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Turning Democracy into A Dirty Word; Is Bush's Democracy "Crusade" Incompatible With Islam

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Message Mohamed Al-Azaki
Yemen or Iraq: Brave, Young Mujaheddin instead of Democrats

SANA'A, YEMEN -- The last three years have not been easy for anyone, Mr. Osama bin Laden NOT included, who hoped that the Iraqi war would produce a decent, democratizing outcome.

And even in the wake of the remarkable elections in Iraq, Americans continue to fall for their political explosion of their fears of terrorism while the fake reforms brewing in Middle East, it is too soon for Mr. Bush to declare victory.

In fact, while most western observers forget the first Bush administration project announced towards the Arab and Muslim world immediately after 9/11. But most Islamist youths remember it.

The Bush's first project was announced after launching the "war on terrorism" by the United States. The religious word "Crusade" slipped from George Bush's mouth as a harsh reaction against terrorism.

Days later, when Bush's word "Crusade" had already been reverberating, causing ripples of shock and outrage throughout the Middle East, democracy joined President Bush's crusade as an animating principle rather late in the game.

Since then, the Arab world has seen some of the changes that are really happening gradually. Unfortunately, they are not in the interest of moderate Islamists. They are against them to turn them into secular individuals dressing a false Islam and they find themselves embarrassingly obsequious to apply anti-Islamic democracy rather than real Islam which rejects the "majority", a main principle of democracy.

Bush's plan really has succeeded to convert moderate Muslims - who believe in democracy in Islamic political parties - into pro-America secularists in Yemen, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, for instance. But the majority of brave Muslim youths early perceived this dirty trick and simultaneously rejected it, preferring to deeply hear messages that come from the head of terrorism, the killer of Bush's soldiers, Sheikh Osama bin Laden.

I wonder if the American people know that their government is dealing with some very unstable "chemicals." But what makes al-Qaeda's leaders more hopeful today -- as I think - is precisely what made them hopeful that the Iraqi war might not work out, and that is the growing number of Arab-Muslim youths after 9/11 who have urged the need for more Jihad instead of democracy and reform in their part of the world.

Of course, many Americans will be surprised by this. America has treated the Arab-Muslim countries for nearly 50 years as a collection of gas stations. All American officials cared about was that their pumps were open and Arab crude oil prices low, and that they be nice to the Israelis.

As long as the American officials did that, we said, they could do whatever they required "out back." They could treat their own women however they wanted, they could write about Muslims in their newspapers however they wanted, and they could preach democratic intolerance of their religions all they wanted - just keep their pumps open and prices low and be nice to the Israelis.

On 9/11, they got hit with everything that was going on "out back."
Since then, it's been clear to al-Qaeda that unless Western-American governments partner with Arabs and Muslims to change their context, unless those government help them create the free space for a war of ideas that will allow for a new discussion out front and out back, the US and its allies are just begging for another 9/11.

We always knew that American government had partners there, but the democratic movements that have now emerged in Arab states have shown the U.S. policy makers just how many dictatorial regimes there want to give voice to their ambitions and achieve their full potential - something their poor people and spiritual leaders have been blocking.

If you want to get a taste of what real Islam sounds like, read the holy Koran or the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, and the letters and debates from young Muslims on different Islamic Web sites such ( You will then definitely find out that Islam and democracy are really not compatible.

Democracy is essentially a western concept and ideology and therefore basically at odds with the values and principles of Islam. If it is true, then the Muslim world, consisting of 50 countries populated by more than 1.4 billion people, is doomed to dictatorship and oppression.

Democracy is based on the principle of considering the position of the majority and adopting what is agreed upon by the majority, even if they agree upon falsehood, error, and blatant heresy.

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Mohamed Al-Azaki, a Yemeni journalist and researcher on Islamic militants at the Saba Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Sana'a, Yemen.
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