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Myths and Realities on Islam and Democracy in the Middle East

Keywords: islam, democracy, secularization thesis, justice and development party, turkey, middle east.

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there is a strong body of literature that claims that islam and democracy are essentially incompatible. however, islam like all other religions is multivocal and it has strong theorethical elements that can also work for a basis of a democratic polity. throughout the muslim world there are certain countries that achieved a considerable level of democratization. it is only the arab world, not the muslim world, that so far represents a complete failure in terms of democratic transition. the failure of arab world should be attributed to more political reasons, such as oil economy and the rentier state model than to islam. lack of international support for pro-democracy movements in the region, under the fear that they might move towards an islamist political system is also an important factor in the democratic failures in the region. however, democratic record of turkey?s pro-islamic justice and development party challenges these fears. with the international attention it attracts, particularly from the arab world, turkish experience provides a strong case for the compatibility of democracy and islam.


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