Seculartization and Democratization in the Middle East
By Majid Tehranian
Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Paper for Presentation at the World Congress of
International Political Science Association
Quebec City, August 1-5, 2000
Secularization in Islamic societies faces an especially difficult task.
The Islamic Shari'a (Divine Law) is a comprehensive legal system dealing
with all aspects of life. The closing of the gates of ijtihad in
the 10th century faced Islamic societies with relative legal stagnation.
Modernization has clearly undermined the legitimacy and viability of the
Shari'a. Secularization in the modern Middle East may be therefore dated
back to the 19th century when the impact of secular West on Middle Eastern
societies called for urgent reforms. However, the process has gone through
several distinct stages characterized by incremental secularization, radical
secularization, radical Islamization, and resurgent secularization. This
chapter examines the processes of secularization in dialectical relation
to democratization, i. e. the broadening and deepening of political participation.
Comparative secularization in legislation, education, judiciary, media,
and culture will be the main foci of analysis. The chapter argues that the
transition from orality and writing to print and electronic culture generally
leads to diffusion of knowledge. This, in turn, reduces the authority of
the clerics as the custodians of revealed knowledge. Secularization in the
Middle East, as elsewhere, has been the result of increasing democratization
of knowledge and power. However, democratization has been generally hostage
to authoritarian regimes that resist change. It also has been retarded by
rentier states whose large oil revenues or immigrants' remittances have
shielded them against political pressures. A pathology of transition also
has characterized the Middle East's passage to modernity. The ideologies
of purification including "pure" nationalism, communism, secularism,
and Islamism have retarded democratic development that requires co-existence
and compromise among political adversaries.
" modernization involves a process of secularization;
that is, it systematically displaces religious institutions, beliefs, and
practices, substituting for them those of reason and science[Max Weber called
this process] 'the disenchantment of the world.' It eliminates all the superhuman
and supernatural forces, the gods and spirits, with which nonindustrial
cultures populate the universe and to which they attribute responsibility
for the phenomena of the natural and social worlds. In their place it substitutes
as the sole cosmology the modern scientific interpretation of nature. Only
the laws and regularities discovered by the scientific method are admitted
as valid explanations of phenomena. If it rains, or does not rain, it is
not because the gods are angry but because of atmospheric conditions, as
measured by the barometer and photographed by satellites."
"Modernization", Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed January 7, 2000].
This chapter considers secularization and democratization in the context
of a diversity of Middle Eastern societies. It argues that relations between
secularization and democratization in the Middle East are far more complex
than those experienced by the West (Yalman 1973, 1991). Islam and democracy
have been allies in some contexts and adversaries in others. Historically,
relations between mosque and state in Islamic societies have been significantly
different from the relations between church and state in Christendom. In
contrast to the Christian doctrine of separation of spiritual and temporal
realms, Islam generally sees them as united. Politically, absolutist monarchies
in the Middle East were not transformed into enlightened despotisms as in
Europe but, rather, became Wesstern colonial satrapies. They could not therefore
pursue an effective policy of modernization and secularization. In the anti-imperialist
struggles, the Islamic Ulama often made common cause with secular nationalists
and liberals. Economically, most modern Middle Eastern states became directly
or indirectly recipients of large oil revenues in the form of windfall "rents"
that allowed them to avoid taxing their population while extending some
social benefits and resisting the pressures for political participation.
Culturally, the transition from orality to print and electronic media systems
has led to accelerating mobilization of the tradition-bound lower strata
of society with Islamic rather than secular ideological orientations.
A pathology of transition to modernity has characterized Middle Eastern
development no less it had plagued prior industrialization experiences in
the world. The passage to modernity requires mobilization of human and natural
resources, which in turn fosters ideologies of disciplined puritanism requiring
mobilization, dedication, hard work, and abstinence from consumption. In
past historical experiences, the Puritan, Nazi, Fascist, and Communist Revolutions
have performed that function. Faced with colonial domination, Middle Eastern
societies have resorted to the more indigenous varieties of purist ideologies,
including "pure" nationalism and Islamism. Such ideologies clearly
hamper democratic development that requires co-existence and compromise
among political adversaries.
Following a brief discussion of the comparative aspects of secularization
and democratization, the chapter takes a historical approach. It reviews
the ebb and flow of secularization and democratization under the rubric
of three historical phases: (1) incremental secularization and democratization
in the 19th century, (2) radical secularization without democratization
in the inter-war period (1918-1941), and (3) radical Islamization with/out
democratization in the postwar period. In conclusion, the problems and prospects
for an emerging democratic coexistence between mosque and state will be
Secularization and Democratization in Comparative Perspective
In modernization theories, secularization and democratization have been
often considered mutually re-enforcing processes. In the Marxist tradition,
religion is considered opium of the masses that blunts class-consciousness
and revolutionary fervor. In the liberal tradition, traditional religious
values are considered obstacles to modernity and modernization. In both
traditions, secularization is considered an essential component of democratization.
This orthodox view may be generally valid for the Western historical
experience. The rise of the modern world in Western Europe and North America
was accompanied by decline of religious authority and monarchical power.
It also led to rise of secular nation-states, and a succession of liberal
democratic revolutions that laid the foundations of the modern democratic
states. As exemplified by the United States constitution, one feature of
this transition was the separation of church and state. In Western countries
with an official church, such as the Church of England in Britain, secular
laws eventually prevailed. Moreover, the transition from orality and writing
to print and electronic cultures generally led to diffusion of knowledge.
This, in turn, reduced the authority of the Roman Catholic Church as the
custodian of revealed knowledge. Secularization in the West was thus the
result of increasing democratization of knowledge and power. Jesus' injunction,
"render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things
that are God's" (Bible, Mark, 12:17) provided the theological legitimation
for the separation of church and state.
By contrast to the early history of Christianity, temporal and spiritual
authorities were united for the first forty years of Islamic history (622-661).
Under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad and his Rightly-Guided Caliphs
(khulaf al-rashidun), the nascent Islamic community was led by political
leaders who were at the same time considered vicars of God on earth. Following
the assassination of the fourth Caliph Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law, political
power passed on to two dynasties that did not enjoy as much religious legitimacy.
Although the Ummayed and Abbasid Caliphs continued to call themselves amir
al-mu'minin, Commander of the Faithful, they were not universally respected
or followed. Except for its first forty years, therefore, Islamic history
was characterized by a de facto separation of mosque and state.
