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Pakistan Selling Islam & Democracy…Any Buyers?

July 6, 2011

Last week, a representative from the Pakistani-American Congress spoke before Congress regarding the relationship between Islam and democracy.  Link here.  According to Dr Zulfiqar Kazmi,

“Islam and democracy go together as the great religion ordains a clear charter of human rights and economic opportunities for all and allows spiritual and societal growth…”

I am sure the good doctor is well-educated; however, it is curious that none of the qualities he mentions as ordained by Islam are actually present in any Islamic states in existence today. 

Human rights?  Women are human, yet they are not free in Saudi Arabia.  Jews and Christians are human, but Islamic jurisprudence stipulates that non-muslims pay a tax just to live in Muslim lands. 

Economic opportunities?  The majority of Islamic states are in what is considered the ‘3rd World’.  Why have these opportunities not vaulted these countries into the G-8, or at least the G-20?

Spiritual and societal growth?  It bears qualifying that the only spiritual growth will be an expansion of Islam.

“Democracy, Dr Kazmi noted, is inherent in Islamic teachings, which stress equality and justice for all without any discrimination.”

No discrimination?  What would the jizya be, then, if not discriminatory?  “You are not of my religion, you must pay me to avoid getting beaten, having your house robbed, and so that you can have a job.”  I think we have a conflict of definitions.

In the Pakistani context, he cited Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s firm belief in democracy and his saying that it was Islam which illustrated the concept of democratic freedom and guaranteed human rights of people about 1500 years ago.”

In discussing the Pakistani context, it is beneficial to take into account the 2010 Freedom of the World report by Freedom House (www.freedomhouse.org).  Pakistan is not considered an “electoral democracy”, currently.  Further excerpts from the report clarify:

“Corruption is pervasive in politics and government…

In general, the constitution and other laws authorize the government to curb speech on subjects including the armed forces, the judiciary, and religion; blasphemy laws are occasionally used against the media…

Pakistan is an Islamic republic, and there are numerous legal restrictions on religious freedom. Blasphemy laws provide harsh sentences, including the death penalty, and injuring the “religious feelings” of individual citizens is prohibited.

Legal provisions for freedoms of assembly and association are selectively upheld. Authorities sometimes restrict public gatherings, disperse protests with excessive force, and use preventative arrest to forestall planned demonstrations. Some Islamist leaders have been held under house arrest or in preventive detention under the Maintenance of Public Order Act, which allows three months’ detention without trial.

A combination of traditional norms, discriminatory laws, and weak enforcement contributes to a high incidence of rape, domestic abuse, and other forms of violence against women…

Most interfaith marriages are considered illegal, and the children of such unions would be illegitimate. Severe restrictions on women’s rights in areas controlled by the Taliban—including murders, public floggings, and limitations on dress and behavior—are a growing concern.”

 Not to belabor the point, but Dr. Kazmi needs to take an honest look at Pakistan, and other Islamic states, before he tries to hock this brand of snake oil on Capitol Hill.  But, then again, every word was probably lapped up by those members of Congress who just cannot wait to send more aid somewhere so that they can feel good about themselves.

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