Last Monday I moderated the session on „Islam and Democracy“ in the course on political theory here at the University of Education. The entire Seminar is lead by Prof. Dr. Burth.
When I posted on Facebook, about the preparations for the session, some people already were very passionate about the subject. And it let to a pile of angry and controversial comments. Now as we have done the session and had some very interesting discussions in there as well, I feel I should write a little bit about it here as well.
I don’t think I can claim to speak authoritatively on that subject, as I had just a short glimpse into this area of study. However it was very interesting and I would hope that my fellow students here at the Politics and the new Islamic studies department, will think about it further and more thorough then I could.
For the discussion I prepared a paper wit the following points:
- Islam is compatible with democracy as much as Catholicism is compatible with democracy. The Koran can be interpreted so that it reads compatible with democracy or being compatible with a religious dictatorship.
- Islam does not equal Islam, there are enormous differences in religious practice, socio-economic Conditions, national background and interpretation of the scripture.
- Nation is still a valid framework for interpretation
- There are enormous differences in between Islamic, islamist or islam-inspired parties across the board
- Islamist is a invalid shortening for grouping parties. As Christiandemocract is a shortening when you look at the CDU, CVP or the American Republican Party.
- For us as students of politics and teachers we should try to create a „Islamic democracy pedagogy“
As a conclusion what do I think? Yes Islam is compatible with democracy, if you want that, as Catholicism is compatible with democracy. But as Catholicism it can be used as an ideological framework to justify oppression and authoritarianism; Islam can be used. However we here in the west have to invest much more time and efforts in trying to understand it. The issue will stay with us, especially with the Arab Spring.