Monday, April 17, 2017

Islam is Breaking the Back of the Liberal Democratic Consensus

The following post was sent in by Dr Abdul Majeed Abid in response to my recent blog post regarding Islam and liberal world order.  (I personally think that loyalty to country, even to an empire not our own, can be successfully created, but it takes an unusually dominant host culture or empire to carry it off for now; and in the future, who knows what shape loyalties and identities will eventually take, but that is a story for another day. Dr Abid's comments follow).

From Dr Abdul Majeed Abid:

Islam, it may be, really IS the the rock on which the Western Liberal Democratic Consensus is breaking..

Recent events in Turkey and the political situation in France are indicators of a future where the modern democratic project fails when an interaction with Islam is concerned. A Democratically elected (quibbles aside) government in Turkey used the tool of democracy to give up on democracy itself (it was not as simple as that but this is one of the easier inferences). Khaled Ahmed has written in one of his pieces that Muslims don't really 'get' Democracy. Turkey has seen a hundred-year long ‘struggle’ between Kemalist/Secularist forces (be they Mustafa Kemal’s party CHP or the military) and Islamist/Neo-Ottoman forces (starting from Nacmeddin Erbakan to Tayyip Erdogan) and the Islamists seem to have scored a decisive victory. With its Kurdish-majority south-eastern part up in arms, ISIS knocking on its doors and millions of refugees roaming the cities, Turkey can easily be branded the ‘New Pakistan’. Pakistan, lest we forget, was created to escape from a democracy where Muslims would remain as a permanent minority. It is worth noting that in Mohammad Iqbal's famous address to All India Muslim League in 1930, considered a roadmap to Pakistan, democracy was mentioned six times and every time with a negative connotation.  

In France, a nation proud of its unique national character, faltered when it came to dealing with Muslims. Starting in the 1970s, the principle of Laïcité, the bedrock of French society for the last century, has faced critical examination because of Muslims and their failure to completely integrate in a majority Christian nation.
From the article on Giles Kepel linked above:

“ In September last year, a landmark survey commissioned by the Montaigne Institute found that 28 percent of French Muslims had adopted values “clearly opposed to the values of the republic,” with a mix of “authoritarian” and “secessionist” views, including support for polygamy and the niqab, or full-face veil, and opposition to laws enforcing secularism”.

The identity crisis that Muslims have felt in France, in Britain, in Belgium, in Germany, has not been fully understood or dealt with by the concerned societies. So you get ‘home-grown’ terrorists in Britain, Germany, France and Belgium killing people indiscriminately, turning on the very states that have provided them a social security net and a place to live (Oh and what most people in Pakistan would give up for getting a chance to spend their lives in Western Europe, living on taxpayers’ dime). Muslims in these countries have refused to assimilate partially or completely, threatening the whole edifice of multiculturalism.

The threat of such issues arising in United States has become a rallying cry for right-wing politicians and media. And I kind of understand where that fear (which is mostly irrational at this point) is coming from. When I see a burka-clad woman in Times Square and a full-on Shuttlecock Burka lady in Houston, I myself get afraid, and not for myself, but for 'Fellow Americans’. In the last few months, I have had to provide answers, to the best of my knowledge, about Islam and Muslims, from West Virginia to Miami and Houston, basically everywhere that I went and talked to people (including Ayn Rand fans, non-believers and even a few people from India). It seems there is a failure of assimilation, even in the United States (where the situation is far better than Western Europe). Be it the ‘grooming’ gangs or honour killings in Britain or Female Genital Mutation in the United States, some (not all, but too many?) Muslims demonstrate an aversion to participation in a liberal democratic order. From Syed Qutb to Afia Siddiqi, the story of these "rejectors" is similar. We don’t like you, despite your kindness towards us, and when we get the opportunity, we will do our best to harm you.       

The question on my mind is: Is Islam (even without an ‘Islamist’ bent) capable of coexisting with a multicultural, liberal democratic order? A better phrasing would be, ‘Will Muslims be able to put their affiliation for their country before their faith?’ This might be the question standing between an Islamic ‘Reformation’ and the current state of affairs.