If Democracy means extending government for the people, by the people and a parliament aims for unanimous decision: should we really include those who limit the functions of a democratic process in a democracy? In every other third world country Islamic fundamentalists seem to be stemming the tide for reform and progress. They call for the full implementation of the Shariah or Islamic law. For them this is the sole approach to politics and the only way ahead. Recently the regime in Egypt is seriously considering the removal of Islamic fundamentalists from the parliamentary process. This might just be a wise decision.
The one essential thing we must understand about this position is that the Shariah law cannot be implemented in a modern day’s society. The full Shariah law in its entirety would call upon acts of punishments such as Stoning to death, castration and flogging. This can only be seen as crude and primitave rationale in the 21stcentruy. And if you may ask why refer to such punishments as un-fit, the answer is simple. Mankind has progressed beyond that stage in evolution. The French revolutionaries in 1789 marked a turn from the gruesome means of torture prevalent under absolutism. The revolution conceived the guillotine. Although this may seem horrible today, it was perhaps the most forgiving way to punish someone in that century. The iron blade would come clambering down on the criminal and within an an instant he was killed. Within an instant he was set free. Therefore humanity should not stand in oblivion to the progress they have so skillfully made over the centuries. We must accept developments and move with the times rather than idealize about turning back the clocks.
Islamic fundamentalism is a dangerous threat to regimes and coalition governments in the third world. It is almost tradition for each party to have at least some elements of fundamentalism on their agenda. This is particularly prevalent in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Both conservative and liberal parties appropriate Fundamentalism into their campaigns to boost popularity and support. The reason for this is evident. These countries have a narrow middle class electoral participation rate. With the majority of the lower groups of society remaining illiterate, it is only the religiously minded who jump to the call to give in their votes in the polls. Inevitably they chose to vote for the fundamentalists and their extremist propositions. Governments find themselves walking a tight rope. On one side they have their agenda and policy to consider. And on the other hand there remain those unfulfilled promises of bringing Islamic reform into the constitution.
These act as curbs on the entire government process. The government is forced to appease its poll supporters and cannot carry out simple policy. Even the most basic of reforms must be submitted for the approval of the fundamentalists. This makes us question as to who is really in power of the government. Martial law administrators are no exception to this. General Zia and General Pervez Musharraf have both followed a tight policy aimed at pacifying the fundamentalists. Terrorist cell activities and the works of A.Q khan have all been defended for this fundamentalist end.
When we hear pleas from Amnesty Internationals to Egypt to re-consider its move against fundamentalists we really wonder what the basis of their argument is. Are human rights being violated by banning fundamentalists from the parliament or are rights being violated by allowing them to be there.
Shahryar Malik FY