As the Gallup World Poll, the largest and most systematic poll of the Muslim world, which represents the voices of a billion Muslims, has demonstrated, majorities in most countries, including Egypt, want democratic freedoms. The arrest and continued detention of Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fattouh symbolizes a long-standing problem for which governments in the region and the West bear primary responsibility. It also underscores the need to engage moderate (non-violent) political Islam -- to engage the world as it is, especially the cry for justice in response to Arab authoritarianism, which, if ignored, legitimizes extremists groups. It is time for the Obama administration and the global community to work together to hear the voices of Muslim citizens and live up to their principles.
This article was first published on July 31, 2009, in On Faith, an online conversation on religion in the Washington Post and Newsweek.com. (c) Copyright 2009, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. All rights Reserved. Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.
John L. Esposito is professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University, founding director of its Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding, and author of What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam and Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam.