Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

CSID Panel Addresses Redefining U.S. Policy toward MENA

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

CSID Panel Addresses Redefining U.S. Policy toward MENA

Article excerpt

The final panel at CSID's 15th annual conference discussed redefining U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The speakers discussed the false choice between stability and democracy and how Washington must view policies in the region from a new perspective.

Dr. Jocelyne Cesari, director of the "Islam in the West" program at Harvard University, warned against attempting to export the Western model of secularization to other parts of the world.

"We think that the secular mind as we know it in the West exists the same way in the Muslim-majority countries. It does not, and not because Islam is incompatible with democracy. Actually, you do not need secularization to build democracy," Cesari noted. "To be secular does not mean to be democratic."

Cesari said that Islamic institutions work, explaining, "The change comes from people who are rooted in religion."

Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill warned against sacrificing democracy in the name of protecting rights. …

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