By Zoya Hasan
This publication explores the nature of the political transformation and democratic transition within the Asian Muslim global. It asks no matter if democracy is acceptable and fascinating as a political process for non-Western societies, and assesses the level of tangible democratization in all the nations studied, specifically, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.
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Extra resources for Democracy in Muslim Societies (Orf Studies in Contemporary Muslim Societies)
Top decision-making authority remains in the hands of the president. Military presence in civilian activities is becoming overwhelming. Substantive input from elected governments into economic policy has been the exception rather than the rule. While Benazir Bhutto carried out a nationalisation policy, Nawaz Sharif pursued liberalisation. One paradox has been that military governments have represented periods of economic growth, while elected governments have lagged behind in this respect. Apart from economic deficit, the democratic potential of the state of Pakistan has suffered due to a lingering human rights deficit.
In such a scenario, military and hardline Islamic groups are collaborating to orchestrate domestic instability in order to wrest power. In a democratic country, the state has to protect its minorities. But discrimination and intolerance by the state is becoming rampant. Also, imposition of Shari’a law discriminates against Muslim women. So, the challenges before Indonesian democracy are protection of minorities, dealing with communal and political conflicts, and tackling terrorism. It will be difficult to consolidate democracy if there are too many different interpretations of Islam.
According to them, the ideal and more ‘civilised’ way of resolving such disputes should have been through consensus-building in democratic institutions such as Parliament or meeting over a table. But the near absence of the opposition in Parliament and the resolution of political issues out on the streets, much to the annoyance of liberal middle-class intellectuals and donors alike, have failed to bring about a happy resolution of the principles of a power-sharing consensus. That is why much of the takeover of power (whether by the Awami League or BNP) resembles the politics of ‘char dokhol’ (occupation of char lands1), which is more typical of a thriving peasantry than a burgeoning bourgeois democracy!