But historical memories of pristine Islam have persisted to give rise
to several different tendencies, including Islamic conservatism, messianism,
reformism, mysticism, separatism, and revolution (see Table
1). The most militant of these tendencies is an effort to return to
the purity of pristine Islam by unifying mosque and state power. This tendency
has expressed itself both in conservative and revolutionary politics. The
earliest of such movements was the 19th century Wahhabi movement in the
Arabian Peninsula that finally established the Saudi regime in 1932. The
movement was and continues to be a puritanical doctrine that tries to re-establish
pristine Islam. So was Ayatollah Khomeini's call for the establishment of
an Islamic Republic. Both calls are fundamentally against secular regimes.
They have reverberated throughout the Islamic world. However, the revolutionary
tendency also contains within itself reformist secular potentials that have
led in Iran to a struggle between the conservatives, liberals, and pragmatists.
The other three tendencies (messianism, mysticism, and separatism) may
be considered strategies of resistance. By reliance on the messianic notions
of the return of Mahdi (in Arabic, he who is divinely guided), for centuries
Muslims have risen against their oppressive governments. The latest such
incidence took place in Sudan when in 1844-55 by declaring himself Mahdi,
Muhammad Ahmad successfully defeated the British forces (Mortimer, 1982,
76-79). In mid-19th century, the Babi Movement in Iran led a less successful
revolt. It merged with the constitutional revolutionary movement as well
as the Bahai Faith founded by Mirza Hussein Ali, who had declared himself
Mahdi in 1863 just before he was exiled.
Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, is arguably as old as Islam. In later centuries,
it turned into a formidable movement of folk Islam organized in a variety
of Sufi orders or brotherhoods (ukhuwwat). As a reaction against
Islamic positivism, Sufism emphasized the Way (Tariqa) vis-à-vis
the Law (Shari'a). It established a constellation of saints and places
of Sufi gathering and worship other than the mosque, including khaneqah,
zawiya, and tekya. A few Sufi Orders, such as the Sanusis in
Libya (Mortimer 1982, 74-76) and the Safavids in Iran, also achieved positions
of state power by establishing dynastic rule. Official Islam considered
Sufism a religious deviance until the 11th century when Imam Ghazali (1058-1111)
reconciled its principles with those of the Shari'a. Sufi orders subsequently
helped to propagate Islam into south and southeast Asia. To this day, Sufism
continues to be a source of religious inspiration for millions of Muslims.
It provides a worldview that often shuns state power in favor of personal
spiritual pursuits. It is largely quietist and except for a few historical
instances, it does not directly confront state power.
By contrast, as typified by khawarij in early Islam and Shi'ism
in much of Islamic history, Islamic separatism challenges the legitimacy
of the state on religious grounds. Today, there are many separatist groups
in the Islamic world that wish to set themselves apart from a dominant secular
society that is perceived as depraved and beyond salvation (Sivan 1985,
86-90). In contemporary Egypt, such groups are exemplified by Jama'at
al-tableMuslimin, later dubbed by authorities Takfir wa-Hijra
(Condemnation and Migration), and al-'Uzla al-Shu'uriyya (Emotional
The six tendencies under discussion are not mutually exclusive. As Table 1 shows, the first three tendencies
(Conservative, Reformist, and Revolutionary) can be readily identified in
terms of historical periods and movements. But the religious tendencies
towards Messianism, Mysticism, and Separatism cannot be as readily identified
and dated. The latter tendencies may be considered as strategies of resistance
that have a long and sometimes secret history.
Secularization and democratization in modern Middle East can be analyzed
in terms of the ebbs and flows of the transition to modernity. As prismatic
societies (Riggs 1964), Middle Eastern countries present almost every color
in the complex prism of mosque-state relations. However, patterns seem to
have shifted from incremental to radical secularization and democratization
followed by radical Islamization with or without democratization. Although
it is too early to judge, the latter period may be followed again by a period
of incremental secularization and democratization. As in the Western transition
to modernity during which Christianity was transformed through Renaissance
and Reformation, Islam also is currently undergoing profound changes in
its belief systems and practices. The transition from orality and writing
to print and electronic cultures in the Middle East, as elsewhere, is leading
to democratization and secularization of knowledge and power (Eickelman
and Anderson 1999; Lawrence et al. 1999).
Before we discuss this evolutionary process, a few caveats on democratization
and secularization are in order. First, as the preceding discussion has
shown, Islam is not a monolith. There are enormous variations in beliefs
and practices with respect to mosque-state relations. Second, in the processes
of broadening and deepening of political participation, democratization
is a journey not a destination. No country in the world can claim
to have achieved perfect democracy, which in Lincoln's apt words means "government
of the people, by the people, and for the people". However, elements
of that ideal can be summarized as follows:
- Political democracy: popular sovereignty; universal suffrage, protection
of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness; majority rule, minority rights;
fair representation and periodic elections, peaceful succession, direct
voting such as referenda on critical issues, rule of law, habeas corpus,
bill of rights and responsibilities of citizenship
- Economic democracy: protection of property, free markets, free competition,
government regulation of trade and investment to ensure absence of monopolies
and fair standards in trade, exchange, competition, health, and environment.
- Social democracy: social security for the unemployed, retired, pregnant
women, children, provision of public health, education, and welfare
- Cultural democracy: universal education, access to means of communication,
freedom of identity, including speech, assembly, religion, language, privacy,
and life style.
As for secularization, the fundamental principle is a separation of religion
and state. This does not, however, mean a separation of religion and politics.
In a secular society, religious institutions like other social institutions
in a secular society are free to compete and express their political views
in the marketplace of ideas. In contrast to theocracies, secular regimes
do not allow a clerical class to monopolize political power in the name
of God without reference to popular will. In this sense, secularization
and democratization must be considered as two sides of the same coin.
One last caveat. Significant differences in Sunni and Shi'a theologies
and religious organizations have led to different consequences in Iran,
Turkey, and the Arab world. While unity of temporal and spiritual authority
continued to be a tenet of Sunni Islam, Shi'ism from the beginning was a
minority sect upholding the legitimacy of the House of Ali against the temporal
rulers. From time to time, Shi'a dynasties came to power as in the cases
of the Fatimids in Egypt (973-1171), the Buyids in Iran and Iraq (945-1055),
and the Safavids (1501-1722) in Iran. But the majority sect continued to
be Sunni, even in Iran until the Safavids brought Shi'a missionaries from
Lebanon to convert the population to Shi'ism vis-à-vis the Ottoman
Sunnis. For this reason, some scholars have argued that Shi'a Islam is an
Iranian cultural creation that has grafted the Divine Rights of Kings into
Islamic theology by vesting spiritual and temporal authority exclusively
in the House of Ali. Whatever its origins, Shi'ism in modern Iran, Iraq,
and Lebanon, where it is followed by majorities, has generally assumed an
oppositionist posture against secular governments. According to Twelver
Shi'ites, dominant in Iran and Iraq, legitimate power belongs to the 12th
Imam Mahdi who had disappeared into occultation in 878 and who will reappear
someday to restore peace and justice in the world. By virtue of their spiritual
authority as custodians of the Imamate, the Shi'a Ulama often succeeded
in creating a state within the state. Collection of religious taxes (khoms,
zakat, and sahm-i-Imam) and control of religious endowments
(waqf) also gave them some financial independence. Although modern
secular states have tried time and again to turn the Ulama into state pensioners,
the Shi'a Ulama have often succeeded in maintaining their autonomy. They
have thus generally acted as a stronger source of opposition to secular
policies than their Sunni counterparts.
Incremental Secularization and Democratization
Middle Eastern societies came into direct contact and conflict with the
secular West as early as the military defeats they experienced. The landing
of Napoleon in Egypt in 1798 was the most dramatic of these events. Although
the French were expelled in 1802 by the combined forces of British and Ottoman
troops, the shock of contact started a secularization process that continues
to this day. For the Ottoman Empire, the loss of Greece and Egypt in the
early 19th century brought military defeat home. For Qajar Iran, defeat
took place in the early 19th century as a result of two successive wars
with Russia in which the country lost its control over the Caucuses and
Central Asia. The resulting shock awakened the governments in Ottoman Turkey,
Iran, and Egypt to the need for reform.
Reform began first with military institutions. Reorganization of armies
along Western models of conscription, armament, and warfare was the first
item on the agenda. In Ottoman Turkey, the Tanzimat Reforms of 1836-76 took
the lead. A proclamation in 1839 upheld the principles of individual liberty,
freedom from oppression, and equality before the law and a section of the
1856 edict concerned itself with the rights of Christians. However, such
declarations by the Ottoman Sultans were primarily window dressing aimed
at pleasing Western powers. The real reforms were in the army, including
the major reorganizations of 1842 and 1869 following the pattern of the
successful Prussian conscript system.
In Iran, military reform was conducted under the leadership of Crown-Prince
Abbas Mirza. A French military mission sent to Iran by Napoleon assisted
him in the task. However, as soon as France reached an agreement with Russia
against Britain, the mission was withdrawn and Iran suffered defeat in the
hands of the Russians (Amini 1999).
In Egypt, an ambitious Albanian military officer named Mohammad Ali led
the modernization and secularization drives. As a society ruled by the control
of a single superhighway, the Nile, Egypt presented the greatest opportunity
in the Ottoman Empire for a total restructuring of society. The three-year
French occupation (1798-1801) had undermined the country's traditional system.
Muhammad Ali completed the task by putting an end to Egypt's traditional
society. He organized a modern army, eliminated the former ruling oligarchy,
expropriated the old landholding classes, turned the religious class into
government pensioners, restricted the activities of the native merchants
and artisans, neutralized the Bedouins, and crushed all movements of rebellion
among the peasants. The task of rebuilding Egypt along modern lines now
lay before him. Although he largely failed in this task by refusing to democratize
the political system, his secular policies in administration, education,
and law laid the foundation. Disbanding his mercenary army, he created a
fleet and an army of Egyptians conscripted from the peasant class. To supply
services for his armed forces, he created Western-style schools to train
doctors, engineers, veterinarians, and other specialists. He also began
sending students to European countries for training in modern techniques.
Following the military, educational secularization made the greatest
progress. Education in Islamic societies had been the responsibility of
the various millets recognized by the state as the People of the
Book, including Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic communities.
Education for Muslims was controlled by the Ulama and directed toward
religious learning. The first inroads into the Ottoman educational system
had been made with the creation of naval engineering (1773), military engineering
(1793), medical (1827), and military science (1834) colleges. Similar institutions
for diplomats and administrators were founded, including the translation
bureau (1833) and the civil service school (1859). The latter was reorganized
in 1877 and eventually became the political science department of the University
of Ankara and the major training center for higher civil servants.
In 1846, the first comprehensive plan for state education was put forward.
It provided for a complete system of primary and secondary schools leading
to the university level, all under the Ministry of Education. A still more
ambitious educational plan, inaugurated in 1869, provided for free and compulsory
primary education. Both schemes progressed slowly because of a lack of money,
but they provided a framework within which development toward a systematic,
secular educational program could take place. By 1914 there were more than
36,000 Ottoman schools, although the great majority were small, traditional
primary schools. The development of the state system was aided by the example
of progress among the non-Muslim millet schools, in which the education
provided was more modern than in the Ottoman schools. These included more
than 1,800 Greek schools with about 185,000 pupils and some 800 Armenian
schools with more than 81,000 pupils. Non-Muslims also used schools provided
by foreign missionary groups in the empire. There were also 675 U.S., 500
French Catholic, and 178 British missionary schools, with more than 100,000
pupils among them. These foreign schools included such famous institutions
as Robert College (founded 1863), the Syrian Protestant College (1866);
later the American University of Beirut), and the Université Saint-Joseph
(1874). Similarly in Iran and Egypt, secularization by state expansion of
military, civilian, and educational bureaucracies followed the same patterns
as in the Ottoman Empire but with significant lags.
Middle Eastern efforts towards state building, centralization, and secularization
resembled the European models of benevolent despots such as Louis XIV in
France (1638-1715), Frederick the Great in Prussia (1712-86), and Peter
the Great in Russia (1672-1725). However, the results were radically different.
From the 19th century onwards, European powers and cultural influences were
increasingly penetrating Middle Eastern polities and societies. That in
turn led to strongly ambivalent feelings about modernization and secularization
cum Westernization. Modernization was thus viewed by some as Western
imperialism to be resisted. To the Ulama, the process seemed to be not only
undermining their authority but also destroying the very fabric of Islamic
culture and civilization.
