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Reform and the human rights quandary: Islamists vs. secularists.

Decades of populist and revolutionary politics, statist development, maldistribution of wealth, public corruption, inefficiency, and repression have inhibited political and economic reforms in much of the Middle East. These problems have undermined the legitimacy of the region's secular regimes, while stimulating Islamic opposition. Although the roots of the Islamist movements in the Middle East can be traced back to the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Muslimin) in 1928, their political impact became increasingly pronounced after the Arab defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

Since then, many conflicts have erupted between secularists and Islamists. Secularists nullified an election that would have produced an Islamist victory in Algeria's 1992 elections and drove them out of power in Turkey in mid-1997. Whereas no political pact was ever made between the two sides in Algeria, the Islamists in Turkey had been a senior partner with the center-right True Path Party within a governing bloc. Islamists came to power via revolution in Iran in 1979, by way of an alliance with the army and a coup in Sudan in 1989, and as a result of a civil war in Afghanistan in 1997. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the activities of the Islamic Jihad Movement and the Movement of Islamic Resistance, also known as HAMAS, have become the most efficient response and the "natural" solution to social collapse. Faced with the impossibility of recovering their territory and the threat of social disintegration, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Back have provided the Islamist camp with a fertile recruiting ground.(1)

Radical Islamists have assaulted and assassinated government officials, secular and religious intellectuals, and journalists, have attacked religious minorities, and have engaged in international terrorism as in the case of New York's World Trade Center bombing.(2) In mid-1997, a German court ruled that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran was behind the 1992 terroristic incident in Berlin's Mykonos Restaurant in which three members of the Kurdish opposition and their aides were assassinated.

Throughout the Muslim world, Islamic movements have led to waves of Islamic awakening and fueled debates and conflicts. Dysfunctional secular regimes and Islamists have quarreled over the nature of reforms and the modern state. Even though the encounters in some instances have been violent, there is still an opportunity for most of the divergent Islamic groups, secular reformists, and the regimes to find grounds for accommodation. The pressures for reform could have been better managed had the authorities involved shown a genuine commitment to a democratic process. The present regimes of many Middle Eastern countries have not allowed democratic processes to proceed.

Secularists and Islamists have both played a role in promoting and diluting reforms and human rights in Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Their various approaches to liberalization and democratization deserve careful analysis. Two themes are particularly relevant to this essay. The first is the dysfunctional, corrupt, repressive, and isolated nature of the region's secular regimes. Their inability to put their economies on a sound footing, along with their reliance on foreign powers for protection and security, has generated crises of identity, legitimacy, and performance, provoking sharp debates in the Muslim world. Secondly, Islamists in power lack a coherent reform program and clear answers to individual rights, women's rights, or civil liberties. Their stance on human rights is marked by institutional and procedural ambiguities.(3) Likewise, those Islamists who are out of power, especially those striving to come to power, turn ideology into general policy in ways that often create problems and lack of "operational thrust."(4)


The cases of Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey illustrate the encounters between secularists and Islamists. Iran is a modern theocracy faced with countervailing secular pressures and internal divisions among its clerics over the extent to which they should interfere in politics. Turkey is led by a secular regime that has been challenged by Islamic groups since the mid-1990s. Algeria's Islamists have vehemently confronted the military-backed secular regime, and the country is being ripped apart by political violence and massacres that have left thousands of civilians dead. Since Zia's presidency, Pakistani regimes have adopted policies that reflect the country's blend of Islamic heritage and secular politics, with the army, civil bureaucrats, and feudals remaining as Pakistan's chief political players.

Algeria and Iran are rentier states that have relied on oil and natural gas revenues, failing to develop the means to deal with domestic interest groups. In both cases, the financial autonomy of the state has made it possible for different Algerian and Iranian governments to execute their policies without taking into account these groups' interests. This has, to a great extent, stunted the expansion of civil society in both countries. By contrast, in Pakistan, which is not a rentier state, and Turkey, which is only minimally a rentier state, governments have been relatively more responsive to indigenous interest groups.(5)

In the last two decades, these countries have experienced, to varying degrees, the rise of Islamism and the decline of secularism. In Turkey, economic issues have been the primary concern of the pressure groups, including the Islamists, which have frequently challenged the secular state. For the Iranian Islamists, on the other hand, cultural and moral issues played an important part in their resistance to the Shah's secular regime.(6) Algeria's current upheaval can best be described as an identity crisis precipitated by the state's crises of legitimacy and performance. Its Islamists seek moral and ideological directions different from those advocated by secular nationalists. In Pakistan, Islam had been invoked as a primary vehicle of mass politicization by both the government and the opposition, as in the March 1977 elections under Zulfaqar Ali Bhutto's regime. At times, Islam has dominated politics, economics, law, and social life, as in the Islamization of state and society under Zia's regime.(7) Although Pakistan's Islamists today freely participate in the political process, they are far from determining its outcome.


Islamists view Islam as a revitalized politico-religious vision and seek to advance its values, ideal, and institutions. They are characterized by a variety of ideological strands: some promote orthodox or conservative Islamic perspectives; others, usually called Islamic militants or radicals, use Islamic ideology to inspire political violence. Those dubbed "pragmatic Islamists" favor Islamic governance based on democratic principles. In the 1990s, this last group has increasingly entered the political fray, winning seats in countries as diverse as Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen.(8)

While the totalizing Islamist agenda has destroyed civil society in Sudan,(9) it is coming to grips with it in Iran, albeit slowly. Turkish Islamists have used civil and political processes to challenge the state-imposed secularization. Islamists are anchored more politically in Morocco than elsewhere in the Maghrib. In pre-1992 Algeria, Islamists worked more within the system than outside of it, advocating free elections and rejecting violence as a means of achieving their political objectives. Increasingly, secular regimes in the Middle East and North Africa have come under attack by the Islamists who have provided a social bulwark against corruption for the masses of people.

Secularists, on the other hand, emphasize the separation of religion and politics. They generally fall into two camps: secular conservatives and secular reformists. Largely represented by the ruling elites (e.g., the Baathists) and the armed forces, secular conservatives defend the status-quo and its symbols. Secular reformists, in contrast, are made up of intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, academics, human rights activists, technocrats, and professionals, who typically challenge the status quo through legal means. While secular reformists seek reconciliation with the Islamists, secular conservatives tend to confront them. Secular reformists and conservatives are as much at odds with each other as are secularists and the Islamists.

Secularists, either reformist or conservative, have governed most Middle Eastern countries since these countries gained independence from Western colonial rule. As staunch advocates of the separation of religion and politics, secularists have supported a complete secularization of legal and educational systems. While some secularists, such as Ataturk, Nasser, and the Shah, have adopted aggressive secularization methods and programs, others, such as Sadat and Zulfaqar Ali Bhutto, have manipulated Islamic symbols and pursued a more subtle and circumspect approach toward secularization. Current secular leaders of the Middle East, including King Abdullah, King Hussein II, Qadafi, Asad, Zeroual, Yilmaz, Saddam Hussein, and Mubarak, are similar in some ways and different in others.

Secularist regimes' abysmal records of economic and political development have furthered revivalist movements among disenchanted Muslims. In the absence of democratic means to resolve conflicts, such as political pacts, the rivalry between secularists and Islamists has led to colossal difficulties. Since 1992, a traumatized Algeria has been locked in a civil war between Islamists and the secular government that has taken an estimated 100,000 lives. Tunisia's Islamist political movement, al-Nahda, has been banned from participating in politics and contesting elections. In Turkey, under pressure from the military, the Islamist/Center-Right coalition government resigned in late June 1997. The heavy-handed policies of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have yet to silence the Islamic opposition. In fact, political repression in Egypt has been so pervasive that it would take Mubarak's regime a long time to repair the damage to the body politic.(10) The Islamist-led governments of Iran and Sudan have faced enormous internal pressures for political liberalization. In Saudi Arabia, where the government rules in accordance with the Shari'a, supplemented by royal decrees, the Islamist opposition to the royal family has been mounting.

