Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The ballot box can moderate Islamists |

The ballot box can moderate Islamists "How can the moderates be strengthened in this internal debate?
One possibility is to create a path to power that rewards moderation.
The Egyptian government can play an important role in this process by enforcing laws that keep public debate within democratic and inclusive boundaries. This would entail, particularly, the clear and consistent enforcement of laws that protect the rights of non-Muslims and women. Egypt's existing laws prohibit statements and actions that incite sectarian strife. They also protect the rights of women at school, in the workplace, and at home. However, these laws are enforced inconsistently.
Some radical Islamists have incited violence against the Copts and faced little or no punishment. Others have undertaken extensive campaigns to limit the rights of women to education and careers. Enforcing prohibitions on these types of speech and action would constitute an infringement on freedom, but even established democracies - including the US - accept that public order and safety sometimes require limiting personal liberties. In the Egyptian case, these restrictions would force all factions of the Brotherhood to play the political game according to democratic rules of equality and tolerance. It would make clear that the price of admission to the political marketplace is the development of a moderate and inclusive ideology.
With these boundaries to political action and debate in place, the Brotherhood should be permitted to compete in free and fair elections at both the local and national level."

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