The seeds of dualistic cultural and educational development in the Middle
East were thus sown during the 19th century. Although Turkey and Iran were
not formally colonized, they too developed dualistic systems of religious
and secular schools alongside the countries that were colonized (Egypt,
Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan). Iran followed Turkey and Egypt
by establishing in 1852 its first modern university, dar al-funun,
with the explicit objective of teaching modern sciences and technology.
Missions of Middle Eastern students were also sent to Europe to learn Western
science, technology, and culture. The returning students inaugurated translation
of European works into Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Schools, especially
in the Levant soon followed the establishment of printing presses in Ottoman
Turkey (1727), Iran (1812), Egypt (1815) and Iraq (around 1870). In 1881
French Jesuit missionaries established St. Joseph University. Introduced
earlier by Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries, printing presses
stimulated the growth of the city's publishing industry, mainly in Arabic
but also in French and English. By 1900 Beirut was in the vanguard of Arabic
journalism. A group of intellectuals sought to revive the Arabic cultural
heritage and eventually became the first spokesmen of a new Arab nationalism
While the modern educational institutions involved only a small percentage
of the people, the masses continued to receive traditional education in
the Islamic schools. An unintended consequence of all this was the rise
of an anti-imperialist and reformist Pan-Islamic movement. A charismatic
and forceful cleric, Seyyed Jamal ed-Din Al-Afghani (1838-1897), led the
way. In the career of this single leader, we can see how the religious and
secular forces were going to confront each other in the next century or
so of Middle Eastern history (Keddie 1966, 1968, 1972, 1981, l983, l986).
Born in Asadabad, Iran, Afghani followed an extraordinary career of religious
and political agitation that took him from Iran to Afghanistan, India, Egypt,
France, Britain, Russia, and finally the Ottoman court in Istanbul. Wherever
he went, he counseled the leaders, led religious and political agitation
against Western colonialism and their native allies, and called for external
unity and internal reform of the Islamic world. He also left a legacy behind
him. This was followed by Islamic reformists such as Mohammad 'Abduh and
Rashid Reda in Egypt, and constitutional revolutions such as those in Iran,
Egypt, and Turkey. He was clearly the precursor to the late 20th century
resurgence of Islamic movements in many parts of the Middle East (Kedourie
2000). He may be considered as the godfather of the Islamic Brotherhood
(Ikhwan al-Muslimun) in the Arab world and the Islamic republican movement
Afghani's legacy was fourfold, including anti-imperialism, anti-absolutism,
Islamic militancy, and Islamic reform. The four legacies converged in the
constitutionalist movements in Ottoman Turkey, Egypt, and Iran. Revolutionary
sentiments were also encouraged by the Japanese defeat of Russia in 1905
and the Russian Revolution of 1905. Although the Ottoman constitution of
1876-78 was short-lived, followed by Sultan Abdul-Hamid's autocratic rule,
the Young Turks Revolution of 1908 re-instated it (Kayali 1995). In Iran,
the Tobacco Revolt of 1891, the assassination of Nasser ed-Din Shah in 1898,
and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-09 can be all traced back to Afghani's
influence. However, the Shi'a Ulama in Iran were somewhat divided on constitutionalism.
A dominant faction led by two ayatollahs, Behbahani and Tabatabai, supported
the constitutional movement. Another faction, led by a more learned and
respected Ayatollah Nuri, opposed constitutionalism on the ground that secular,
parliamentary legislation violated the Shari'a. Following the success of
the revolutionaries, the latter was hanged on charges of murder. Seventy
years later in the Islamic Republican Revolution of 1979, Nuri was resurrected
as the hero of the Islamic revolutionaries (Keddie 1999, 61).
The nascent nationalist and democratic movements were facing strong foreign
enemies. In Iran, the secret Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1907 divided the country
into three spheres of influence with Russia controlling the northern provinces
while Britain controlled the southern provinces. The central provinces were
left to the Iranian government to operate as a buffer zone (Schuster 1912).
In Egypt, the revolt of Egyptian military officers in 1881 under Col. Ahmed
Arabi was inspired by Afghani. This was the first open expression of a nationalist
movement directed against foreign and Turkish domination that also called
for constitutional government. After a period of turmoil, in 1888, the British
effectively turned Egypt and the Suez Canal into their own protectorate.
Under Lord Cromer and Lord Kitchner, Egypt as well as Sudan became virtual
Incremental secularization and democratization during the 19th century
thus had a spotty and lop-sided achievement. The new constitutions of Iran,
Turkey, and later Egypt (1922) were copies of the constitutions of Western
parliamentary monarchies introducing democratic and secular legislation.
Although Western powers paid lip service to the democratic ideals, their
policies were dictated more by their inter-imperialist rivalries or cooperation
than by a genuine desire to see the Middle East move toward secular and
democratic societies. As a result of increasing Western penetration of the
Middle East, dualistic cultural and political development became the main
historic trend in the 20th century. In the Iranian constitution, for instance,
an article called for a committee of five mujtahids to pass judgement
on the laws passed by the Majlis to make sure that they conform to the Shari'a.
But this article was never enacted. Narrowly based ruling elites often sided
with Western powers in policies of secularization without democratization.
In the meantime, the masses were kept relatively uneducated and steeped
in their religious beliefs and practices.
Radical Secularization without Democratization
The next chapter in Middle Eastern secularization begins with the Inter-war
period (1918-1940). The defeat of the Ottomans and the occupation and fragmentation
of Iran brought into play two strongmen on the horseback. In the name of
national salvation, Kemal Ataturk in Turkey and Reza Shah in Iran led vigorous
national unification, modernization, and secularization campaigns that excluded
democratization from their agendas. In this respect, Turkey was generally
ahead of Iran. Reza Shah thus followed Ataturk's lead. However, given the
exceptional power of the Shi'a Ulama in Iran, Reza Shah's achievement was
perhaps the more remarkable. As Prime Minister, Reza Khan (later Reza Shah
Pahlavi) toyed with the idea of replacing the Qajar monarchy with a republic.
But the Ulama's opposition dissuaded him. The Ulama clearly saw Ataturk's
example as a threat to their own power. Instead, under Reza Khan's direction,
the Majlis passed a resolution in 1925 to replace the Qajar Dynasty with
the Pahlavi Dynasty, a name that invoked pre-Islamic nationalist memories.
