Hopes dim for religious freedom, democracy in Islamic world: Vatican analyst
April 04, 2011
The "Arab spring" uprisings that seemed to promise a move toward secular democracy in the Islamic world is now unlikely to produce that goal, according to an influential Vatican analyst.
Father Samir Khalil Samir, SJ, notes that a move toward democracy favors groups that are already organized, and those groups are primarily Islamic. So a "democratic" government might enact new restrictions on religious freedom, and worried Catholics find themselves supporting authoritarian regimes that are more likely to preserve existing religious liberties.
"Democracy and secularism seems to be an impossible combination," Father Samir writes. The noteworthy exception to this rule is Lebanon, where Christians and Muslims have managed to work together in a government that respects religious pluralism.