In the occupied territories, the PLO-Hamas relationship remains potentially unpredictable, vacillating between rapprochement and estrangement. A neofascist Islamic group, called Taliban, controls a good portion of Afghanistan. Islamists in Pakistan too often hold secular governments to Islamic standards. In Yemen, the Islamic Islah Party, which represents the Islamists from the northern Hashed tribe, has consolidated its position since the 1994 civil war with the South. All over the region, Islamists pose serious challenges to existing secular regimes, which have chosen to respond to them by repression rather than reform. Such repressive policies and actions have in turn invoked violent reactions by the Islamists.


Modernization in the Muslim world has generated a visible upsurge in religious revivalism and spawned the rebirth of communal identity. The latter, experts argue, is an emphatic rejection of the amoral rationalism of secular modernity.(11) Economic liberalization undertaken in Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey has been seen largely as a way to appease civil society's push for change without seeking genuine economic reforms in the long run. While serious economic reform would, in some cases, pose a major challenge to the vested interests of the state authorities, it may, in other cases, sustain or reintroduce autocratic regimes. In Turkey, for instance, economic liberalization has been marked by both progress and regress and political liberalization by authoritarian and cautious measures.(12)

Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey today pursue post-populist economic strategies, promoting privatization and providing subsidies and investment incentives on a highly selective basis. Economic liberalization in these countries had thus far imposed unjust burdens on the most powerless and has sacrificed the human rights of those least able to prosper in the market.


Under Chadli Benjedid (1978-1991), Algeria shifted toward decentralization of state-owned enterprises and placed a new emphasis on economic liberalization. Benjedid's limited political liberalization program "helped disguised clampdowns on more serious (Berber and Islamic) opposition."(13) The economic liberalization of 1986-1987 and accompanying austerity measures hit the poorest and unemployed segments of the population the hardest, but still failed. The long-term national debt rose from $16.5 billion in 1985 to $25.5 billion in 1992.(14) Deepening poverty, public corruption, and inefficiency substantially eroded the legitimacy and popular mandate of the National Liberation Front (the Front de Lib6ration nationale--FNL).

The policies of economic liberalization were seriously challenged in 1988 when widespread riots paralyzed the country and forced Benjedid to initiate political reforms alongside of economic liberalization. There was a sense in which political liberalization had been delayed until the late 1980s, and when it came it was in response to an economic tinderbox and the strife of October 1988. Benjedid's policies, made even worse by the 1986 oil crisis, heavy debt burdens, and the paradoxes associated with liberalization, resulted in widespread popular dissatisfaction. To defuse tensions, Benjedid supported constitutional reforms, multiparty politics, and the legalization of the Islamic Salvation Front (the Front islamique du salut--FIS). The January 1992 military intervention, which robbed Islamists of their victory in the second round in parliamentary elections, ended the era of political liberalization.


With the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 and the subsequent failure of statist polices for a war-weary Iran, a calculated drive toward economic realism was initiated under then President Hashmi Rafsanjani. Structural adjustment (ta'dil-e eqtesadi) aimed at marketization of the economy became one of the regime's strategies for reconstruction.(15) The launching of the five-year development plan for the first reconstruction period (1989-1994) marked a decisive shift in policy toward privatization and a return to market mechanisms. The exchange and trading systems were revamped and simplified. Price controls were relaxed and rationing for most consumer items was eliminated. Fiscal subsidies to producers and consumers were either reduced or terminated. Many state enterprises were offered for sale to the private sector through the Tehran Stock Exchange. The rules governing labor relations were tightened. Outside participation, such as private foreign investment, joint-ventures, and association with multinational companies, was encouraged as part of the reconstruction effort.(16) In short, the Iranian state underwent a transition from populist to post-populist.

Since the early 1990s, Iran has voluntarily adopted the IMF's structural adjustment programs without asking for IMF loans in return. Its liberalization programs have thus far followed the Chinese model: an economic opening without political liberalization.(17) Mohammad Khatami, Iran's new president, who campaigned on a platform of greater political openness and tolerance, has vowed social reforms. He is seen as a "hopeful" sign under a stifling theocratic rule that has dominated the Iranian political scene since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran's privatization programs have been somewhat suspect. Some 86 percent of Iran's GDP comes from government-owned businesses. Of the 14 percent in the private sector, the largest part is the domain of the Bonyads, which are accountable to no one.(18) The subsidized price of petrol, bread, gas, electricity and other essential goods and services remains relatively low. Deregulation continues to be non-existent. In 1996 alone, the government issued more than 250 regulations on imports and exports.(19)


Pakistan's economic liberalization programs during Benazir Bhutto's second term (1993-1996) encountered frequent political crises. While growth was steady during this period, external debt soared and the Karachi Stock Exchange plunged. Bhutto avoided certain quick fixes that were politically risky. She refused to impose taxes, for example, on agriculture and the politically influential feudal landlords who supported her staunchly. In 1995-1996, for instance, landlords paid only $79,000 in wealth tax--or 0.0036 percent of the direct taxes collected.(20) Today, many Pakistanis continue to have doubts about whether Nawaz Sharif (1997-) will force Pakistan's affluent feudal landlords to pay agricultural income tax. Benazir Bhutto failed to formulate a coherent privatization policy. Instead, her government resorted to patronage: providing jobs to government supporters and sympathizers in the public sector. Faced with government inefficiency, many industrialists lost confidence in Bhutto's privatization policy.(21) An inflation rate of 13 percent and lingering government corruption led to the dismissal of the Bhutto regime by then President Leghari in early November of 1996.(22)

Pakistan's budget deficit in 1996 stood at 6.3 percent; its liquid foreign exchange reserves dwindled to around $600 million, and its trade deficit remained at $3 billion.(23) The IMF then sought to help by releasing $160 million from a $600 million standby agreement which had been held up earlier.(24) The IMF, the World Bank, and partisan business groups may continue to annually provide $1 billion. If they do, this will uphold Pakistan's infrastructure and thrust the country into the middle income group of nations. The general consensus, however, doubts the utility of these measures.(25) It is easy to understand why. Pakistan's macroeconomic performance was largely hindered by huge financial imbalances, and the balance of payments situation deteriorated during 1996. Structural reforms were substantially implemented in the first half of 1997 in such areas as tariff, tax reform, and financial sector restructuring. If properly implemented, according to one study, such reforms hold the prospects of a recovery of GDP growth to the 5-6 percent range, as well as a more sustainable macroeconomic environment.(26) Many analysts have argued that the ascension of technocrats, such as Shahid Javed Burki, the prime minister's advisor on finance, economic affairs, and planning, may not help the economy in the long run. Furthermore, structural reforms in the face of the country's economic distortions and well-entrenched power relationships are certain to worsen the lot of the vast majority of the people.(27)

Nawaz Sharif, who had initially advocated populist agenda in his first term (1990-93), subsequently followed a new-orthodox economic agenda and drifted away from his earlier populist posturing. His return to power after the 3 February 1997 elections, brought back a reasonable degree of optimism to the nation. Although voter turnout was below 30 percent, the lowest ever in the country's history, the election results showed that Pakistanis were looking for a leader who could spark the economy. Sharif, who has vowed to make "bold economic reforms" and to continue the country's neo-orthodox economic policies, is likely to take a post-populist stance.(28) Pakistani's relentless economic problems, including high inflation and a plunging stock market, cry out for swift reforms. Sharif, who is regarded by many Pakistanis as "business friendly," has sought investors as well as ways to mend fences with India. The latter could make room for cutting defense spending.(29)


No state in the Middle East, with the exception of Egypt, has had a more checkered economic and political history than Turkey. From 1960 to 1978, the Turkish economy embarked on an economic expansion that was primarily based on import-substitution strategies. These strategies caused high rates of inflation, threw the government into a full-fledged payment crisis, and led to a total collapse of Turkey's credit worthiness in international markets.(30) The resulting foreign debt reached a record high of $73.6 billion in 1996, making Turkey one of the eight most indebted countries in the world per capita.(31)

Furthermore, the costs of the war against the Kurdish insurgents, which amounted to $8.2 billion in 1994 alone, has exerted enormous pressure on the state budget. The cumulative costs of almost twelve years of civil war, according to some estimates, may have reached $40 billion.(32) In addition to its stupendous material costs, the war has produced atrocious human rights abuses perpetuated by both Turkish armed forces and Kurdish rebels.