In the rest of the Middle East (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine,
Transjordan, and the Persian Gulf emirates), the British and French colonial
powers were directly in charge. Although they followed less rigorous secularization
policies than Ataturk or Reza Shah, their agents were eager to reduce the
power of the Ulama. In contrast to Iran and Turkey, where authoritarian
secular nationalism dominated the scene, liberal nationalism in the Arab
world proved a more potent weapon against the colonial powers. Only in Saudi
Arabia where a new dynasty had come to power in the name of Wahhabi puritanism,
the Shari'a was the exclusive law.
The winds of nationalism in the Middle East at the turn of the 20th century
were so strong that they often swept the Ulama along. Nationalism, however,
converged with a number of other ideological trends, including Pan-Islamism,
Pan-Arabism, Pan-Turkism, Pan-Iranism, as well as liberalism and Marxism.
What unified these disparate ideologies was anti-imperialism. The sentiments
were directed against Western domination, but the primary attitude towards
Western science, technology, and culture was positive. This was particularly
true of Westernized intellectuals. Even among the Ulama, there were many
wishing to adopt the Western constitutional limits on the power of the ruling
The authoritarian nationalism of Ataturk and Reza Shah was heavily focused
on state and nation building rather than institutions of political participation.
Ataturk's instrument of modernization was the Republican People's Party,
formed on August 9, 1923, replacing all other political organizations. Its
program consisted of "Six Arrows: Republicanism, Nationalism, Populism,
Statism, Secularism, and Revolution". The arrow of Secularism hit its
targets most expeditiously one after another:
- Abolition of the Caliphate on March 3, 1924 (since the early 16th century,
the Ottoman sultans had laid claim to the title of Caliph of the Muslims).
- Abolition of religious schools and courts.
- Adoption of Western-style clothing.
- Abolition of Sufi brotherhoods.
- Emancipation of women, including the rights of voting and standing
for election, abolition of polygamy, turning marriage into a civil contract
and divorce into a civil action.
- Adoption of the Swiss civil code, the Italian penal code, and the German
commercial code in place of the Shari'a
- Adoption of Latin alphabet to replace Arabic script in which Ottoman
Turkish language had been written. This had the effect of cutting the younger
generation from the Islamic historical memories and literature, but it
also led to an increase in literacy.
- Adoption of Western style surnames in place of old Islamic names and
With some delay, Reza Shah in Iran followed essentially the same secularization
policies. He did not, however, have the instrument of a political party
and faced the opposition of a retrenched Ulama. He took away the schools
and the courts from the control of the Ulama, but left personal affairs
(marriage, divorce, and inheritance) largely under the control of the Shari'a.
Although he succeeded in some of his social secularization policies (unveiling
of women, institution of Western style clothing, adoption of surnames, and
compulsory military conscription), he could not go far enough to grant suffrage
to women or abolish polygamy. Even so, his social reforms were strongly
resisted in some provinces (Bahar & Tafreshi n.d.).
There was initially a high degree of consensus about secularization among
the ruling elite in Turkey and Iran. As many of those goals were achieved,
many Turkish and Iranian nationalists wished to see more democratic regimes.
In fact, Atatürk experimented in 1930 with the creation of an opposition
party led by his longtime associate Ali Fethi, but its immediate and overwhelming
success caused Atatürk to suppress it. In his later years, both Atatürk
and Reza Shah grew more remote from their people--Ataturk by reason of excessive
drinking and ill health; Reza Shah by reason of excessive autocracy and
greed. Ataturk left a secular republican legacy behind him in Kemalism that
continues to this day as the dominant ideology of the Turkish ruling elite.
By contrast, Reza Shah's legacy was challenged from the secular left as
well as religious right as soon as, in 1941, he was forced into exile by
the Allied powers.
In contrast to Iran and Turkey, the Egyptian monarchy (1922-52) was torn
between the King, the Wafd Party, and the British. The constitution (promulgated
in 1923) was, like the Iranian constitution, based on that of Belgium. But
Egyptian constitutionalism was as illusory as Egyptian independence. King
Fu'ad was never popular and was prepared to intrigue with the nationalists
or with the British to secure his powers. With its mass following, elaborate
organization, and charismatic leadership of Sa'ad Zaghlul, the Wafd was
the only truly national party in Egypt. Ideologically, it stood for national
independence against the British and for constitutional government against
royal autocracy. In practice--and increasingly after death of Zaghlul in
1927-- its leaders were prepared to make deals with the British or the King
to obtain or retain power. Personal and political rivalries led to the formation
of splinter parties, the first of which, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party,
broke off as early as 1922. The primary aim of the British government was
to secure imperial interests, especially the control of the Suez Canal.
Egyptian political conditions thus bred competition and maneuvering among
the parties representing different factions of the ruling elite.
Nevertheless, the dominant ideological trend in Turkey, Iran, and Egypt
during the inter-war period was the same-secular nationalism. Return to
pre-Islamic mythologies and memories was a distinctive feature of this nationalism.
Secular intellectual and political leaders considered religion a barrier
to modernization and turned to pre-Islamic lore for salvation. In Turkey,
Kemalism looked to the Turkik past in Central Asia and Anatolia to transform
Ottomanism into a Turkish identity not dependent on Islam. "Islamic"
dress was discouraged. Turkish was purged of its Arabic and Persian vocabularies
and Turkik equivalents were found or coined to replace them. History was
re-written to glorify Turkish origins and achievements. Zia Gökalp
(1876-1924), a leading Turkish intellectual, had already laid the ideological
foundations for Pan-Turkism and later secular Turkish nationalism confined
only to the Ottoman Turks. Although he did not live long enough to see his
dreams realized, he was elected to the Parliament of the new republic shortly
before he died. His influence on the development of Turkish secular nationalism
was next to that of Ataturk himself (EBO 2000).
In Iran, the secularists argued that the Arabs had imposed Islam on the
Iranians and that the Islamic period represented a decline in Iranian civilization.
Return to ancient Iranian architecture, names, celebrations, and customs
were encouraged. Zoroastrianism as the religion of pre-Islamic Iran was
celebrated. An Academy of Iranian Languages was established to purge Persian
of its Arabic vocabulary and to replace it with revived or newly coined
words. The leading Iranian intellectuals in the development of a secular
nationalist ideology were Mirza Malkam Khan, Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzadeh,
Mirza Agha Khan Kermani, Hassan Taqizadeh, Seyyed Jamal ed-Din Esfahani
and his son Seyed Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, Sadeq Hedayat, and Ahmad Kasravi.
