FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The United States needs a principled approach in supporting liberty-minded secular democracies in the fledgling governments of the new Middle-East
PHOENIX (October 21, 2011) – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) issued the following statement regarding the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi:
“The American Islamic Forum for Democracy stands in solidarity with the people of Libya who are at last free from the oppressive and barbaric rule of Muammar Gaddafi and his family. It is exhilarating that another Arab fascist dictator has fallen and another country has the opportunity to chart its course to liberty and freedom. Gaddafi’s death will more clearly mark the end of this brutal era and allow the Libyan people to turn the page to the hard work of true societal transformation toward secular democracy.
In the long term I am hopeful for Libya as with the right help and influence from the west they can build institutions that will facilitate liberalism and the rule of law. But we should not be deluded into thinking that Gaddafi’s death automatically means an ally and free Libya. There is a lot of hard work to be accomplished. As we experienced in Iraq, in the short term there will be significant hurdles to overcome that will probably include an Islamist winter, sectarian violence (recent reports for example showed Sunni Islamists destroying graves and mosques of moderate spiritual Sufi sects in Libya), and some chaos as the only groups that were organized were radical Islamists that evolved in the Darwinian environment of Gaddafi for 42 years.
The Gaddafi thuggery is well entrenched and It remains to be seen in the next few months whether the corruption, violence, and oppression of the Gaddafi era is completely gone or whether elements of the military and society that defined Libya for decades will continue and resurface. This is the ultimate challenge in the Middle East transformations happening- Democracies can only be successful if they are founded by citizens that are moral and value human rights, equality, and the rule of law. It will take a while for Libya to get to that point – it certainly is not a light switch that that can simply be turned on.
The United States needs to adopt a principled position with regard to whom and what we will support in the transformations in the Middle East. Senator Lieberman’s position in the Wall St. Journal today regarding supporting the Islamist party Ennahdha in Tunisia is extremely concerning considering that Senator Lieberman is usually one of the more informed Senator’s on the issue. Even if Ennahdha is non-violent and modern in their treatment of women, an Islamist organization by definition is directly opposed to the ideals of liberty and freedom that America is supposed to represent and the Libyan people are endowed with by their creator. I agree with the Senator’s recommendations about Millennium Funds and small business stimuli and even with the concept of engaging Islamist organizations, but that engagement should be limited to the battle of ideas and should not be extended to supporting their involvement in government. Banning these organizations is counterproductive, but openly supporting a role for them in government opens the door to the Islamitization of these fledgling democracies.
The battle on the ground and the contest of ideas is not only non-violence vs. violence but it is western secular democracy vs. Islamism. Helping democracy touting Islamists is like helping non-violent communists or socialists in the cold war. We need leadership that will have the courage to limit our support to truly liberty-minded groups in the new Libya and across the Arab Spring.
In the short term (6mo-2 years) we may see Libya devolve into chaos with the dictator gone. But in the long term (5-20 years) I am hopeful with the right amount of “muscular liberalism” (using PM Cameron’s term) we can see a true secular democracy evolve. So-called Islamic democracies (i.e. Turkey) will never be real allies with the United States since their world is Islamocentric and supremacist no matter how “democratic” they appear. “
About the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. For more information on AIFD, please visit our website at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/.
Gordon C. James Public Relations