DENVER—In a new policy brief published by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the British Council, Nader Hashemi, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies, reminds readers that democratic transitions take time—and the Arab World is no exception.
The paper, titled "The Mosque and The State: After the Arab Spring," is available online at http://www.ispu.org/Getpolicy/34/2632/Publications.aspx.
In this paper, Hashemi, who is also a professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the Josef Korbel School, turns to the political histories of the Middle East and the West to examine the relationship between religionand democracy. He points to the tumultuous past of Western Europe to illustrate his point that the road to democracy is not always straightforward or without potholes.
"An understanding of history is essential to understanding the tensions between Islam and democracy," Hashemi writes. "For a generation of Arabs, 'secularism' is associated with dictatorship, repression, and nepotism. The turn to Islam as an alternative source of political inspiration and hope, therefore, was both logical and natural."
"Today, significant segments of the Muslim population view religion not as a natural ally of despotism and a cause of social conflict, but as a possible agent of stability and predictability as well as an ethical constraint on political power."
The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding will host a webinar co-presented by Hashemi to officially launch the paper on February 11, 2012. Those interested in taking part in the webinar can register online at http://www.britishcouncil.org/new/society/belief-in-dialogue/our-shared-future/events/Webinar-Islam-and-Democracy-After-the-Arab-Spring/.