Turkey's poor human rights record, however, did not block its admission into the Custom Union of the European Union in March 1995. Its vast and lucrative markets as well as its strategic importance to the Western alliance (NATO) were the main reasons why the governments of the European Union "turned a blind eye to the human rights question when negotiating the Custom Union agreement."(33) As the third largest recipient of U.S. military assistance ($7.8 billion in the last decade) and the U.S.'s fifth largest client, after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Taiwan, and Japan, Turkey purchased close to $7 billion worth of arms between 1984 and 1994. The U.S. Department of Commerce has included Turkey among the world's ten most promising "big emerging markets."(34)

Since January 1980, Turkey has shifted its economy from import-substitution industrialization (ISI) to export-oriented industrialization (EOI) under a neoliberal structural adjustment program. Turkey's export boom of the early 1980s, however, was followed by macroeconomic instability, a distributional stalemate, and an enormous debt during the second half of the 1980s.(35) In the early 1990s, Suleyman Demirel's center-right True Path Party (TPP) emphasized production and income distribution. This policy overloaded the state with its populist agenda. Currently, the public sector's decisive position is intact.(36)

Since the mid-1990s, Turkey has seen the transition from a "populist" to a "post-populist" economy and state. This has included, among other things, an extensive program of privatization, a greater capacity to collaborate within the private sector, an explicit focus on the longer-term goal of building up technological and human resource capability, and income distributional objectives pursued through direct instruments. These include tax reform, new regional policies, the expansion of educational opportunities, and expenditures on health and the development of an elaborated social security system.(37)


Secularization in the Middle East has produced unexpected results. John Esposito has observed that "the secularization of processes and institutions did not easily translate into the secularization of minds and culture. While a minority accepted and implemented a Western secular worldview, the majority of most Muslim populations did not internalize a secular outlook and values."(38)

In Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey, secularization was initially synonymous with the adoption of a code of law from a European country. Algeria and Iran adopted the French civil code; Pakistan conformed to the British civil code, and Turkey followed the Swiss civil code. Secularism was regarded by these countries' ruling elites as an indispensable element of modernization. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 challenged this assumption.

Ironically, secularism in Turkey has contributed to a pluralistic environment from which Islamists have benefitted enormously. Hence their rise to power. The parliamentary elections of 24 December 1995 made the Islamist Refah (Welfare) Party the senior partner in a coalition with former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller's conservative True Path Party in June 1996. Ciller joined ranks with the Welfare Party after the latter initiated inquiries against her. The Welfare Party then staved off further investigations and prosecution for alleged corruption and impropriety.

Necmettin Erbakan, the Refah Party's leader and Turkey's former prime minister, portrayed himself as pragmatic, arguing that Islamists were not hostile to secularism as long as the state maintained its neutrality in religious matters.(39) Reflecting this view, Erbakan sought to end laws that prohibit women in the civil service and at public universities from wearing religious scarves. This move caused concern that such policies could conceivably estrange Turkey from its secular tradition.(40) On balance, however, Erbakan advocated practical views, dropping his earlier calls for an end to interest rates, for an "Islamic NATO," and for a jihad against Jerusalem.(41) He also spoke favorably of Turkey's membership in the European Union and its commitments toward NATO, while expressing willingness to make economic and political adjustments.(42)

Under pressures from the military, Erbakan resigned on 18 June 1997. Mesut Yilmaz formed the Motherland Party/Left coalition government in early July 1997. Representing the nation's secular leadership, Yilmaz pushed through parliament a sweeping educational reform law that resulted in the closing of the middle-school sections of the preacher-cleric training schools. Yilmaz's message to the West was clear: Turkey has returned to secularism.

Nevertheless, Turkey's human rights record, its war against Kurdish rebels, and its unresolved dispute with Greece prevented its entry into the European Union. Many Turks argue that their Islamic heritage and culture are what have kept them from the European Union. Echoing this sentiment, Erbakan frequently questioned the European Union's desire to extend membership to Turkey.(43) Short of voicing this concern, Yilmaz has said that the EU is obliged to give Turkey certain financial aid. If it did not keep its commitment, Turkey would have to "rethink its' relationship with Europe."(44) Yilmaz has warned that Islamic radicalism would gain from the EU's discriminatory policies toward Turkey.

While secularization in Turkey has had a moderating influence on religious groups, the Iranian secularization promoted by the Shah had a radicalizing effect. In Pakistan, by contrast, secularization has coexisted uneasily with Islamism. In Algeria, secularization became synonymous with the leadership of the FLN, which prevented a close symbiosis between religion and politics. This proved problematic in a country like Algeria which lacks political and ethnic cohesion and whose people see Islam as a unifying force.

The leading Turkish Islamist intellectuals, such as Ali Bulac, Ismet Ozek, and Rasim Ozdenoren, have promoted the ideal of a pristine Islam without supporting the establishment of a theocracy.(45) Militant Islam, according to experts, is only a fringe movement among a plethora of Islamic groups and organizations.(46) Likewise, Islamic parties in Pakistan have benefitted immensely from a democratic system that allows them political participation. Such a participation has averted radicalization of Islamic movements, and has also effectively restricted them to a small niche in the electoral arena: "They can influence state policy but are not in a position to launch a successful bid for power."(47)

Iran has adopted a constitutional model that emphasizes popular sovereignty in the form of universal suffrage and upholds the fights of a national assembly and a presidential system. This is, in the words of Olivier Roy, a new secularity that goes beyond Islamist rhetoric: "the constitution sets the place of the Shari'a, and not vice versa, more precisely, the authorities responsible for reporting on Islamic law exercise their duties in the same way that the French Council of State and Constitutional Council do, that is, within an institutional framework defined by the constitution."(48)

In Algeria, Pakistan, and Turkey, the military's historical role as the guarantor of the state and patronage has rendered civilian rule vulnerable. Turkish armed forces have overthrown democratically elected governments on three separate occasions (1960, 1971, and 1980) on the grounds that the legitimacy of Kemalism as the state ideology has been threatened or that the governments have used the armed forces to support explicitly partisan political objectives rather than the national interest.(49) In Pakistan, the country's presidents have used their constitutional power to dismiss three elected governments: the premiership of Benazir Bhutto (1988-1990), of Nawaz Sharif (1990-1993), and of Benazir Bhutto in her second term (1993-1996). This presidential power, however, has been reduced since April 1997.

In Turkey, Algeria, and with some qualification, Pakistan, the military constitutes the major deterrent to the establishment of an Islamic state.(50) In early 1997, Turkey's military forced the Islamic-led government to reduce its Islamic programs and take a more moderate line. The military gave Islamic leaders several warnings in defense of secularism.(51) Former Prime Minister Erbakan was pressed into approving the dismissal of pro-Islamic officers as part of the Turkish generals' plan to purge the army.(52) Erbakan's resignation, under heavy pressure from the military, showed that the army has zero tolerance for any party or faction that poses a serious menace to the foundations of secularism in Turkey.


