Date: Friday, 6 September 2013
Venue: Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam, Jalan Damansara, Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur
The perennial question has always been: ”Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?”
The answer was initially much clearer with the eruption of Arab Spring. While the Muslim Brotherhood is known to promote an Islamism agenda since its inception in 1928, it changes its stand in the wake of the uprising and started to call for a civil state. A strong advocate of an Islamist agenda, it initially promotes the establishment of some kind of an “Islamic order”. The main concern has always been to forge an ideological community.
However the Brotherhood now seems to be more concern about rights instead of duties, historicity rather than fixed scriptures and the future instead of the past. This new phenomenon is termed as post-Islamism by many sociologists. Whereas Islamism is defined by the fusion of religion and responsibility, post-Islamism emphasizes religiosity and rights. The association of Islamism has always been with exclusivity and authoritarianism while post-Islamism is more concerned with inclusivity and democracy.
It might be true that the old guard of Muslim Brothers continued to pursue the “Islamizing” agenda while its youth on the contrary leaned towards a post-Islamist perspective. Unfortunately this experiment is short-lived. With the ouster of President Morsi via a military coup, it has set a bad precedent for future leaders suggesting that any standing president could be removed undemocratically. Certainly most Arab Gulf states including Saudi Arabia have gained the most from the coup. In fact both Saudis and the Emiratis have expressed their support for the military’s violent crackdown on protestors.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power democratically had threatened these states by illustrating that democracy and Islam are compatible. This basically challenges the tenuous legitimacy underpinning these authoritarian states. And since many dissidents in these countries derive their spiritual political ideology from the Brotherhood, allowing Egypt to succeed under the Brotherhood would send signal to the Gulf dissidents that they should pursue a democratic path.
The future of Egypt is uncertain. Perhaps pressure from the international community might be the only method in halting the bloodshed and ensuring that the instability will not drag Egypt into a long period of violence. Unfortunately, the actions of the Saudi and Emirati regimes in defending the military coup and funding the regime have further emboldened the regime that is portraying itself as not being in need of any foreign assistance.
However, the main concern now is that with the deposed of the moderate Brotherhood, it became a showcase of the failure of reconciliation between Islam and democracy. This would lend more credence to the more radical voices among the Islamists. Obviously it is a dangerous path ahead, full of uncertainties, and the debate will continue and never end: Is Islam compatible with democracy?
Ahmad Farouk Musa
Director of Islamic Renaissance Front
Mujahid Yusof Rawa
A member of Parliament of Malaysia from PAS
A biographer, broadcaster and international journalist and author of “Inside the Muslim Brotherhood”
Raja Ahmad Shahrir Iskandar
Research Associate, Institut Rakyat
8:00 - 8:30PM Registration
8:30 - 8:40PM Welcoming speech by Azrul Azwar, Research Consultant, IR
8:40 - 8:50PM Opening speech by Raja Ahmad Shahrir
8:50 - 9:10PM Speech by Ahmad Farouk Musa
9:10 – 9:30PM Speech by Mujahid Yusof Rawa
9:30 - 9:50PM Speech by Mr Douglas Thompson
9:50 - 10:30PM Discussion