Democracy by force

Spanish journalist  Mariano Aguirre has written a new piece in OpenDemocracy.net on Michael Ignatieff (see my previous entry) with a hardhitting discussion of the problematic aspects of  American democracy promotion efforts. 

Aguirre raises some legitimate concerns about the failures of the American political system today  and whether we really are in a position to preach about democracy to other countries, much less impose our model of it on them.

He also highlights the way democracy promotion is being used to support sinister political agendas.  As Shakespeare said, the Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.

  • MMamdani

    Sorry for posting this comment here, but it needed to be said.
    In recent weeks Svend made a big deal of attacking Dr. Muqtedar Khan for resigning from PMU as a publicity stunt. He tried to deny Dr. Khan his integrity and defended PMU as a normal organizations.
    But since then, several board members, such as L. Silvers, M Knight and now 3/4 founders have resigned from PMU’s board and thier resignation letter is also “public”, let us see how Svend atatcks/rationalizes them.
    Dr. Khan, I maintain has as usual shown a farsight that far exceeds others. He led and now others follow.
    BTW, I am not Prof. Mamdani, I am a cardiologist from New Mexico.
    Bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim
    August 24, 2005
    To Whom It May Concern:
    It is with heavy hearts, but out of a deep conviction that there is no other choice at this stage, that we — Omid Safi, Hussein Ibish and Sarah Eltantawi, three of the four founding members (along with Ahmed Nassef) of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America (PMU) — hereby tender our resignations from the Board of Directors of PMU.
    We helped to form PMU in the hopes that it would develop into an umbrella organization representing a “big tent” for Muslims with a very wide variety of religious, political and social attitudes who are drawn together by a spirit of pluralism and compassion to develop and contribute a new voice to the conversation about Islam and Muslims in North America. Our intention was to create a space in which Muslims could pursue a multivalent critique of power, standing against injustice within Muslim societies, among Muslims in North America, and with regard to the foreign and domestic polici es of the governments and societies in which we live. We wanted to be as vigorous in challenging injustices in the Islamic world, and the deeply-rooted racism and sexism that lurk within our own community, as we rightly are in condemning the abuses of U.S. foreign policy and the assault on civil liberties in the United States. We also wanted to create a forum for a respectful but critical engagement with Islamic practices and clas sical and modern interpretations of Islamic doctrine, as well as how Islam has functions as a social text, especially in our own societies at the present time. We intended PMU to help to develop an independent, and spiritually and intellectually sophisticated, Islamic discourse that is distinctly North American, while remaining true to the essential teachings and values of Islam; one that responds to the challenges and context in which North American Muslims live, as opposed to discourses that are mainly derivative of ideas and agendas formed long ago and/or far away.
    The hope was that these two missions would compliment each other, and serve to give a voice to a large section of the community hitherto underrepresented. In both cases, our intention was to help to enrich, broaden and deepen the conversation in the North American Muslim community, and to unleash the power of a set of ideas that have been largely dormant among us in recent years: the Islamic values of tolerance, compassion and equity – that is to say, the spirit of justice that lies at the heart of Islam.
    Unfortunately, PMU has not developed in the direction that we had envisioned and worked to promote. We readily accept our share of the responsibility for this, and do not seek to blame or second-guess any of our former colleagues. They are entitled to develop PMU in any direction that they see fit. However we have become convinced that PMU is not a forum that will allow us to successfully pursue the agenda we envisioned at its founding, and that this is not likely to change. We believe that the vision that we outlined in the PMU mission statement and that informed the founding of PMU remains vital and urgently needed, but has yet to find a vehicle for its effective _expression. We remain committed to the values and goals of that mission statement, and we will continue to work to help develop and implement a progressive agenda for American Muslims.
    We wish PMU all the best, offer it our support and encouragement, and hope that it will to grow into a vital and important organization that represents a significant constituency among North American Muslims.
    Signed:
    Omid Safi
    Hussein Ibish
    Sarah Eltantawi


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