In the 1990s, demands for democratic transition have accompanied the Islamic resurgence. One question has become central: are Islamist movements and democratic transition compatible? There is no standard response to this question. Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey illustrate varied interpretations of the intersections between Islam and democracy.


From 1965, when President Ahmed Ben Bella was replaced by Houari Boumedienne through a peaceful coup, until the late 1980s, Algeria enjoyed relative political stability with centralized and collegial governments. After independence from French colonial rule in July 1962, the Algerian economy was planned and managed by the government, which nationalized all major foreign firms. In February 1989, Algeria's new constitution permitted, for the first time since 1962, the creation of civil and political associations and a multiparty system.

The history of Algeria since then has been tumultuous. Abrupt changes in social and political relations led to the breakdown of the democratic initiatives on 11 January 1992, and the cancellation of the scheduled second round elections for the National Assembly. Algeria's political crisis, some observers note, is the result of a flawed transition from single-party to democratic politics. Without necessary bargaining and dialogue among the diverse social forces, the dismantling of authoritarian politics in Algeria would be highly unlikely. Prior to the 1991 elections, no dialogue or bargaining about the nature of pluralism and basic liberties took place between secularists and Islamists.(53) Democratization failed after a brief period (1989-1991) largely because of the absence of a civic pact between conservative secularists (the military), reformist secularists (the regime), and the Islamists.

Algeria's civil society, which was composed of workers' unions, feminist groups, professional unions, and alternative political parties, was poorly developed and did not have a long evolution. Rather, the institutional reforms of 1989 took place in a society lacking organized groups outside of the extended family and patron-client structures. Algeria clearly had no organized and collective bargaining. Arguably, a wide-ranging restructuring of the economy accompanied by a gradual process of political liberalization aimed at expanding Algeria's civil society would have been the correct formula.

The return of an exiled secular reformist, Muhammad Boudiaf, who was one of the nine original founders of the FLN, provided no remedy for an extremely volatile situation. Boudiaf's commitment to civic reconstruction met with strong resistance by the army. His assassination in June 1992 threw the country into civil war. After a brief period of collective rule, General Liamine Zeroual was appointed president. Since then, several attempts at working a civic pact have failed. A democratic pact came into existence by late 1994 and early 1995, enhancing the prospects of various possible negotiated settlements. During this time, a Catholic group, Sant' Egidio, convened a meeting of Algerian opposition leaders in Italy. The agreement, which came to be known as "the Platform of Rome," "Sant' Egidio Declaration," and also "National Contract," was denounced by the Zeroual government.

The Armed Islamic Group (the Groupe Islamique Armeee--GIA), a radical breakaway faction of the FIS, has since continued its attacks on the government. Car bombs and other explosive attacks, as well as several savage massacres, have been perpetrated by both security forces and the guerrillas, and the country has sunk into a very bloody stalemate in which neither the military-backed government nor the armed Islamists can win. The FIS militants declared a cease-fire in late September 1997 to distance themselves from the atrocities of the GIA. The Armed Jihad Islamic Front (FIDA) joined the FIS in declaring a cease-fire.

The FIS remains outlawed. The imprisoned leaders of the FIS, Abassi Madani and Ali Belhadj, were released from prison and placed under house arrest. Several elections have since been held, all of which were designed by the government to put a democratic veneer on an authoritarian regime. From the people's point of view, elections under the military role have been regarded more as a way of ending violence than supporting a particular candidate. The latest municipal and legislative elections, which took place on 23 October 1997 and from which FIS was banned, were replete with voter fraud. With voter turnout around 66 percent, the ruling National Democratic Rally (RND) won 55 percent of the votes. The election results have not narrowed political divisions among secular nationalists (FLN), the military, and the Islamists. Today, many Algerians, especially the youth, call into question the nature of the state and those who represent it: "a questioning of the nature of the modern state, of what precisely the state should do for its citizens, and in what fashion."(54)


Since its creation as a Muslim country in 1947, Pakistan has undergone a tumultuous process of nation building, seeking to create consensus and institutions sufficient for its stability. The straggle to establish a parliamentary democracy in a federal setting has been hampered by interethnic strife, fragmented elites, praetorian rule, and regional and global influences. Since 1947, the military officers have three times (in 1958, 1969, and 1977) administered governments by martial law, seeking to gain legitimacy en route to nation building.

In Pakistan, the civilian rulers have often relied on the military to preserve their power. Dominated by Punjabis and representing landed and industrial interests, the military regards its dominance of Pakistani politics as vital to any attempt to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country in the face of bewildering ethnic, linguistic, and regional diversity. Military and non-military governments have equally appealed to Islam in order to maintain their legitimacy and to uphold different political, economic, and class interests.(55) Because Islam has been, throughout Pakistan's brief history, manipulated for political and non-political purposes, one can argue that the religion has had a divisive rather than a unifying impact there.

General Zia ul-Haq (1977-88) used Islam not only as a means to suspend democratic elections and constitutional liberties but also to legitimize his own power. Zia instituted a progressive program of Islamization that transferred the laws of the land from a more secular tradition to an Islamic one. This diminished the quality of Pakistani institutions, notably the system of justice. In his attempts to forge an alliance with Muslim clerics, Zia offered them positions as magistrates. This placed people with no prior legal or judicial qualifications in the seats of judges. The move damaged the integrity of the Pakistani judiciary and also tied its power directly to the state and Zia.(56)

In the "Islamization programs," minorities' rights were further restricted. Islamic courts were given wide-ranging powers to interpret Muslim Personal Laws. In 1979, the "Hudood Ordinances" were enacted, making the penal system harsher. These ordinances criminalized adultery, fornication, and rape; they prescribed cruel and inhuman punishments as well as discrimination on the basis of gender. Non-Muslims, however, were exempted from this new law. In 1984, Ordinance XX was enforced, imposing severe penalties on a minority Muslim group known as the Ahmediya, whose members are denied Islamic status under Pakistani law. The Ahmedis were barred from practicing or proselytizing their faith.

In the post-Zia era, several national elections have been held. Led by Nawaz Sharif, the Islamic Democratic Alliance (Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad, or IJI) has claimed the banner of Islamization, and it now includes the Jammat-i-Islami, the Muslim League, and the Jamiat-i-Islam. The reintroduction of democracy in Pakistan after Zia's death contributed not only to greater political participation but also to the political fragmentation that often accompanies participation. Different ethnic parties such as the Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM) emerged that contributed to further political instability by playing national interests against each other. Violence in Karachi and the subsequent imposition of martial law drove the MQM's forces underground and its leaders into exile.

On I April 1997, by unanimous vote, both houses of parliament stripped Pakistani's constitution of a controversial provision that allowed the president to sack a popularly-elected prime minister and dismiss governments. That power was transferred to the prime minister, along with the right to appoint the chiefs of all branches of the armed forces. Parliament has been dissolved four times since 1988 by presidents who were not directly elected. In November 1996, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was sacked on grounds of corruption and ineptitude. The 1997 elections brought Nawaz Sharif to the forefront of Pakistani politics for the second term. He himself had been sacked by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and had resigned in July 1993.

Once in office, the Sharif administration faced an internal political conflict with President Leghari and Supreme Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. In addition, his government encountered growing ethnic violence in Karachi and sectarian violence between the country's Sunni Muslim majority and the Shi'ite Muslim minority in both Punjab and Sindh. A combination of economic recession and ethnic and sectarian strife made it impossible for Sharif to pursue consistent reform programs. The political battle between Sharif, President Leghari, and Chief Justice Shah resulted in Leghari's resignation and Shah's ousting on 2 December 1997, with the military on Sharifs side.


