Briefing: Islam, democracy and public opinion in Africa

Type Journal Article - African Affairs
Title Briefing: Islam, democracy and public opinion in Africa
Volume 102
Issue 408
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2003
Page numbers 493-501
How do religious orientations, especially attachments to Islam, affect public support for democracy in sub-Saharan Africa? Reasonable people are divided on this important, timely, and politically loaded question. Some influential observers allege that Islam and democracy are incompatible. For example, Huntington argues that, because the Koran rejects the distinction between religious and political authority, Islamic civilization cannot easily co-exist with democracy. And Kedourie holds that mass suffrage, elections, and representation are ‘profoundly alien to the Muslim political tradition’. Others disagree. Esposito and Voll stress the diverse spectrum of conservative and progressive tendencies within Islam, including new movements that seek to reconcile religious resurgence and democratization. Filali-Ansary goes even further, claiming that values of freedom and accountability, normally identified as Western concepts, can be found in early Islam.

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