"Are Islam and Democracy Incompatible? Some Reflections from Ottoman History
By Timothy R. Furnish
Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005).
As the American occupation of Iraq has entered its fourth frustrating year, some conservative commentators have joined the Bush Administration’s detractors on the left and given in to despair about ever incubating democracy in a majority-Muslim country. In this view “our failure to establish liberty and justice for all in Iraq—namely, freedom of conscience and freedom before the law—is dueto the nature of Islamic culture, not to the efficacy of American efforts”1 [emphasis added]. A related assertion of even longer pedigree is that Israel is the only state in the region with a history of democratic practices.2 But are these two pessimistic views true?"
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