As a major beneficiary of multiparty politics since 1946, the Islamic parties became regular participants in the political process. The Islamic-oriented National Salvation Party (MSP), which later formed the Refah (Welfare) Party, took part in three coalition governments between 1973 and 1980. From 1991 to 1995, however, a coalition of the center-right True Path Party and the leftist Social Democratic Populist Party ruled Turkey. During this period, the tensions caused by the country's economy and the Kurdish crisis in the southeast increased Islam's political voice and revitalized Islamic movements.(57)

In the late 1995 parliamentary elections, the Refah Party won the poll with 21.3 percent of the vote. By June 1996, it became the senior partner of a governing bloc in parliament. Since the formation of the coalition government, media pundits regularly speculated on the military's role in the country's "stability and order," as well as on the possibility of a military coup. The military refused to consider a coup as a feasible way of consolidating democracy; however, it continues to be firmly secular in its political outlook and, as noted before, is a check on the creation of an Islamic state.(58) Hence their support for the Yilmaz government, which has promised to undo many of the changes wrought by Yilmaz's predecessor, Necmettin Erbakan, the head of the Welfare Party. The latter has been banned by court since January 1998.

Further confounding Turkish democracy are economic liberalization programs that have been in place since the 1980s that have created enormous economic inequality. Couching their struggle as calls for social justice, the Islamists became the sole beneficiary of the deteriorating economic conditions. The Kurdish crisis and its lingering costs have constrained the state's budget. The future of democracy in Turkey remains complicated at best.


Elections, parliamentary or presidential, have been regular features of post-revolutionary Iran. In the May 1997 elections, of the 34 million eligible voters, close to 30 million people cast their votes. Muhammad Khatami won less than 21 million votes (70 percent) to become Iran's new president. His supporters largely consisted of women, youth, ethnic minorities, academics, and the Left. Although subject to political and religious manipulations, elections have been regular and a restricted democracy has prevailed, but pluralism and dissidence have been noticeably lacking. The concept of Islamic government under the rule of the Supreme Leader (valayate-e-faquih--rule by the jurisconsult), along with the power of the Council of Guardians to veto any politicians, have often led to clerical repression.(59)

Almost two decades after Iran's revolution, a new debate has erupted in Iran. The issue is the extent to which the Supreme Guide can intervene in politics. This reflects the tension between valayate-e-faqih's political powers and those of the president, who is an elected official. This conflict has the potential to undermine the authority of the Supreme Guide and to strengthen the president's hand. Although it is not yet clear how Khatami and his government will pursue a policy of liberalization, it appears that the clerics may be cajoled or forced into sharing their power with the technocrats in order to avert a drastic deviation from the Islamic system.(60)


Many factors affect human rights conditions in these four countries. Four key factors are the extent of civil and political rights, women's status, the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, and the monitoring of human rights. An analysis of human rights in Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey demonstrates comparable patterns of human rights abuses in these countries.


Several trends have persisted since Boumedienne's death, some encouraging and others disheartening. The liberalization measures of the 1980s under the Benjedid government increased the civil rights of Algerians. The pressing need to obtain public acceptance of renewed austerity measures in 1986-1987 forced the Benjedid regime to make concessions in the civil liberties area. The government officially recognized the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights and an Algerian branch of Amnesty International and conceded that both of these associations would be independent of the FLN--a meager but marked departure from previous practice, in which the party had a formal monopoly on public life.(61)

Following the cancellation of the 1992 elections, the Algerian government abrogated all political freedoms granted during the liberalization period and held thousands of Islamists in detention camps in violation of habeas corpus rights and the right to due process. There have been massive human rights abuses, including torture of prisoners. The military-backed government has justified its actions on the grounds of protecting democracy by blocking Islamists' ascension to power, and has freely used emergency powers to detain civilians. Likewise, Algeria's independent press has lost considerable ground. Islamist terror and state violence have limited public debate, and few rights are protected. Government reaction to Islamists' attacks has been draconian. The Anti-terrorist Decree of 1992 created special courts and increased the government's powers of detention.(62) Human rights monitoring is blocked by intensified political violence and the climate of fear.

The Berber-speaking Kabyle minority, who constitute almost one-fifth of Algeria's population, have frequently complained of oppression and discrimination. Threatened a decade ago by Islamist demands for Arabization under Chadli Benjedid and recently by the growing appeal of the FIS, the Berbers maintain that they have the most to lose if an Islamic state is formed in Algeria. Such fears were heightened in January 1990, when the Arabization of the media and schools was legally sanctioned. The new law rendered it illegal for the main news organs of the new parties to publish in any language other than Arabic. However, the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) and Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) chose to disregard the law and published their newspapers in Berber.(63) As an Islamic minority, Berbers see their cultural survival endangered by the growing appeal of the Islamists.

Despite extra-judicial executions, disappearances, torture, rape, and continued impunity for abuses by the security forces, many countries have maintained routine economic transactions with Algeria. The European Union has granted 350 million ECU to Algeria with the expectation that more will come out of the 5.5 million ECU package to the Mediterranean area over the next five years.(64) The IMF had provided a $1 billion loan to Algeria, and the Paris Club has rescheduled $5 billion of the country's international debt.(65) France has provided the equivalent of nearly $1.2 billion annual aid, mostly in the form of government-backed credits.(66)


In the 1990s, Iranians have seen growing economic and political reforms. Nevertheless, summary executions, torture, and indefinite detention without charge are still pervasive. Academic freedoms have been constrained and the press censored. The Islamic dress code for females has been closely enforced. Only those acceptable to the Council of Guardians may be nominated for the post of parliament deputies. Parliamentary factions--not parties--compete for power.(67) Although the constitution of the Islamic Republic guarantees political and legal equalities for women, the forces of patriarchy and orthodoxy establish de facto inequalities. In recent years, some legal reforms, especially in divorce-related matters, have promoted equality of the sexes.

The widely reported human rights violations in Iran concern the way in which religious and ethnic minorities have been treated. The Islamic Republic's record in this regard is mixed. While the rights of the recognized religious minorities such as Sunni Muslims, Kurds, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians have been constitutionally guaranteed, numerous cases of persecutions have been reported. Religious minorities are prohibited from proselytizing among Muslims and apostasy is a capital offense.(68) Several Protestant leaders have been killed in what appears to be religiously motivated murders.(69) The Kurds, the largest ethnic minority, suffer from both social and cultural discrimination. Perhaps the most blatant violations of human rights are committed against the Baha'is. Widely regarded as apostates and heretics, Bahais have been the subject of assorted discriminations. No executions of Bahais, however, have been reported since 1989.(70)

In 1996, for the first time since 1991, the Iranian government agreed to permit Maurice Copithorne, the U.N. special representative on the human rights situation in Iran, to visit the country. Prior to Copithorne's visit, two rapporteurs of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights had visited Iran: the special rapporteur on religious intolerance visited in December 1995, and the special rapporteur on freedom of expression in January 1996.(71) In the same month, the Islamic government for the first time allowed a fact-finding mission by Human Rights Watch.(72) This partial opening to international monitoring was not, however, matched by similar responses to domestic monitoring.

Under President Mohammad Khatami, freedom of the press is reasonably observed and people openly criticize the government. Expanded cultural freedom is perhaps the most palpable sign of change. Restrictions on artists and women have been lifted, books unbanned, censorship eased, and licenses granted to newspapers and magazines whose editors were previously suspect.(73) Political parties are allowed to organize and the civil society shows signs of a revival. Khatami has appointed several female deputy vice presidents in both technical and sport affairs. Female students can now equally compete with male students for the university seats in all engineering fields previously reserved for male students. Khatami has frequently spoken of the "dialogue among civilizations and cultures," inviting the United States to cultural interaction with the Islamic republic.

