the definition of democracy provided at the beginning of this study, it can be said that the FIS victory was fully democratic. The fact that fifty parties participated is real evidence of pluralism, although other parties were largely powerless. The FIS also promised to maintain democratic ideals when in power. It is movements like this that should be used by the West to experiment with the possibility of assisting the evolution of a government that is both Islamic and democratic. The West must support moderate forces in the Islamic world without compromising democratic standards of human rights and nonviolence. Without such an orientation, the West appears hypocritical to young, active Islamists who have every reason to believe that a double standard is at work. 62 It is only in the instance of popularly elected Islamist groups that democracy has a chance, but these opportunities come few and far between. Most radical groups hope to place full Sharia law in effect without regard for certain universal standards of human rights.
When one probes deeper into the world's religions, it becomes evident that some religious values can mesh with universal human rights and democratic measures. Broadly speaking, all religions of the world have some precepts that are compatible with democracy and individual rights and some that are not.63 Egalitarianism, charitable obligations, personal responsibility, and collective moral standards are elements that are consistent with the realization of human rights and the enhancement of democratic norms. By contrast, many religious doctrines inhibit the exercise of certain human rights and the effective functioning of democracy. These include the acceptance of the social hierarchy in both orthodox Christianity and Judaism, limits on apostasy and gender inequality in traditional Islamic countries, the consensual not adversarial-governing patterns in Confucianist societies, the perceived inherent incapacity of women to attain enlightenment and nirvana (void) under some traditional Asian versions of Buddhism (Theravada), and the submissive attitudes required of women under Hinduism. These all bear witness to the incongruities at play. The essential question, therefore, concerns the reconciliation of religious precepts with the upsurge in demands for the protection of human rights. How does one attempt to harmonize religious morals with the dicta of modem society? Some common ground seems to be both logical and possible. In reality, writes Ann Elizabeth Mayer, one cannot foretell the position that a person will adopt concerning a human-rights problem solely on the basis of the person's religious affiliation-and this is true of members of all faiths.64 The relationship of religion to the protection of human rights and the adoption of democratic reforms is very complicated. The topic needs further, more detailed inquiry.
I. William Zartman offers five possible measures to ensure that democracy is maintained with Islamic groups in power. The first is to create legal provisions that would make Islam the national religion, but ban religious parties so as to even out the competition in elections. The second is to develop a credible opposition to the lslamists, again to increase competition, but to also check the power of the Islamic groups. Third is to use an electoral system of proportional representation to ensure pluralism and the protection of minorities in the system. The fourth is to delay political democracy until the institutions that can support it are in place. Last is to allow the party that wins free elections to take power and learn democracy on the job.65 We tend to agree that these five steps offer the best model for popular Islamic democracies to flourish in a fair power-sharing context. It will be, as is evidenced in the case of Algeria, impossible to fully stifle Islamic groups. Rather, it will be imperative to allow them into the political systems on the terms of the ruling party. Otherwise the government will face permanent political instability. It is only with the participation of the different Islamic groups that these countries could have a semblance of democracy, relatively speaking or otherwise.
The gap between rhetoric and reality in Muslim countries reflects the chasm between the prescriptive-normative values of Islam and the empirical-legal order and institutions in place in some Muslim nations. Traditional "lslamization schemes," combined with the ambiguities associated with the Sharia, cloud the relations between state and individual rights. In the absence of any definitive interpretation of the Sharia by Islamic sources, judgments regarding the proper scope of human rights remain situation-specific.
The concept of rights under Sharia is different from, but not irreversibly incompatible with, Western standards. While Islamic countries see rights as contingent entitlements and secondary to the welfare of the community or society, Western nations view rights as inherent and consider the rights of the individual to supersede the rights of the state or society. Because of this divergence, it is impossible to implement human-rights strategies without the two cultures being cognizant of each other. A moderate-relativist approach might be a practical solution for this. If a common denominator can be found, the foundation will then be laid for the evolution of policies in the Islamic states.
