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Religion ‘testing the waters’ of democracy

10 Aralık 2013 , Salı 09:18
Religion ‘testing the waters’ of democracy
melis.sunay@halklailiskiler.com

A stand hard to comprehend for those who know the actual meaning and have lived under a democracy, yet easy to use as a tool to dominate over those hoodwinked without difficulty … and when ‘those’ happen to be a group of people, a large group at that, then it becomes too embarrassing to even deliberate.

It is quite troubling in theory since neither can be defined in others’ terms yet many in various cultures throughout the world are misled into believing and trusting such inconceivable ideological notions.  An individual's religious beliefs will most naturally influence their political inclination yet no single religion can dictate state policies, allowing for religious freedom in democratic, multi-cultural and religious countries.  First and foremost, democracy by definition is secular so it cannot be defined in religious terms.  The two cannot co-exist since religious beliefs cannot be open to criticism.  On the other hand, political doctrines are open to discussion, analysis, and all types of criticism under a democratic system.  Again, this would be unacceptable by ‘any’ monotheist religion and it would be unfair to that religion to be in harmony with any political system.  

A democratic nation must adhere to being collectively democratic, uniting peoples with different backgrounds.  Similar cultures, yet different backgrounds as religion --- should not stand out in a democracy.  Of course, the state must also stay out of peoples’ personal lives, especially with respect to their religious affiliations, customs and practices, not constantly throwing it in their faces or attempting to control all in accordance to the practices of one over the other.

What women wear in public for example is one of these tools based on religious affiliations that have been used so much so over time, that it has become a political battleground in many countries throughout the world, especially in Muslim ones.  The right to wear a headscarf in the case of Muslims, for instance, has been used for support and gathering votes in various countries practicing the two under one roof. The right to wear head scarves in public in such countries may seem democratic to many as the right not to wear them.  It is nevertheless still a religious device that should not mix with political stances, especially when and if it ends up in conflict with the foundational structure of uniting groups of people as one, under one flag; then it simply becomes a relic of oppression.  The purpose of covering up or wearing a scarf is a way of ensuring moral boundaries in Islam.  However, morality also includes moral behavior as well as dressing modestly.  Therefore, according on religious doctrines, any immodest behavior i.e. wearing make-up or using vulgar language would not be considered moral while ‘dressed’ modestly, adding more burden on the shoulders of the state.  How would a religiously guided state resolve this?  This controversial symbol of the Islamic culture can express Islamic identity for some while representing subjugation for others.

Thus, there can be no concept as Islamic democracy, for the term itself is an oxymoron. Under Islamic ruling, interests of the elite take precedence over all and identities become more important than issues.  People are able to influence, resist or assist developments in their country under a democracy, whereas in an Islamic state, the people are subjects rather than citizens since political power rests in the hands of the elite.  The state further controls education to ensure that the current balance of power does not change, as any such change would challenge their existence.  And finally, education becomes a powerful political tool used to safeguard and ensure the needs of the powerful under Islamic rule and not as a service provided for the welfare of each citizen who represent an investment for the nation’s future as in democracies.  

 

 

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