Khatami has vigorously defended freedom of speech, criticizing the attacks against Abdol Karim Soroush, a philosopher and social critic, who has openly rejected theocracy as a viable form of government. Nevertheless, the regime's squeeze against Soroush's free speech rights continues out of fear that his speeches and writings might prove to be a catalyst for change.(74) Harassment by the authorities and physical attacks by Hezbollahi mobs are still pervasive. International monitoring of the country's human rights conditions continues to be restricted.(75)


Pakistan continues to be a predominantly agrarian, rural, and feudal society. The transregional alliance forged by feudals, generals, and bureaucrats has prevented the expansion of civil society. In addition, cultural/religious developments, such as orthodox Islamic influences and the strict enforcement of Shari'a law, have adversely affected the country's human rights situation.

The prospects for the improvement of human rights in Pakistan are bleak, although the country is ranked, according to the comparative survey of freedom worldwide, as partly free.(76) Death from torture in police custody is epidemic. Indefinite detention without any charges, sometimes up to one year under Article 10 of the constitution, is commonplace.(77) Self-censorship is widely practiced, especially on matters relating to the armed forces and religion.(78) Traditional cultural and religious forces block political and legal equality for women. These forces also discriminate against women in socioeconomic domains. On 2 January 1997, an all-Pakistan Working Women Convention in Karachi expressed concerns over social attitudes towards women. The convention called for an end to abuse of property rights, inheritance, and social traditions.(79)

Many human rights observers in Pakistan have objected to the action of a grand jirga of the Afridi sub-clans of the Khyber Agency that has decided to exclude women from voting. The tribal elders' opposition to rural women's voting rights in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan reflects their deeply entrenched tribal hierarchy.(80) Death for adultery in rural areas is commonplace. The 1991 bill to expand Shari'a law preserves the subjugation of wives in marriage and divorce proceedings.(81) Forced or child labor is widespread in rural areas, and the central government appears unable to prevent it. After the threat of sanction by sporting goods manufacturers and labor organizations, Pakistani authorities have begun a crackdown on child labor in the soccer ball industry. They conducted more than 7,000 raids on various businesses between January 1995 and March 1996.(82)

Ethnic and religious discrimination are rampant. Baluchis, Pathans, Ahmediyans (a religious sect), Christians, Shi'ite Muslims, and Hindus are frequent targets. The Federal Shari'a Court has prescribed the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Mohammad.(83) The most active and vocal human rights monitoring groups, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the Bonded Labor Liberation Front (BLLF), have been instrumental in promoting legislation which bans the bonded labor system.


Despite the redemocratization of Turkey since 1983 and the prevalence of multiparty elections in the country ever since, Turkey's human rights conditions are not any better than those of Algeria, Iran, and Pakistan. Extrajudicial killings or "disappearances" are well-documented. So is indefinite detention particularly under emergency laws or the new

Anti-Terrorism Law.(84) The press is frequently censored. Patriarchal culture and tradition have hindered political and legal equality for women. There is continued discrimination in pay and employment. Although the position of women in matters relating to marriage and divorce has improved, a husband's consent is frequently required by wives for a passport or to start a business.

The Kurds, the largest ethnic minority, endure the most severe socioeconomic privation and official discrimination. The persistent military action against Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists has resulted in many illegal searches and seizures.(85) The war between the government and the PKK, according to one study, has cost close to 18,000 lives. Prime Minister Yilmaz has confirmed longstanding allegations that state-sponsored death squads had indeed been used in a war that grew out of the ,thirteen-year-old struggle against Kurdish separation guerrillas. Yilmaz's disclosure has implicated the Cillar administration's security forces in such terroristic acts as well as in drug trafficking and secret operations abroad.(86) The fact remains that despite some degree of assimilation, "about one-third of Turkey's 12 to 15 million Kurds have not been fully integrated and are living in the poor and underdeveloped provinces of the southeast."(87)

Regarding the status of women, who have enjoyed the fight to vote and to run for elective office since the 1920s, it can be said that Turkey's record is mixed. In general, literacy and professional employment rates are higher than those of most Middle Eastern countries: "women make up one in six judges, one in four doctors, and over 40 percent of the enrollment in schools of medicine and law. There are three or more generations' worth of firmly feminist, Kemalist women in politics and the professions."(88) A different situation prevails in rural areas, with eight million illiterate females, low average ages of marriage, and high fertility rates. Furthermore, the practice of contractual religious marriage is widespread. Birth control and abortion are rare, and women remain the main harvesters of the Black Sea tea and nut crops.(89)

Turkey has several active and vocal human fights monitoring groups. These include the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), the Human Bights Association (HRA), and the Islamist-based Mazlum-Der.(90) All of these organizations face regular legal harassment. In the southeastern part of Turkey under emergency rule, the HRA has operated on in Diyarbakir largely due to threats, torture,and killings. Many of the HRA's branches throughout Turkey nave peen raided, searched, closed, or set ablaze, with their members frequently being detained. These detentions were justified under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law of 1991.(91) Article 8, which has been partly amended, continues to be a main source of human fights abuse.

In September 1996, although Amnesty International's researchers for Turkey were banned from entering the country, a large Amnesty International delegation led by President Pierre Sane traveled to Turkey.(92) Turkey's poor human rights record has become one of the major hurdles to its efforts to enter the EU. In the Luxembourg Summit of 12-13 December 1997, the EU member states excluded Turkey from their further expansion plans on several grounds, including Turkey's dismal human rights conditions, its failure to resolve the dispute over the island of Cyprus, and other differences with Greece.


The state-sponsored violence under the mask of security measures is a major cause of human rights abuses in all four countries. Too often, human rights violations are politically motivated and garbed in nationalistic terms. Anti-terror laws in both Turkey and Algeria are, in most cases, a direct source of human rights violations. Failure to observe basic freedoms and to treat minorities with equal rights and respect is common in all of these countries. The rights of minorities have been somewhat improved. With the notable exception of Saudi Arabia, Muslim states now permit dhimmis (protected minorities) to obtain citizenship.

Women's rights, however, are restricted in varying degrees in these countries. The poor women's rights condition can often be attributed to de facto underdevelopment, low female literacy rates, and brutal local traditions and customs in the case of Pakistan, and to patriarchy, strict social codes, and male-centered structures in the cases of Algeria, Iran, and Turkey. Women's total share of government positions in 1995 in these countries fares poorly with the developing countries' average of 7.6 percent. Iranian women's share stood at 0.4 percent, Algerian and Pakistanis at 1.6 percent, and Turkish with a relatively better share of 5.2 percent.(93)

While Iran and Algeria have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Pakistan and Turkey have thus far refused to ratify those agreements. More than half of Middle Eastern and North African countries have ratified the same covenants. Iran and Algeria have not ratified or signed any conventions on women's rights. Both Pakistan and Turkey have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Turkey has also ratified the Convention on Political Rights of Women. Jordan and Tunisia are the only countries that have ratified all four human rights conventions on women's rights. With the exception of Saudi Arabia, which is not a party to any human rights instruments, all Muslim countries are a party to one or more of those instruments.(94) Although the ratification of these human rights instruments is no evidence of palpable improvement of fundamental rights, becoming party to such treaties has at least made their governments vulnerable to international criticism in cases of grotesque violations of global standards. It should be noted, however, that effective enforcement of human rights instruments remains almost entirely within these countries' purview.


State-imposed secularization and Islamization have failed to create a sense of cultural-political identity and unity in Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Secularization in Algeria's modern history has both united the country against colonialism and divided it in the wake of resurgent Islamist tides. Forced secularization (1953-1977) failed to take root in Iran, where faith is central to life, and morality is based on religious foundations. Pakistan has never been a completely secular state or society, and today secular and religious forces continue to coexist there. The Turkish experience shows that seventy years of militant secular rule ("Kemalism") have failed to generate a mass secular culture.