Some of these intellectuals, novelists, preachers, and politicians came
from clerical backgrounds adopting a secular, freethinking ideology. Among
them, Ahmad Kasravi (1980-1946) went farthest in his anti-clerical views
by establishing a religion of pakdini (pure religion) that tried
to purge all metaphysics and superstition. He paid for his beliefs when
in 1946, a Fadaii Islam zealot assassinated him (Keddie 1981, ch. 8; Kasravi
In Egypt, an influential intellectual, Taha Hussein (1889-1973), connected
his country's national identity with Pharaonic times and with Mediterranean-European
culture. Having been educated at Al-Ahzar (the oldest Islamic university),
the newly- established secular Cairo University, and Sorbonne, he was uniquely
qualified to challenge religious beliefs and establishments. He was eventually
declared an apostate by the Ulama. But this did not prevent him from serving
as minister of education (1950-52) in the last Wafd government before the
overthrow of monarchy. During his tenure, he vastly extended state education
and abolished school fees. Secularists such as Taha Hussein considered Egypt
capable of easily partaking of modern Western civilization. Religious differences
were considered of no consequence. Muslims, Copts, and Jews were considered
equally Egyptian. The development of a standard literary Arabic, fusha,
emphasized the unity of all Arabs, regardless of confession.
In all three countries (Turkey, Iran, and Egypt), these approaches allowed,
indeed required, all religious communities to partake of a single legal
and societal system, at the price of denying the Muslim loyalty of the majority
of the population. By contrast, in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Islam played
a primary role in the formation of a national identity. In Pakistan, it
provided an alternative for Muslims who would have otherwise had to share
in an identity defined by a Hindu majority in independent India. In spite
of the fact that Mohammad Ali Jinah (1876-1948) was himself a thoroughly
secular, British-educated barrister, he led the Muslims into partition from
India. In Saudi Arabia, the state was forged in the image of the Wahhabi
fundamentalist faith. Elsewhere in the Arab world, especially in the Maghrib,
secular nationalism's downgrading of Islam was muted by a qualified acceptance
of Islam as one, but not the only, important source of loyalty.
The main instrument of secular nationalism, in turn, was secular education.
This was as true for the three large states as for the smaller ones in the
region. Secular education could provide not only skilled human power for
modernization; it also could inculcate the civic virtues necessary for modern
citizenship. Educational expansion, however, was more rapid in independent
countries (Turkey and Iran) than in the colonies. In Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia,
Morocco, and Algeria, educational policy mirrored French interests. In Egypt,
Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq, British policy was dominant. Both colonial
powers followed similar policies: to preserve the status quo, train a limited
number of native administrators, arrest nationalism, and, in the case of
France, promote its own culture and language. Accordingly, they limited
educational growth. The colonial powers favored private, foreign, and missionary
schools for the upper classes. The public systems were centrally administered.
Their curricula were often copied from the British or the French and therefore
of limited relevance to local needs. The quantity and quality of teachers
were inadequate, and dropout rates were high. Few modern schools were to
be found in the Arabian Peninsula. Only in Lebanon and in the Jewish community
in Palestine, large numbers of students were enrolled in modern schools.
Elsewhere, only a small percentage of the populace (including a few women)
received a modern education.
Following its independence, each country nationalized some of its private
schools, which were regarded as promoting alien religions and cultures.
Each country also greatly expanded educational opportunities, especially
at the upper levels. In 1925, Egypt nationalized a private institution founded
in Cairo in 1908 and made it into a national university and subsequently
opened state universities in Alexandria (1942) and 'Ain Shams (1950). The
newly independent countries also sought to equalize educational opportunities.
Iraq provided free tuition and scholarships to low-income students. In 1946,
Syria made primary education free and compulsory. Jordan enacted a series
of laws calling for free and compulsory education and placed strict controls
on foreign schools, especially the missionary ones.
Despite progress, secular education could not overcome the existing cultural
and social obstacles to universal education. The modern educational systems
were divided into schools for the masses and for the elite. Both types coexisted
uneasily with the traditional Islamic schools, which ran the gamut from
traditional maktabs (primary schools) to the venerable al-Azhar University.
Educational participation rates in the secular schools stood at relatively
In both Turkey and Iran, progress toward secular education was more strident.
Ataturk and to a lesser degree Reza Shah were determined secularizers. Ataturk
closed the religious schools, promoted coeducation, prepared new curricula,
emphasized vocational and technical education, launched a compulsory adult
education project, and established the innovative Village Institutes program
to train rural teachers. In 1933, he reorganized Istanbul University into
a modern institution ad later established Ankara University. In Iran, Reza
Shah followed similar policies. He integrated and centralized the educational
system, expanded the schools, especially the higher levels, founded the
University of Tehran (1934), sent students abroad for training, moved against
the Islamic schools, promoted the education of women, and inaugurated an
adult education program. Nevertheless, the Iranian educational system remained
small and elitist (Menashri 1992).
Following World War II, secular socialist "revolutions" led
by the military regimes called for universal primary education, an emphasis
upon vocational training, expansion of the higher levels, and the promotion
of women's education. Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, and the Ba'athist regimes
in Syria and Iraq promoted their secular Pan-Arab ideologies by means of
the mass media (notably newspapers and radio broadcasting). Their aim was
to transform society and culture. They integrated and unified the educational
system by bringing the religious schools under secular control. All public
education was made free, and strong efforts were made to universalize primary
education, to upgrade technical and vocational education, and to improve
the quality of education generally.
In North Africa, the substitution of Arabic for French as the language
of instruction presented yet other difficulties. When Tunisia, Algeria and
Morocco gained independence from France, most teachers taught only in French.
Appropriate texts in Arabic were not available. By the 1980s the Arabization
process remained incomplete; in all three countries, some instruction was
still being given in French.
Generally speaking, the educational reforms did not always produce the
anticipated results. Egypt failed to devise a coherent fit between educational
expansion and developments in other sectors. Tunisia, too, despite large
investments, was unable to coordinate educational expansion with the needs
of the economy. Above all, secular education was no match for the powerful
religious beliefs of the incoming students who were from the more traditional
lower strata of society with Islamic rather than secular orientations.
