Nor can I agree that Islamists, Hindutva groups or Khalistanis etc. can be described as 'religious parties'. I do not mean to justify alliances with 'secular' tyrants, but to remind anyone who cares to listen, that communalism is also an expression of tyranny. Communalists proceed on the assumption that membership of a religious community automatically produces a political interest, and strive to create that interest. They enter democratic movements masquerading as democrats, and for their own ends; there is little evidence that they undergo a democratic change of heart via such participation.
The author quotes Al-Azm as defining “democracy as a neutral ground for the meeting of the various religious doctrines and beliefs where they are allowed to interact in the public space, the national arena, and the political landscape.” This requires a crucial corollary: that participants in democratic polities be committed to upholding and defending that neutral ground. This can only be done by the maintenance of autonomous institutions and freedom of speech. Have the Islamists or other religion-based parties shown themselves to be respectful of democratic institutions? Or have they been using democracy to destroy it?
Notwithstanding all this, it is undoubtedly true that the Assad regime is one of the most brutal dictatorships in the Middle East. And that opposition to it has been unfairly and deliberately covered with a one-sided, blanket description, as if all opponents of Asad are Islamists. DS
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By Omair Anas
Rohini Hensman - The Fate of Syria Under Assad
In Sadiq Jalal al-Azm’s intellectual and activist life, one can read the story of betrayal of Arab and international Marxists, who sided with a tyrannical regime and justified everything to which Marxists had been hell bent opposed in the past. But Professor Sadiq Jalal al-Azm, despite being a Marxist, despite being one of the harshest critics of Islamists, honoured the principles and values he believed and advocated for his entire life.
Janet Afary & Kevin B. Anderson: Revisiting Foucault and the Iranian Revolution