Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East

Article excerpt

The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East. By Joshua Muravchik. New York: Encounter Books, 2009. 372 pp. $25.95.

Muravchik, a fellow at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, offers a panorama of Middle Eastern democracy advocates through profiles of sevenprominent campaigners forpopular sovereignty. Each of these portraits supports the case for Western encouragement of rapid and positive political change in the Middle East.

Of the seven, Mithal al-Alusi and Mohsen Sazegara are the two most interesting. Alusi, an Arab Sunni living in the predominantly Shiite area of Baghdad's Sadr City, came to international attention in 2005 after he had attended an international conference on terrorism affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. He made no attempt to conceal his presence there, and as a result, was expelled from Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC). Upon his return to Baghdad, there were accusations of spying for Israel and attempts to kill him, along with a refusal by the U.S. authorities for protection. The result? The murder of his two sons, Ayman and Jamal,3 along with a devoted supporter considered his "third son."

Despite this, Alusi was elected to Iraq's national assembly at the end of 2005 as the sole successful candidate of the secularist Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation, which he created. Although unseated in the 2010 Iraqi election, Alusi's saga of dedication to the democratization of his country, as well as his personal sacrifice, justifies Muravchik's enthusiasm about the yearning for liberation current in the Middle East. …

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