Islamization with/out Democratization
Recent decades have witnessed mounting social and political mobilization
in the Middle East. An Islamic resurgence against secular policies of the
20th century has been an integral part of this mobilization. Rapid urbanization,
increasing literacy, deepening media exposure, and a demographic revolution
that has tilted the population composition toward the young have catapulted
the more religious, lower strata of society onto the political scene. Yet,
formation of democratic institutions of political participation (trade unions,
voluntary associations, political parties, and free elections) has not kept
pace with increasing mobilization. If we consider political development
and democracy to be a function of institutionalization of political participation,
the outcome of this lag has been political decay rather than development,
i. e. rise of underground political activism, violence, and terrorism (Huntington
Much of this activism has expressed itself in Islamic terms. As the lower
strata of society have gained increasing access to cities, literacy, and
the media, their Islamic leaders and movements have best articulated their
political aspirations. In contrast, by their close association with Western
powers and interests, the secular elites have largely lost the competition
for the political imagination and loyalties of this mobilized, semi-urbanized,
youthful, and often unemployed or underemployed population.
The historical roots of Islamic resurgence are embedded in the social
structure of Middle Eastern societies. As a crossroad of major population
movements in history, the Middle East has been an ethnic melting pot for
centuries. Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Jews, Copts, Maronites,
Druzes, and Assyrians have lived, inter-married, and interacted with each
other for a very long time indeed. The Medina Constitution of Prophet Mohammad
(622-632) had found an ingenious solution to the problem of ethnic and religious
diversity. It gave religious and political autonomy to the Peoples of the
Book (ahl al-kitab) requiring them to pay special taxes (jizyah)
in return for protection. Successive Islamic empires adopted this constitutional
regime under what came to be known as the millet system. The system
produced a high level of tolerance for the minorities.
Modeled after the European Westphalian order of territorial nation-states,
secular nationalism inevitably exacerbated ethnic and religious tensions.
As Iranian, Arab, and Turkish secular nationalist regimes reconstructed
the Middle Eastern states in the image of newly-defined, purist models of
"nations", their traditional Muslim population as well as their
ethnic minorities were increasingly put into a defensive position. Long
before the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, which dramatized the vulnerability
of the secular nationalist regimes, a number of Islamic thinkers had opposed
nationalism altogether. In India, Mawlana Abu'l-'Cia' Mawdudi, who was the
founder of the Jama'at-i Islami, opposed both secular and religious nationalism
and argued for the Islamization of society as an alternative to nationalism.
Mawdudi later became the most influential Islamic ideologue in the formation
of Pakistan. In Egypt, Sayyid Qutb and Hasan al-Banna', who were the mentors
of the Muslim Brotherhood, fought for the educational, moral, and social
reform of Egyptian society and indeed of all Islamdom. In Iran, Ayatollah
Shaikh Fazlullah Nuri (d. 1909), Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini (1902-1989),
and a French-educated sociologist Ali Shariati led the charge against secular
nationalism. Among the Islamic ideologues, Khomeini was perhaps the most
daring to call for the overthrow of all secular regimes by replacing them
with Islamic republics led by Islamic jurists (fuqaha), i. e. vicars
of God on earth (Khomeini 1981; Keddie 1981, 205-213; Tehranian 1992).
Given their significantly different conditions, Middle East societies
have experienced the Islamic resurgence in different ways. At the risk of
over-simplifying a very complex and evolving situation, Middle Eastern countries
can be divided into five groups with respect to the relations between mosque
1) Convergence of mosque and state: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan
2) Suppression of mosque by state: Turkey, Algeria, Iraq, Syria
3) Confessional: Lebanon
4) Uneasy Coexistence: Egypt, Israel
5) Evolving Coexistence: Jordan, Kuwait
For reasons that have been already reviewed in this chapter, the Shi'a
Ulama in Iran were possessed of sufficient financial and administrative
autonomy to be able to fill the political vacuum left by a monarchical regime.
The story of the Iranian revolution has been extensively researched and
published and need not detain us here (Keddie 1981; Saikal 1980; Tehranian
1992). Two men who are not normally credited for it paved the way for the
Islamic revolution. During his long tenure as the chief Shi'a mujtahid
(marja' taqlid), Ayatollah Boroujerdi (d 1961) created a virtual
state within the state by developing the most extensive financial and administrative
system that the Shi'a Ulama had achieved up to that time. By pursuing a
policy of modernization without democratization, Mohammad Reza Shah also
had created a political vacuum. By destroying all secular communist and
liberal sources of opposition, the Shah's regime had thus paved the way
for the Shi'a clerical hegemony. Given the fact that the Shi'a Ulama are
rather decentralized in organization and financing, following the death
of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, significant differences among them have gradually
emerged. Three groups may be identified, including the conservatives led
by Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (Supreme Leader), liberals led by Seyyed
Mohammad Khatami (president since 1997), and pragmatists led by Hojjaul-Islam
Ali Akbar Rafsanjani (president during 1989-97). All three groups are united
in their goal of upholding the Islamic regime, but differ on how to respond
to the democratic pressures from below.
By comparison to the revolutionary regime in Iran, the theocratic regimes
in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Sudan are politically repressive and socially
conservative. The Saudi regime has been intolerant towards the rights of
women and minorities. The Taliban in Afghanistan were brought to power by
United States arms, Saudi money, and Pakistan military leadership. They
have suppressed women and minorities. The Sudanese regime has been engaged
in a bloody civil war against its own Christian population in the south.
In December 1999, however, President Omar el- Bashir deposed the clerical
parliamentary speaker and political strongman Hassan Turabi. The president's
increasing power suggests that he can normalize relations with Sudan's neighbors
and bring perhaps some stability to this corner of the African continent.
The second group of regimes, including those in Turkey, Algeria, Iraq
and Syria, are secularists with little tolerance toward their Islamic oppositions
and critics. As Hakan Yavuz (2000, 34) argues,
"The social fault lines that have emerged in Turkey because of the
crisis of Kemalism and growing economic inequalities involve four major
actors: the military, which uses Kemalism to legitimize its dominant institutional
position; the TUSIAD [Association of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen],
which also controls the major media outlets; Sunni Islamic groups, which
are divided into four major factions; and Turkish ethnic and sectarian minorities,
mainly the Kurds and Alevis. The fault line these actors straddle do not
represent 'ancient hatreds' between competing groups. They are instead a
product of a closed political system whose military-bureaucratic guardians
have played an active role in aggravating societal divisions".
