“The Middle East Path to Democracy”
by Tarek Heggy. -------------------------------------------
One of the huge mistakes made by numerous people from all backgrounds is in the belief that the current Middle Eastern and North African societies could become democratic. My fifty years indulgence with this region s history, politics and cultures brought about the realisation how impossible this ambition is. The obstacle that renders such a desired transformation not to occur is neither related to the rulers nor to the political lives in the societies of this region. The obstacle is, simply, deeply rooted in the region s societies and specifically in their condition as extremely theocratic societies. I now, after five decades of studying and writing about this region s problems, have no doubt that the first step towards the democratisation of Middle Eastern and North African states is to secularise such societies. Once the majority of the sons and daughters of the societies of this region believe in the separation between the state and religion, the political lives of this region will be on the path of democratisation. The external parties imagining that the immediate democratisation of this region s countries is doable must relinquish such a Utopian target and focus on the mechanisms that could assist these societies to surpass the current theocratic condition that impedes the targeted separation between Religion and the State. The mechanisms that would move the sons and daughters from their current mixture between Religion and the State are a combination of cultural, media, educational and political schemes. The focus on tailoring and introducing such schemes must replace the blind endeavours such as the so-called Arab Spring and the far from wise attempts to force the change of regimes similar to the catastrophes that occurred in Libya and Syria. In an ideal and ethical globe, the international society would tailor schemes combining economic and trade deals to create the appropriate societal atmosphere for such an imperative transformation from the current condition where Religion is an involved factor in all public life spheres to the targeted separation between Religion and the State.