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Islam and Democracy, Rather Than Islam or Democracy?
By Nadia Sulayman

Response to Sun-Times' "Bush Hails Freedoms, but Experts See Confusion and Trouble"

The article “Bush Hails Freedoms, but Experts See Confusion and Trouble” in the August 30, 2005 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times by Anne Gearan illustrates confusion with Iraq’s new constitution on the subject on Islam and democracy coexisting. The article, with a sub-heading entitled Islam or democracy? insinuates that the two cannot exist together.

Perhaps through our Western eyes it is hard to imagine how a theological based government can coexist with democracy, but with a little shift in lens and research the idea is not hard to fathom. For example, is the United States Constitution not based on religious ideals? We have laws against stealing, adultery, and murder to name a few. Religious discourse is discussed in politics, regardless of the separation of church and state because often times religious sin is also a crime against humanity.

Islam is a legal based religion which dictates almost every aspect of a Muslim’s life. With over 90% of the country being Muslim it is not absurd that the government is choosing to place Islam as the primary source of law. An Islamic government can be democratic if applied correctly. It may not live up to what Americans view as democratic, but a government chosen by its people and social equality has no objection under Islam. Also in an Islamic state, everyone, regardless of religious belief or ethnicity, should be given equal rights and the right to practice his/her own religion. In its earliest stages, without any specific evidence of undemocratic laws in Iraq’s new constitution, a constitution consisting of Islamic ideals does not mean it is a contradiction to democracy.

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