In all four countries, the populist-interventionist era has ended and Islamist politics have slowly turned to political pragmatism and economic realism, with Muslim states increasingly incorporating modern norms into their laws and constitutions. These norms have had secularizing consequences, such as attaching greater significance to the individual's general well-being and voting power. The 1997 presidential elections in Iran, which resulted in a landslide victory for Mohammad Khatami, a moderate and reformist cleric by Iranian standards, is the latest chapter in the triumph of pragmatists over ideologues.

The institutionalization of law seems far away in Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Prospects for economic growth in these countries remain contingent on the effective implementation of structural adjustment programs. The success of such programs, however, hinges on a strengthening of public institutions.(95) These countries' public sectors have proven dysfunctional, especially in the wake of widespread economic dislocations and outburst of public discontent caused by neoliberal economic reforms. As in the rest of the transitional states, the sequencing of economic liberalization and political liberalization continues to be an issue. For one thing, economic and political reforms do not always advance in a uniform or balanced way. For another, economic reforms within closed political systems are likely to present dilemmas for the political leaders.

Efforts to maintain economic growth, cultural continuity, and political stability continue to outstrip democratic initiatives in the Middle East. Moreover, the utility of democracy is different for each country, and formal democracy, as defined by elections, is not synonymous with the protection of basic human rights, especially civil, economic, and religious rights. In the absence of leaders' genuine commitment to civil liberties, elections so far have been of little value in directly promoting human rights. Several elections since 1988 in Pakistan have failed to curb the corruption, the ethnic strife, and the economic difficulties in which the country is embroiled.(96) Similarly, several elections since 1992 have not contributed to a solution of the political crisis in Algeria. Political and personal freedoms have in fact deteriorated in several of the longest-surviving democracies of the Third World, including India, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Venezuela.(97)

Although it is true that human rights standards cannot be fully implemented in all societies and that universal conceptions of human rights leave out the complexity of local disputes and politics,(98) an unprecedented consensus has emerged on the "core" rights such as freedom from torture, hunger, discrimination, and extra-judicial killing, as well as the participation rights. These rights can no longer be overridden by cultural, economic, and political circumstances. The secular and Islamist regimes' dismal human rights conditions and unfulfilled promises of reform are a testament to the flaws inherent in both types of regimes. Some of the old concerns with the types of regimes may be of diminishing importance.

The tensions between secularists and Islamists, however disruptive and violent at times, are creative when they are capable of inspiring the struggle to secure greater justice.(99) The Islamic groups and movements must be included in the political process, for to exclude them is to foster further extreme, radical, and violent programs.(100) There is no real alternative to coexistence between secularists and Islamists. Their agendas must meet the standards of the international community if they are to claim legitimacy. Without secularism, religious ideologies tend to become totalitarian and the underpinnings of a normative tolerance are weakened. At the same time, religion is central to the life and social mores of Muslim societies.

There are irreducible differences and rivalries between secularists and Islamists. Precisely how these differences will be settled is difficult to foretell. If both sides refute the cardinal principle of conflict resolution--that is, the truth lies in the middle--the rivalries are bound to be more violent than ever before. If, on the other hand, they seek a political pact, the amelioration, if not the termination, of the conflicts would be likely. A policy that respects pre- and post-elections pacts could minimize the eruption of such conflicts. Thus far, however, the failure to achieve such a middle ground has resulted in political disasters that have not only jeopardized the reign of self-indulgent and corrupt leaders, but also the civil, political, and economic rights of the vast majority of the people.

             International                        Convention on
              Covenant in      International     the Elimination
               Economic,        Covenant on      of all forms of
              Social and         Civil and           Racial
            Cultural Rights   Political Rights   Discrimination
States           1966               1966              1965

Algeria            X                 X(a)              X(b)
Bahrain                                                 X
Egypt              X                 X                  X
Iran               X                 X                  X
Iraq               X                 X                  X
Israel             X                 X                  X
Jordon             X                 X                  X
Kuwait                                                  X
Lebanon            X                 X                  X
Libya              X                 X                  X
Morocco            X                 X
Pakistan                                                X
Qatar                                                   X
S. Arabia
Somalia            X                 X                  X
Sudan              X                 X                  X
Syria              X                 X                  X
Tunisia            X                 X(a)               X
Turkey                                                  S
Yemen              X                 X                  X

             Convention on                     Convention on
            the Prevention                    the Elimination
            and Punishment    Convention on   of all forms of
            of the Crime of   the Rights of   Discrimination
               Genocide         the Child      Against Women
States           1948             1989             1979

Algeria            X                X
Bahrain            X                X
Egypt              X                X                X
Iran               X                X
Iraq               X                X                X
Israel             X                X                X
Jordon             X                X                X
Kuwait                              X
Lebanon            X                X
Libya              X                X                X
Morocco            X                X                X
Pakistan           X                X
Qatar                               S
S. Arabia          X
Somalia                             S
Sudan                               X
Syria              X                X
Tunisia            X                X                X
Turkey             X                X                X
Yemen              X                X                X

                                               Convention on
                                                Consent to
            Convention on    Convention on      Minimum Age
            the Political   the Nationality   for Marriage &
              Rights of       of Married      Registration of
                Women            Women           Marriages
States          1952             1957              1962

Egypt             X                X                 X
Israel            X                X                 S
Jordon            X                X                 X
Lebanon           X
Libya             X                X
Morocco           X
Pakistan          X                S
S. Arabia
Tunisia           X                X                 X
Turkey            X
Yemen             X                                  X

             Convention on
            Against Torture
            & Other Cruel,
              Inhuman or       Convention on
               Degrading      Relating to the
             Treatment or        Status of
              Punishment         Refugees
States           1984              1950

Algeria            X(c)              X
Egypt              X                 X
Iran               S
Israel             S                 X
Jordon             X
Libya              X
Morocco            X                 X
S. Arabia
Somalia            X                 X
Sudan              S                 X
Tunisia            X(c)              X
Turkey             X(c)              X
Yemen              X**

X Ratification, accession, approval, notofication or succession, acceptance or definitive signature

S Signature no yet followed by ratification

Source: Human Rights: International Instruments, Chart of Ratification as at 31 December 1994, NY: UN, 1995, pp. 1-10

(a) Declaration recognizing the competence of the Human Rights Committee under article 41 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

(b) Declaration recognizing the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under article 14 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

(c) Declaration recognizing the competence of the Committee against Torture under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

(d) Declaration under article 21 only

(1.) Jean-Francois Legrain, "HAMAS: Legitimate Heir of Palestinian Nationalism?" in Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?, ed. John L. Esposito (Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997), 159-78; see esp. 175.

(2.) Ramzi Yousef was convicted as the mastermind of the bombing plot on 12 November 1997, by a U.S. court.

(3.) Lisa Anderson, "Fulfilling Prophecies: State Policy and Islamist Radicalism," in Esposito, ed., Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?, 17-31.

(4.) Jamil E. Jreisat, Politics Without Process: Administering Development in the Arab World (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997), 17-18.

(5.) For the factors contributing or hindering political liberalization in the Middle East, and especially a comparative analysis of Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, and Turkey, see Bradley L. Glasser, "External Capital and Political Liberalizations: A Typology of Middle Eastern Development in the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of International Affairs 49 (Summer 1995): 45-73.

(6.) Hootan Shambayati, "The Rentier State, Interest Groups, and the Paradox of Autonomy," Comparative Politics 26 (April 1994): 307-31.

(7.) John L. Esposito and John O. Voll, Islam and Democracy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 108-09.

(8.) Esposito, ed. Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?, 4.

