Human Rights,  International

Arab liberal to West: don’t patronize us on democracy

‘Omran Salman, editor of the reformist Arabic website Aafaq.org, takes strong exception to European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering’s suggestion that the Arab world may not be ready for western-style democracy.

These people [like Poettering] believe that Arabs deserve nothing better than their present governments – [that is,] they do not deserve the democracy enjoyed by civilized nations. It follows that it is better not to pressure dictatorial regimes but instead to grant their wishes, [and receive] in exchange agreements, money, and profits – while the people there can go to hell.

In reality, the European Parliament president, who should be ashamed of himself, is not the only traitor in this group [of Western statesmen]. Unfortunately, many senior European and U.S. officials share his opinion, with some of them [even] vying to turn over a new leaf [in relations with] dictatorial governments like those of [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad, [Libyan Leader Mu’ammar] Al-Qaddafi, and others.
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Rule of law, a government elected by the people, [the government’s] accountability to [its citizens], separation of authorities, pluralism, transfer of power by peaceful means – [all these] do not depend on unique [characteristics] or regional custom. If they are good for the West, they are also good for the East, and for anywhere else in the world.

The only thing left to say is that all reformists, and all those who defend democracy and freedom in the Arab countries, must condemn the racism and opportunism of these politicians – including the president of the European Parliament…

Those who cite Hamas in Gaza as “democratically elected” often forget that:

–A year before Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian legislative elections, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah won a separate election for president of the Palestinian Authority. The result was a divided government rather than a Hamas-controlled government.

–Hamas only achieved full power in Gaza by staging an armed coup against Fatah.

–Democracy means more than one person, one vote, one time. When are the next elections scheduled in Gaza? Where are minority and womens’ rights? Free expression? The rule of law? Not much evidence of any of those things even before the current conflict.

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