The West is understandably nervous about the election of Mohamed Morsi. The president-elect of Egypt is taking charge of a febrile situation. The economy is contracting and human rights abuses are rampant — attacks on Coptic churches by Islamic groupshave forced an estimated 100,000 Christians to flee the country.
But it would be wrong to conclude that Islamic democracy is a contradiction in terms. Whatever new state emerges in Egypt almost certainly won’t be democratic in the liberal, European tradition, and there will be a constant fight to protect the rights of women and religious minorities.
But the presumption that Morsi’s political Islam is the vanguard of theocratic dictatorship ignores historical and contemporary evidence to the contrary. Islam is simply too complex to be stereotyped as the faith of tyrants. [Read more…]