If, however, the West continues to act in anti-Islamic fashion, this common ground will never be reached. The West needs to concede that its ideals may not be desirable or practical in Islamic states. The West needs to be more aware of cultural differences in order to reach a useful understanding of Islamic culture. It is hoped in Western circles that gently nudging the Arab world could lead to a gradual move towards more democratic means of government. The West must realize that some countries in the Middle East (Jordan) have made slow but steady progress toward democratization. The West must encourage those governments that have shown a willingness to promote democratic measures. It will be both prudent and pragmatic for the West to adhere to this approach; otherwise democracy will face formidable setbacks in the Islamic world.66
Arguing that the perception of a global Islamic threat leads to the tolerance of repressive governments in the Muslim world, Esposito points to a self-fulfilling prophecy:
Thwarting participatory politics by canceling elections or repressing populist Islamic movements fosters radicalization. Many of the Islamists harassed, imprisoned or tortured by the regime, will conclude that seeking democracy is a dead end and become convinced that force is their only recourse. Official silence or economic and political backing for regimes by the United States and other Western powers is read as complicity and a sign that there is a double standard for the implementation of democracy. This can create the conditions that lead to political violence that seemingly validates contentions that Islamic movements are inherently violent, antidemocratic and a threat to national and regional stability.67
Increasingly, the promises given to Muslim groups during the elections of the late eighties were not fulfilled when the Islamists actually won the power. As was seen in the Jordanian case, the lslamists were unable to show what the slogan "Islam is the solution" truly meant. The Islamists have taken on an impossible task as they approach complex socioeconomic and political problems while using Islam as the overall solution.68 One major problem is poverty; unless the Islamists can substantially restructure the economy of their respective nations, they will not be seen as successful. Religious rhetoric will not put food on the table. The rigid class structure and the adverse sociopolitical conditions of many of these nations are also stumbling blocks for the Islamist parties.
The West should play a constructive role in aiding these countries to rectify the pathetic human-rights situations of the lslamist or secular governments. A growing number of scholars have argued, and justifiably so, that lslamists and human-rights groups indeed share similar intellectual ground: they both call for the denunciation of arbitrary government, the condemnation of government corruption, the promotion of governmental accountability, and the preservation of the rule of law.69 Human-rights conditions in these countries will not improve unless the governments are able to rule effectively and without fear of crises of legitimacy and participation.
Finally, it can be argued, albeit from a different perspective, that the Islamic countries' situation is typical of the rest of Third World countries with social and structural handicaps. Imposing Western-style measures on these countries will not spur economic prosperity or improvements in human rights. An abrupt democratization may not serve as an immediate solution for the socio-economic ills of these societies.
Gradual and deliberate economic and political liberalization programs, if applied in tandem and incrementally, could in the long run prepare these societies for a sustainable transition toward democracy. After all, economic liberalization is not generally incompatible with the basic Islamic tenets. The setbacks caused by the failure of a swift process of democratization could immensely complicate the expansion of civil society in the Islamic countries. Islamic culture is not inherently inhospitable to democracy, and external support for democracy in the Middle East needs to be nuanced so as to pressure Muslim countries toward a process of gradual-not fast-track-reform. Rapid democratization will in the short run prove to be uncertain at best or destabilizing at worst.70
1 R. Panikkar, "Is the Notion of Human Rights a Western Concept?" Diogenes, no. 120, Winter 1982, pp. 75-102; see p. 100.
2 Ibid., p. 101.
3 Charles Antjad-Ali, "Democratization in the Middle East from an Islamic Perspective," in Elise Boulding, ed., Building Peace in the Middle East: Challenges for States and Civil Society (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1994), pp. 69-77; see p. 76. Antjad-Ali writes that many factors obscure the proper comprehension of the question of democracy in an Islamic context. One such factor, among others, he notes, is the "confusion Western history has made between the proper institutional separation of church and state and its improper ontological extension to the separation of religion and politics. Officially, Islam has never had an institution like the church and a priestly class, so the separation of church and state makes no sense. Neither does the transference of the theocratic state, which was based on the power of the church and the priestly class. The separation of religion and politics makes no sense in an Islamic context, which has a hard theological and philosophical commitment to keeping the two together in order to provide the ethical and moral parameter to the political order and to show the relevance of religion in its ability to be translated in the political order." (p. 76)
5 Fatima Mernissi, Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World (Boston: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1992), pp. 57-59.
6 Harvard professor of government Samuel P. Huntington has offered a paradigm known as "the clash of civilizations." Huntington maintains that Islamic and Western ideals and actions are in conflict and cannot be brought into harmony. The present and future fault lines around the world can be drawn between different civilizations. As such, a Confucian-Islamic connection has emerged to challenge Western interests, values and powers. See "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 3, Summer 1993, pp. 22-49. Edward W. Said, professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, refutes such a view, arguing that "(t]his, of course, assumes that the West and Islam are watertight categories, identities to which every Westerner and every Muslim must choose allegiance. The fact is that neither Islam nor its alleged opposite is homogenous or all-inclusive. Diversity is a reality that has to be acknowledged." See "The Phony Islamic Threat," The New York Times Magazine, November 21, 1993, pp. 62-65; see p. 62.
