May 14, 2012

Can Islamists Be Liberals?

Mustafa Akyol, New York Times

AP Photo

For those concerned about extremism in the Middle East, this is good news. It was the exclusion and suppression of Islamists by secular tyrants that originally bred extremism. (Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s leading ideologue, was a veteran of Hosni Mubarak’s torture chambers.) Islamists will become only more moderate when they are not oppressed, and only more pragmatic as they face the responsibility of governing.

But there is another reason for concern: What if elected Islamist parties impose laws that curb individual freedoms — like banning alcohol or executing converts — all with popular support? What if democracy does not serve liberty?

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TAGGED: Egypt, Turkey, Democracy, Tunisia, Liberty, Arab Spring, Islamists, Political Islam

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