Director’s Desk, January 22, 2014

Jacob BenderToday’s The New York Times published a “Letter-to-the-Editor” that I wrote, responding to their editorial “Mixed Results for Mideast Democracy” of Jan. 16.  Following is the text of my letter:

To the Editor:

Re “Mixed Results for Mideast Democracy” (editorial, Jan. 16):

As you make clear, the road to democracy in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East is abundant with obstacles, large and small. One thing should be obvious to all, however, and that is the fact that there is nothing intrinsically incompatible between Islam and democratic governance, contrary to a position argued by some American anti-Muslim activists.

The turmoil in Egypt, for example, has more to do with the legacy of the postwar authoritarian regimes of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak and the power of the military than with religion.

But by refusing even to describe President Mohamed Morsi’s illegal ouster as a “coup,” American foreign policy and its meek statements of “concern” as hundreds of nonviolent protesters are shot in the streets by Egyptian security forces have contributed much to Muslim cynicism about Western democratizing efforts.

Muslim Americans will continue to support those in the Muslim world who are struggling for a peaceful transition to civilian democratic rule and who advance a vision of Islam that is open-minded, tolerant and inclusive.

Philadelphia, Jan. 16, 2014

The writer is executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

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