America & Iran: Out of Step With Democracy and Islam

America & Iran out of step with democracy and Islam

By Abid Mustafa

Even before a single vote had been cast, America had already decided to
dismiss the Iranian presidential election. Bush said, “Power is in the hands
of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process
that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.” After the election,
America was quick to describe the electoral process as flawed and that Iran
was out of step with moves towards democracy in the region.

Yet scrutiny of American actions in the region and beyond demonstrates that
it is America that is out of step with democracy. One of the basic tenets of
democracy is that elections must be held fairly and free from local or
foreign interference.

However, this was not observed during the elections in Palestine, Iraq and
Afghanistan. These elections were conducted under foreign occupation,
insecurity was rampant, voters were too frightened to vote and the turnout
was dubious to say the least. Despite this, the elections were hailed by
America as a victory for democracy.

Furthermore, the selection of the leaders, the formulating of the
constitutions and the convening of elections were all conducted under the
guardianship of America. America hand picked Abbas, Karzia and Jaffari to
oversee the implementation of pro-American policies. In the case of
Afghanistan and Iraq, America used the Loya Jirga and Iraqi Governing
Council to enshrine American inspired canons that would ensure her dominance
over the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Undeterred and unashamed, America still continues to interfere in the
electoral process of many Muslim countries Threatened by Islamists, America
has taken the precautionary step of postponing the parliamentarian elections
in Afghanistan and Palestine. In the case of Palestine, America ordered by
Abbas to amend election law, so as to prevent Hamas from winning a majority
of the seats in the parliament.

America’s unabashed support for the municipal elections in Saudi-Arabia, the
upcoming presidential elections in Egypt and her silence over the low
turnout in the Lebanese election (the turnout was higher during Syrian
occupation) stinks of hypocrisy and falls way short of the democracy
standards that are taught in American high schools.

In comparison, the presidential elections in Iran are much more credible.
Elections were conducted in relative safety with a 62% voter turn out. This
was 2% higher than 2004 US presidential election. There may have been
irregularities as voiced by Rafsanjani but these pale into insignificance
when compared to the farce of the 2000 US presidential race.

Rather than preaching to Muslim countries about the virtues of democracy,
America should examine its own handiwork at subverting democracy in the
region. Surely it is America that is out of step with democracy.

Those who argue that the election of Ahmadinejad will usher in a
fundamentalist government are equally mistaken. Since the Iranian
revolution, Iran has never been the bastion of Islam. A cursory study of
Iran’s constitution inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini shows that it is a
secular autocratic state which limits the role of Islam in social,
educational, economic, and foreign affairs. The few laws of Islam that are
implemented are designed to mollify the Islamic sentiments of the people.

This gives Iran an Islamic appearance, similar to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan
which also pretend to be Islamic. Professing Iran to be Islamic, while
implementing non-Islamic rules makes the Iranian regime out of step with

Islam stipulates that Muslims must choose a ruler who will govern all
aspects of their lives according to the rules derived from the Quran and the
Sunnah. This can only be accomplished by electing a Khaleef and
re-establishing the Khilafah State. The Khilafah guarantees legitimate
representation for the ummah as well as ensuring that sovereignty belongs to

June 26, 2005

Abid Mustafa is a political analyst who specialises in Muslim affairs