Monday, November 06, 2006

Thomas Friedman answers a few questions at the NYT

Q: Q. Do you have any solution to the problem of the disaffected young Islamic men who are convinced that the afterlife is better than this one and that they are doing something good for those they take with them in a suicide bombing? We clearly need a new approach beyond counterintelligence and law enforcement.

Q. Do you think it is possible for democracy to work in an Islamic nation without secularization?

A: Let me address both questions, because they are interrelated:

The second largest Muslim country in the world is India. And, as far as we know, there do not seem to be many Indian Muslims in al-Qaeda.
Why not? Partly the answer is culture. India has what Lawrence Harrison in "The Central Liberal Truth" calls a "progress-prone" culture. And partly the answer is context. India is a free-market democracy, albeit a messy one, where young people, Hindu or Muslim, boys or girls, have a chance to realize their full potential - even with the lingering caste system.

...It is hard to point to an example where Islam and democracy have worked well together. There are Muslim countries that are democracies, like Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, but they have been largely secularized and not run on Koranic law. I think Islam and democracy could work well together, but it would take the sort of reformation of Islam that Christianity and Judaism went through. There are Muslim thinkers who have called for that.

This also echoes my opinion. I have always thought that if there is anyone who can reform Islam, it would be Muslims from the inside. Provided they can survive the fatwahs.


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