"Democracy 25 percent" - a chance for the Islamic world?



The current turbulent Arab Spring, which was a surprise to most of the world's politicians and analysts, posed many more questions than it gave answers, although it roughly outlined them.


Actually, the question is, will the Arab (and broader - Muslim) world become an area of ​​progressive development, not only economic, but also socio-political. The latter is now associated in the world with democracy and civil society, despite the fact that a number of authoritarian regimes of the Far East achieved self-evident successes on the paths of social modernization. But effective authoritarianism is possible, obviously, only where there is a certain mentality - Confucian or Buddhist. Or at least such a historically transformed Islam, as in Indonesia.

However, it should be borne in mind that one way or another, the Arab “street”, not to mention the overwhelming majority of the educated strata, seeks democracy, seeing in it an almost fabulous salvation from political injustice and economic deprivation. And in the Muslim world over the past decade, the number of those for whom freedom of speech and freedom of cultural expression — very weighty values ​​— has grown even more important than satiety and stability has grown significantly.

Watch a movie - see a revolution

Truth be told, the Arab Spring could have been predicted if one paid attention to the dramatic changes that occurred in the cinema of the Middle East. In January, the Egyptian independent newspaper Al Masry Al youm published a list of the best films made in Arab countries in 2010. In terms of themes and style, this is not at all the kind of cinema that we know from Soviet times. In particular, the tape “Those Forgotten” (The Forgotten Ones, Morocco), telling about the problem of illegal immigration to Europe, was marked by a large number of prestigious awards around the world.

The Lebanese film “Here It Rains” (Here Comes the Rain) explores the aftermath of the Lebanese war. The Egyptian picture “Microphone” (Microphone) is full of music, but not the one you thought of, but original musical performances in the style of hip-hop and metallic. It is peculiar история alternative culture, where there are Alexandrian youth rock bands.

Needless to say, that not so long ago no one decided to shoot such pictures in principle. Now they have their own mass viewer. The one for which the framework of traditional Islamic culture and authoritarian power today, apparently, is too close.

Does it mean that the Arab countries, where the revolutionary events took place and are continuing now, are ripe for deep modernization and democratic organization? By no means. Since in the same revolutionary Egypt 8 of March of this year, three hundred Muslim women with traditional feminist slogans appeared on the already famous Cairo square of Tahrir. No extravagance, only real socio-economic and legal gender equality. And these women were beaten and scattered not by the “anti-people regime” police, but by bearded revolutionaries. (The police stood by and watched what was happening ...) So, when US President Barack Obama uttered his sacramental phrase “the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people,” it was both an abstractly correct and completely empty maxim. After all, according to a poll by the International Sociological Center Pew Research, conducted in December of that year, in Egypt 82% of local Muslims consider it fair to throw stones at women for adultery, 77% of respondents approve of cutting their wrists for theft, 84% is the death penalty for switching from Islam another faith. Only 27% of Muslims - Egyptian citizens call themselves supporters of modernization, and 59% - fundamentalists. So what will be the power in the country, chosen on the basis of fair democratic elections? And will the Egyptian rockers be able to play their music after this, and will the directors shoot psychological dramas on socially significant topics?

Caution: Sociology testifies

It is worth mentioning here that almost all previous attempts to introduce European-style democracy in Islamic countries did not have positive results. Even in Turkey, where, it would seem, after the large-scale modernization reforms of Ataturk-Inon, a new state was established, the army - the guarantor of modernization - gave power to the hands, although moderate, but to Islamists. This led to a reverse movement of the processes of social and political life (including the introduction of such electoral legislation, which almost does not automatically leave Islamists in power, and deprives many voters of parliamentary representation). Moreover, from 2002 to 2010 years, according to the already mentioned Pew Research center, the number of those who state the significant role of Islam in the political life of the country increased from 45% to 69% of Muslim citizens surveyed. And this is despite the fact that 45% of respondents positively estimate this, and 38% relate to this negatively ...

At the same time, data from sociology and the latest revolutionary speeches indicate that the majority of the population of Arab and generally Islamic countries are committed to democracy. Perhaps, not very well understanding what it is, but seeks.