7 Samuel Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), p. 7.
8 On the Heldian view of democracy, see Georg Sorensen, Democracy and Democratization: Processes and Prospects in a Changing World (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993), pp. 10-l l.
9 Ibid., pp. 7-15.
10 See Robin Wright, "Islam, Democracy and the West" in Foreign Affairs, vol. 71, no. 3, Summer 1992, pp. 131-145. Wright draws a distinction between fundamentalists and Islamists: "The various Islamic movements are often called 'fundamentalists' in the West, but most are in fact not fundamentalist in their agendas. Fundamentalism generally urges passive adherence to literal reading of scriptures and does not advocate change of the social order, instead focusing on reforming the lives of the individual and family. Most of today's Islamic movements resemble Catholic Liberation theologians who urge active use of original religious doctrine to better the temporal and political lives in a modem world. Islamist or Islamism more accurately describes their forward looking, interpretive and often even innovative attempts to reconstruct the social order."
11 Kevin Dwyer, an anthropologist who has traveled to several Middle Eastern countries (Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia), writes that the notion of ''human rights" cannot be discarded as an illegitimate concept in the political parlance of the Middle East. Nonetheless, the complexity inherent in the notion requires that we put it in the context of the local, national and regional history and culture. Kevin Dwyer, Arab Voices: The Human Rights in the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); see p. 3.
12 Ann Mayer, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991), pp. 49--50.
13 John L. Esposito, Islam and Politics (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1991), 3rd ed., p. 285.
14 Amyn B. Sajoo, "Islam and Human Rights: Congruence or Dichotomy?" Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, vol. 4, 1990, pp. 23--34.
16 Wright, op. cit., pp. 131-132.
18 Hasan Turabi, lecture summarized by Louis J. Cantori and Arthur Lowrie, "Islam, Democracy, the State and the West," Middle East Policy, vol. I, no. 3, 1992, pp. 49-61; see p. 50.
19 John L. Esposito and James P. Piscatori, "Democracy and Islam," Middle East Journal, vol. 45, no. 3, Summer 1991, pp. 428-429.
20 Sajoo, op. cit., pp. 24-25.
21 Abdullahi Ahmed An-Nairn, "Toward a Cross-cultural Approach to Defining International Standards of Human Rights," in Abdullahi Ahmed An-Nairn, ed., Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspectives: A Quest for Consensus (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991), p. 21.
22 Alison Dundes Renteln, International Human Rights: Universalism Versus Relativism (Newbury Park. CA: Sage Publications, 1990), p. 81.
23 John P. Entelis and Lisa J. Arone, "Algeria in Turmoil: Islam, Democracy and the State," Middle East Policy, vol. I, no. 2, Spring 1992, pp. 23-35; see p. 24.
24 Wright, op. cit., p. 134.
25 Entelis and Arone, op. cit., p. 26.
26 Michael C. Hudson, "After the Gulf War: Prospects for Democratization in the Arab World," Middle East Journal, vol. 45, no. 3, Summer 1991, pp. 407-426; see p. 416.
27 Wright, op. cit., pp. 134-135.
28 Ibid., p. 135.
30 Howard LaFranchi, "Algeria Buys Some Time as Hostage Crisis Ends," The Christian Science Monitor, November 3, 1993, p. 3.
31 The Christian Science Monitor, February 4, 1994, p. 6.
33 Lara Marlowe, "Algeria: Faith's Fearsome Sword," Time, vol. 143, no. 6, February 7, 1994, pp. 48--49; see p. 49.
34 The Christian Science Monitor, January 5, 1994, pp. 1 and 18.
35 The New York Times, February 6, 1994, p. E5.
36 Huntington, op. cit., p. 86.
37 Wright, op. cit., p. 137.
38 Michael Collins Dunn, "Revivalist Islam and Democracy: Thinking about the Algerian Quandary," Middle East Policy, vol. 1, no. 2, 1992, pp. 16-22; see p. 16.
39 See The Christian Science Monitor, January 5, 1994, p. 23.
40 R. Bruce McColm, et. al., Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties /992-/993 (New York: Freedom House, 1993), p. 400.