Although the situation in each country is unique and requires its own
analysis (see the relevant chapters in this volume), many of the same problems
apply to Algeria, Iraq, and Syria, where military-bureaucratic regimes are
presiding over restive civil societies. By contrast to Turkey, where the
Islamic resurgence has been relatively non-violent, the latter three countries
have experienced militant and violent Islamic movements. In Iraq and Syria,
the iron hand of the state has so far squashed the movements. In Algeria,
following the cancellation of the 1992 elections in which the Islamic Salvation
Front (ISF) won a majority of the National Assembly seats, a merciless civil
war started pitting the military regime against the militant Muslims. However,
by the election of Abdelaziz Bouteflike to the presidency in 1999, Algeria
has inaugurated a new phase of reconciliation between the secular and religious
elements. According to Robert Mortimer (2000, 13), "despite his lack
of electoral legitimacy, Bouteflike has the skills to lead Algeria out of
the nightmare of the 1990s."
Because of its high literacy and civil society strength, Lebanon has
always enjoyed a higher level of democratic freedoms than most other Middle
Eastern societies (Ibrahim 1999). Through a national compact, the Lebanese
political system has attempted to maintain a delicate balance between its
main religious-ethnic communities. The resulting confessional system has
reserved the presidency for a Maronite, the premiership for a Sunni, and
the speakership of the Parliament for a Shi'a. The civil war of the 1980s
disturbed this delicate balance, which had to be reconstructed through hard
negotiations by giving more power to the under-represented Shi'a population.
The presence of Syrian forces in Lebanon currently guarantees short-term
and undermines long-term stability. Nevertheless, Lebanon is now trying
to restore its democratic tradition.
Having had the longest experience with Islamic movements, the Egyptian
military-bureaucratic regime has led an uneasy coexistence with its militant
Muslims. President Gamal Abdul-Nasser (1954-1970) attempted to co-opt the
Ikhwan members by advancing reforms at home and militancy abroad while waging
battle against Israel. For a while in the 1960s, Nasser's banner of Pan-Arabism
could not be easily challenged. President Anwar Sadat (1970-1981) reversed
Nasser's policies by entering into a peace accord with Israel, befriending
the West, and inaugurating economic liberalization. He also confronted the
Muslim militants by repressive measures that led to his assassination. As
Selim persuasively argues in this volume, Egypt launched a process of democratic
transformation in the mid-1970s that has been stalled.
Democratization from above is thus the norm in the Middle East wherever
pressures from below build up sufficiently to threaten the regimes. In the
aftermath of the Iranian revolution, decline of oil revenues in the 1980s
and 1990s, and the Persian Gulf War of 1991, several Middle Eastern regimes
had to liberalize to survive. The logic of rentier states that generally
deny participation in recompense for no taxation, has been greatly undermined.
In Jordan, for example, high levels of debt, inflation, and the expulsion
of Palestinians from Kuwait into Jordan strained the financial capabilities
of the state (Wiktorowicz 1999). The 1989 riots in southern towns populated
by Jordanian tribes loyal to the Hashemite throne awakened King Hussein
to the need for democratization. The parliamentary elections that were subsequently
held allowed multi-party competition, including some Islamic militants who
made it to the Parliament. Following the ascension of King Abdullah to the
throne in February 1999, severe limits on political activity have been re-introduced.
Similarly in Kuwait after the Gulf War, the regime could no longer resist
the demands for the revival of the Parliament. In 1999, however, the Parliament
rejected the Amir's proposal for the extension of suffrage to women. As
demonstrated also in the Iranian and Algerian revolutions, political participation
by patriarchal Middle Eastern men often denies political democracy to women.
This chapter has limited its analysis of secularization and democratization
in the Middle East to primarily internal rather than external factors. In
a region that has been dominated by foreign powers for the past two centuries,
this analysis may be considered incomplete. Nevertheless, it has been argued
here that foreign domination has played a critical role in creating serious
obstacles to secularization and democratization. While Western powers have
generally supported secularization, they have often stood on the way of
democratization by supporting client dictatorial regimes. In contrast to
the Western historical experience in which secular nationalism and liberal
democracy undermined the authority of the Church, Middle Eastern anti-imperialism
has brought the Ulama, nationalists, and democrats into an uneasy alliance.
In recent decades, however, that alliance has been fractured by the increasing
militancy of Islamism as evidenced notably in Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan,
The chapter also has identified the varieties of state-mosque relations
with respect to secularization and democratization trends. These varieties
include convergence of state and mosque, suppression of mosque by the state,
confessionalism as well uneasy and evolving coexistence. The interactions
of secularization and democratization have been thus too complex to lend
themselves to any facile generalization. Radical secularization as typified
by Kemalist Turkey and Iran under the Pahlavis followed an authoritarian
path. A more liberal secularization regime as typified by Egypt has led
to an evolving co-existence between state and the mosque. Middle East's
multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies, however, best lend themselves
to constitutional regimes that allow freedom and autonomy for the varieties
of religious communities. The Lebanese confessional system best typifies
such a regime.
If we consider democracy as a process of broadening and deepening of
political participation, its minimal requirements are popular sovereignty,
electoral representation, and civil liberties, which together may be identified
as political democracy. Social democracy goes beyond this minimum requirement
by providing equality of opportunity and social security for all citizens.
Cultural democracy goes even further by providing freedom of identity negotiations
with respect to language, religion, ethnicity, gender, and life styles.
While some Middle Eastern societies have made halting progress toward political
democracy, most of them have failed to make any significant strides toward
social or cultural democracy. In rentier states where falling windfall revenues
(from oil or immigrants' remittances) are forcing the states to concede
democratic freedoms to their civil societies (notably Iran, Jordan, and
Algeria), prospects for democracy currently seem more encouraging.
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Majid Tehranian is professor of international communication at the University
of Hawaii and director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy
Research. A graduate of Harvard with a doctorate in political economy, his
teaching and research have focused on international peace, security, communication,
and development. He is former director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace
at the University of Hawaii (Honolulu), Iran Communication and Development
Institute (Tehran), communication research and planning at UNESCO (Paris),
and trustee of International Institute of Communications (London). His latest
books are Technologies of Power: Information Machines and Democratic
Prospects (1990), Letters from Jerusalem (1990), Restructuring
for Ethnic Peace (1991), Restructuring for World Peace: At the Threshold
of the 21st Century (1992), Global Communication and World Politics
(1999); Worlds Apart: Human Security and Global Governance (1999);
Asian Peace: Security and Governance in the Asia Pacific Region (1999).
He also edits Peace & Policy. Since 1981, he has been banished
paradise where he surfs the Pacific and the Net at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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