There is a paradox, which, however, was enough in recent history. To try to find at least his theoretical solution, we turn to other data from a survey conducted in Islamic countries six months ago by Pew Research. At the same time, taking into account their specificity, Turkey and Lebanon will be left out of the scope of this consideration (since, say, the well-known Islamist terrorist groups throughout the world enjoy the favor of only a few percent of Turks, and at the same time 10% of Lebanese Christians). But in a more or less “standard” Islamic country, the number of supporters of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al-Qaida ranges from 55% to 30% of respondents. And this once again shows who will be democratically elected to the parliaments of these states in the event of free elections and who will then establish “people's” power there, following the pattern perpetrated by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with the physical destruction of all real and potential opponents. These data correlate with data on public attitudes in the field of gender equality, and this, as is known, is one of the main indicators of the development of society. I note that both men and women participated in the survey, and sociologists note that their responses were very close. So, they support gender segregation in the workplace: 85% of Pakistanis (and this is despite the fact that Benazir Bhutto was one of the most popular political figures in the country), 54% of Egyptians, 50% of Jordanians (and attaches the people's favorite queen, Rania Al-Abdullah), 49% Nigerians, 38% Indonesians and only 13% Turks and 11% Muslim Lebanese. Likewise with throwing stones for adultery - this Sharia rule is supported by 16% Turks and 23% Lebanese (we have one more reason to put these countries out of the brackets), but at the same time 82% Pakistanis and Egyptians (I recall, interviewed both men and women however, the practice of stoning applies almost exclusively to women), 70% Jordanians, 56% Nigerians and 42% Indonesians.

And what about religious freedoms, without which real democracy is impossible? Very simple. Again, Turkey and Lebanon are behind the brackets, there are several percent of the fanatics of Islam. (More proof that the so-called flotilla of peace was a provocation perpetrated by Turkish Islamists and European left-wing idiots not so much against Israel as against the foundations of the existence of the Turkish Republic; Hezbollah in Lebanon is not an organically-local, but an external, Iranian Syrian political project. But in other countries the number of respondents who believe that people who have changed their faith from Islam to another deserve the death penalty, reaches in: Egypt - 82%, Jordan - 84%, Pakistan - 76%, Nigeria - 51%, Indonesia - 30% (not otherwise, to How the influence of Buddhism ...). And what kind of democracy can be built with such sentiments?


This is despite the fact that in Pakistan only 28% of respondents called themselves fundamentalists, in Indonesia - 33%, in Nigeria - 58%, in Egypt - 59%, in Jordan - 38%. Interestingly, in Turkey, Lebanon, Indonesia and Nigeria, the number of those who consider themselves to be fundamentalists roughly correlates with indicators that substantively reveal this concept (the death penalty is for quitting Islam and attitudes towards women). But in Egypt and Jordan a considerable number of "modernizers" of reality adheres to radical Islamist views. Moreover: let's say, in the same Jordan, up to 69,% of the respondents consider: democracy is the best of all methods of governance; 66% Nigerian Muslims, 59% Egyptians, 65% Nigerians and 42% Pakistanis have the same opinion; however, the opponents of democracy in this country are only 15%. In addition, researchers have fixed a thing inherent not only to the Arab world: direct proportionality between the level of education and attitude to democracy (the higher the level of education - the higher the estimate of democracy compared to other types of government).

Chance to take

Therefore, we again return to the “quadrature of the circle”: a fact is the desire of the majority of countries of the Arab East and the entire Muslim world to democracy, while the realization of universal suffrage (which today, according to Western politicians, is almost the main democratic principles) the establishment of totalitarian Islamist regimes where before this power belonged to authoritarian rulers, where “Muslim apostates” were subjected to appropriate mass repressions and or terrorist acts against the "Westerners".

And yet there seems to be a way out. He concludes in the introduction, relatively speaking, of “democracy 25 percent”, when those 20-30% of the population of a particular country (depending on the situation in it) who do not adhere to fundamentalist, all the more radical Islamist (or, if without politically correct euphemisms, frankly neo-Nazi) views. After all, Western democracy was not always nearly as vast as it is today; there was a whole system of qualifications, which in historical perspective and made it possible to implement a full-fledged democracy. Thus, in the ultraliberal Netherlands model of 1800, the electorate included only 12% of the adult population, in 1890, this figure rose to 27%, in 1900, to 63%. Universal suffrage for men here was introduced only in 1917 year, for women - 1919. In Britain, voters in 1830 accounted for just 4% of the adult population, in France - less than 2%. It was only in the first quarter of the twentieth century that universal suffrage became the property of most Western countries. For the first time, women received voting rights in 1893 in New Zealand, and in Europe - 1906 in Finland. For example, in the United States for a long time only taxpayers had the right to vote throughout the country; citizens with middle and low incomes had a choice - to pay taxes and be full participants in political life or to have a slightly higher standard of living, but at the expense of not participating in solving state problems; this qualification was canceled only in 1964. As Alexander Herzen rightly noted, it is impossible to free a person from the outside more than he is free from the inside ...

What should be the specific mechanism to ensure “democracy 25 percent” is another topic; it is clear only that we are talking about things that are not simple and not very popular in the Arab "street", since the absolute majority of them will not receive the levers of power. The main thing here is to create mechanisms for the rotation of power elites and the free exchange of ideas, which is not the case in authoritarian systems, and in addition - the general law and order, at least minimal prosperity for the masses and lower than now, the level of corruption of lower power structures. This will pave the way for gradual and effective reforms, which, in the end, will establish the foundations of real democracy in the Islamic world.
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