41 Mayer, op. cit., pp. 34-43.
42 Thomas Ofcansky, "Historical Setting: Sudan," in Helen Chapin Metz, ed. Sudan: A Country Study (Washington, DC: Dept. of the Army, 1992), pp. 1-53; see p. 51.
43 Ibid., p. 53.
45 Eric Hooglund, "Government and Politics," in Helen Chapin Metz, ed., Sudan: A Country Study (Washington, DC: Dept. of the Army, 1992), pp. 197-228; see p. 197.
46 Ibid., p. 21 I.
47 Mayer, op. cit., pp. 34-43.
48 Esposito, op. cit., pp. 187-212.
49 Mayer, op. cit., p. 81.
51 Thomas Sanction, et.al., "Terrorism: The Tehran Connection," Time, March 21, 1994, pp. 50-55.
52 Gary Sick, "The Two Faces of lran-Rafsartjani's Moderation and Mullah's Holy Terror," Manchester Guardian Weekly, vol. 148, no. 19, May 9, 1993, pp. 18-19.
53 Lamis Andoni, "Jordan's First Party Vote Pits Tribes Against Leftists," The Christian Science Monitor, November 8, 1993, p. 2.
54 Lamis Andoni, "Jordan Islamists Struggle to Keep Legislative Bloc," The Christian Science Monitor, November 2, 1993, p. 6.
55 Peter Ford, "Jordanian Vote Marks a Victory for the King and the Peace Process," The Christian Science Monitor, November 10, 1993, p. 3.
56 Peter Ford, "Jordan's Democracy: Is It a Model For Region?" The Christian Science Monitor, November 12, 1993, pp. 1-4.
57 Chris Hedges, "Egypt Cracking Down on Islamic Student Groups," The New York Times, November 28, 1993, p. SY.
58 James C.N. Paul, "Islam and the State: The Problems of Establishing Legitimacy and Human Rights," Cardozo Law Review, vol. 12, February/ March 1991, pp. 1057-1071; see p. 1070.
59 Mayer , op. cit., p. 35.
60 Ibid., p. 69.
61 Nikki R. Keddie, "The Rights of Women in Contemporary Islam," in Leroy S. Rounder, ed., Human Rights and the World's Religions (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), pp. 76-93; see p. 82.
62 The Christian Science Monitor, April 28, 1993, p. 20.
63 For a comparative analysis on this subject, see Arlene Swidler, Human Rights in Religious Traditions (New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1982).
64 Mayer, op. cit., p. xi.
65 I. William Zartman, "Democracy and Islam: The Cultural Dialectic," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 524, November 1992, pp. 181-191; see pp. 189-190.
66 Many Middle East specialists argue that the West must apply the principles of democratization equitably and consistently around the world. Graham Fuller writes that "[i]f there is no liberalization [and democratization] because of our fear of Islam, then we will simply build towards greater political explosion with worse consequences for all. . . . There has to be a better way for politics to be conducted in the Middle East, and Muslims know it. After all, they have been the chief victims in the past." See Graham Fuller, "A Phased Introduction of Islamists,'' in Yehudah Mirsky and Matt Ahrens, eds., Democracy in the Middle East: Defining the Challenge (Washington, DC: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1993), pp. 21-29; see p. 29.
67 John L. Esposito, "Political Islam: Beyond the Green Menace," Current History, vol. 93, no. 579, January 1994, pp. 19-24; see p. 23.
68 Hasan Turabi, a leading theorist of the contemporary Islamic revival, argues that Islam is now a viable alternative to nationalism: " ... today if you want to assert indigenous values, originality and independence against the West then Islam is the only doctrine.'' See Hasan Turabi, "Islam, Democracy, the State and the West," Middle East Policy, vol. 1, no. 3, 1992, pp. 4 1; see p. 52.
69 See Jill Crystal, "Authoritarianism and Its Adversaries in the Arab World," World Politics, vol. 46, no. 2, January 1994, pp. 262-289; sec especially pp. 285-287. Also sec Kevin Dwyer, Arab Voices: The Human Rights Debate in the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).
70 For such a view, see Joshua Muravchik, "Exporting Democracy to the Arab World," in Yehudah Mirsky and Matt Aherns, Democracy in the Middle East: Defining the Challenge (Washington, DC: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1993), pp. 1-9; see p. 8.