Future of Democracy in the Islamic World


anwar ibrahim.jpgOn Thursday afternoon, I’ll be chairing a session with former Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister and current Leader of the Opposition in the Malaysian Parliament Anwar Ibrahim, someone I greatly admire for his ongoing temerity in staring down thugs in his own government.

telhami.jpgWe will be discussing democracy in the Islamic World — and joining us will also be public opinion experts Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and Brookings Saban Center and George Washington University’s Nathan Brown.

This should be an interesting session — in part because I am skeptical that democracy per se is a natural equilibrium point for much of the Islamic world, but I have an open mind and want to hear what Ibrahim, Brown and Telhami have to say.

We’ll be running the session live here at The Washington Note on Thursday at 5 pm EST. For those of you who want to attend in DC, there is no charge but you must register here.

— Steve Clemons


9 comments on “Future of Democracy in the Islamic World

  1. Coach Outlet says:

    This is my first-time visiting here. I uncovered a lot of useful stuff within your blog especially the on-going talk. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I’m not the only one taking pleasure in reading through your blog. Keep up the excellent work


  2. Carroll says:

    “….in part because I am skeptical that democracy per se is a natural equilibrium point for much of the Islamic world, ..”..(Steve)
    Since the kind of democracy we always speak of is associated with capitalism enabling/enriching democracies or visa versa–let me suggest you read Timur Kuran (recommended by Walt) to understand Islamic influence on Arab economies. I’ve been studying his papers for several days. Explains where and why much of the Arab world got left behind economically.
    For one thing Islamic influenced government does not recognize “corporate” (corporations), everything is based on the individual.
    I can see where a melding of certain aspects of Islamic economics with democracy might produce a type of democracy that didn’t disintegrate into the kind of corporate/capitalist dominated democracies most of the world and especially the US has now.


  3. Dan Kervick says:

    Interesting Guardian article on the impact of the Egyptian revolution:


  4. DonS says:

    Just because it’s important: Jonathan Turley reports on the intolerant and destructive side of radical Islam. Read the story from Indonesia, mob destruction of churches, and clic through to the story on the Obama administration giving the green light to blasphemy prosecutions, limitations on free speech under the guise of religious freedom in Egypt. One wonders exactly where is the moral compass of this administration?
    To further remind us of the skewed priorities and moral obtuseness of the administration, check out Turley again: “In yet another slap at civil libertarians and the rule of law, the Obama Administration has promoted the CIA officer responsible for one of the most embarrassing scandals of the Bush Administration: the kidnapping and abuse of U.S. citizen Khaled el-Masri.”


  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Dan, this was a result of me – for my own petty amusement
    – doing a research on “arab street”/”autocrats” in the
    comment sections. I can assure you that certain other
    posters here were less lucky with their judgements and


  6. Dan Kervick says:

    Hmmm … What do you know? Sometimes by BS turns out true.


  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Or you may go no further than to non-expert non-think-tanker
    Dan Kervick in the comment section of The Washington Note.
    Here is from a two year old post:
    “Posted by Dan Kervick, Jan 20 2009, 11:56PM – Link
    While there are many places I could disagree with WigWag, one
    comment in particular strikes me as particularly wrong-headed:
    the one about the irrelevance of the Arab street.
    Yes the Arab street is in some sense irrelevant once again, at
    least to its autocratic leaders and to the government polices of
    the states those leaders run, just as the voices of ordinary Arabs
    have frequently been irrelevant to their leaders in the past. But
    the power of those leaders is transitory.
    For a generation, we were told to ignore the supposedly sheep-
    like Arab public, and pay attention only to their leaders: to the
    “moderate” Arab leaders; to the “modernizing” Arab leaders, to
    the “pragmatic”


  8. rc says:

    Interesting choice.
    He has done time for gay ‘crime’.
    Of course everyone is wondering: is he?
    I assume there will be a whole lot of ‘noise’ from the nadine et al crowd as a consequence.
    The obvious frame-up in Anwar Ibrahim’s case aside — it is a complex topic in the Islamic democracy context.
    Do you dare?


  9. samuelburke says:

    this seems to be the money quote from Eric Margolis
    “President Barack Obama reportedly scourged CIA for not
    predicting the revolt on the Nile. Maybe CIA did, but no one in
    the White House was listening.”
    Steve, since you and your think tank are out searching for
    wisdom on this issue may i suggest you bring on Eric Margolis
    on one of your think tank talks and debates.
    He is a hands on expert in that part of the world. I understand
    it’s necessary to hear ideas from many experts when you are
    trying to learn new information, but would it not be better to
    also include someone who actually was making the call that
    something similar to what is happening now in Egypt would
    “An impending explosion in Egypt was obvious to old Mideast
    hands like myself. Last 26 April, I wrote a column, “Eruption on
    the Nile,” predicting Mubarak


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