(9.) See Anne Mosely Lesch, "The Destruction of Civil Society in the Sudan," in Toward Civil Society in the Middle East in the Middle East? A Primer, ed. Jillian Schwedler (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995), 71-72.

(10.) Robert Springborg, "Egypt: Repression's Toll," Current History 97 (January 1998): 32-37; see esp. 37.

(11.) Esposito and Voll, Islam and Democracy, 15.

(12.) David Pool, "The Links Between Economic and Political Liberalization," in Economic and Political Liberalization in the Middle East, eds. Tim Niblock and Emma Murphy (London: British Academic Press, 1993), 40-54, see esp. 49.

(13.) Emma C. Murphy, "The Initiation of Economic Liberalization in Algeria, 1979-1989," in Political and Economic Liberalization: Dynamics and Linkages in Comparative Perspective, ed. Gerd Nonneman (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1996), 181-97; see esp. 187.

(14.) World Debt Tables, supplement (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1991), 38.

(15.) Jahangir Amuzegar, Iran's Economy Under the Islamic Republic (New York: I.B. Tauris, Co., Ltd., 1997), 315.

(16.) Ibid., 317-18.

(17.) The Economist, 18 January 1907, 12-13.

(18.) Ibid., 13.

(19.) Ibid.

(20.) Far Eastern Economic Review, 19 September 1996, 56-57.

(21.) Saeed Shafqat, "Pakistan Under Benazir Bhutto," Asian Survey 36 (July 1996): 655-72; see esp. 665.

(22.) Ibid., 672.

(23.) Herald, November 1996, 87-89; see esp. 87.

(24.) Ibid.

(25.) Ibid.

(26.) International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook: October 1997 (Washington, D.C.: IMF, 1997), 47.

(27.) Dawn, 18-24 January 1997, PI and PVI.

(28.) Christian Science Monitor, 5 February 1997, 6.

(29.) Ibid., 2 April 1997, 6.

(30.) A. Aydin Cecen, A. Suut Dogruel, and Fatma Dogruel, "Economic Growth and Structural Change in Turkey 1960-88," International Journal of Middle East Studies 26 (February 1994): 37-56; see esp. 44.

(31.) Eric Rouleau, "Turkey: Beyond Ataturk," Foreign Policy 3 (Summer 1996): 70-87; see esp. 80.

(32.) Ibid., 81.

(33.) Ibid., 83-84.

(34.) Ibid.

(35.) Ziya Onis, "The Political Economy of Export-Oriented Industrialization in Turkey," in Turkey: Political, Social and Economic Challenges in the 1990s, eds. Cigdem Balim, Ersin Kalaycioglu, Cevat Karatas, Gareth Winrow, and Feroz Yasamee (New York: E.J. Brill, 1995): 107-29.

(36.) Cecen, Dogruel, and Dogruel, "Economic Growth and Structural Change," 52-53.

(37.) Onis, "The Political Economy of Export-Oriented Industrialization in Turkey," 127.

(38.) Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, 9.

(39.) See Eric Rouleau, "Turkey: Beyond Ataturk," Foreign Policy 3 (Summer 1996): 70-87.

(40.) New York Times, 16 February 1997, 6Y.

(41.) Stephen Kinzer, "The Islamist Who Runs Turkey, Delicately," The New York Times Magazine, 23 February 1997, 28-31.

(42.) Sabri Sayari, "Turkey's Islamist Challenge," Middle East Quarterly 3 (September 1996): 37-43; see esp. 43.

(43.) New York Times, 23 February 1997, 3Y.

(44.) Newsweek, 11 August 1997, 39.

(45.) Metin Heper, "Islam and Democracy in Turkey: Toward A Reconciliation," Middle East Journal 51 (Winter 1997): 32-45; see esp. 40-42.

(46.) Binnaz Toprak, "Islam and the Secular State in Turkey," in Turkey: Political, Social, and Economic Challenges in the 1990s, eds. Cigdem Balim, Ersin Kalaycioglu, Cevat Karatas, Gareth Winrow, and Feroz Yasamee (New York: E.J. Brill, 1995), 90-96; see esp. 95.

(47.) S.V.R. Nasr, "Islamic Opposition in the Political Process: Lessons from Pakistan," in Esposito, ed., Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?, 135-36; see esp. 154.

(48.) Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994), 177.

(49.) Ben Lombardi, "Turkey--The Return of the Reluctant Generals?" Political Science Quarterly 112 (Summer 1997): 191-215; see esp. 209-10.

(50.) Metin Heper, "Islam and Democracy in Turkey: Toward a Reconciliation," Middle East Journal 51 (Winter 1997): 32-45; see esp. 33; see also Jenny B. White, "Pragmatists or Ideologues? Turkey's Welfare Party in Power," Current History 96 (January 1997): 25-30; see esp. 30.

(51.) New York Times, 2 March 1997, 6Y; and 16 March 1997, 4Y.

(52.) New York Times, 27 May 1997, A4.

(53.) Robert Mortimer, "Islamists, Soldiers, and Democrats: The Second Algerian War," Middle East Journal 50 (Winter 1996): 18-39; see esp. 19.

(54.) Dirk Vanderwalle, "Islam in Algeria: Religion, Culture, and Opposition in a Rentier State," in Esposito, ed., Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?, 33-51; see esp. 49.

(55.) Esposito and Voll, Islam and Democracy, 102.

(56.) Mahmood Monshipouri and Christopher G. Kukta, "Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights," Middle East Policy 3, no. 2 (1994): 22-39; see esp. 31.

(57.) Jenny B. White, "Islam and Democracy: The Turkish Experience," Current History 94 (January 1995): 7-12; see esp. 8.

(58.) Metin Heper and Menderes Cinar, "Parliamentary Government With a Strong President: The Post-1989 Turkish Experience," Political Science Quarterly 111 (1996): 483-503; see esp. 502-03.

(59.) Esposito and Voll, Islam and Democracy, 70.

(60.) Tarek E. Masoud, "Misreading Iran," Current History 97 (January 1998): 38,43; see esp. 41.

(61.) Hugh Roberts, "In Troubled Waters," African Report 32 (September-October 1987): 52-56; see esp. 54.

(62.) Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 1995-1996, ed. Andrian Karatnycky (New York: Freedom House, 1996), 113.

(63.) Kusyel Tissas, "Berber By Any Other Name," Index on Censorship 21 (May 1992): 21.

(64.) Andrew J. Pierre and William B. Quandt, "Algeria's War on Itself," Foreign Policy 99 (Summer 1995): 131-48; see esp. 144.

(65.) Ibid.

(66.) Human Rights Watch, World Report, 1997 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 271.

(67.) Charles Humana, World Human Rights Guide, 3rd. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 147.

(68.) Esposito and Voll write in Islam and Democracy, 72, that Article 14 of the Iranian Constitution invokes the authority of the Quran regarding the obligation of Muslims to treat non-Muslims with respect. Iran's minorities include 3.5 million Sunni Muslims, many of whom are Kurds, 350,000 Bahais; 80,000 Christians, and 30,000 Jews. Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews hold seats in the Majlis based on the proportional representation (Zoroastrians, 1; Jews, 1; Armenian Christians, 2; and Assyrian Christians, 1).

(69.) Ibid., 73. Rev. Tateos Michaelian, chair of the Council of Protestant Ministers in Iran, was apparently assassinated. Rev. Mehdi Dibaji, a pastor of the Assemblies of God church, was imprisoned for ten years on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity. Dibaji was released and murdered subsequently, although the perpetrators of his death are still unknown. Bishop Haik Hovspian Mehr, who had organized the campaign for Dibaji's release, was also murdered.

(70.) Charles Humana, World Human Rights Guide, 149.

(71.) Human Rights Watch, World Report, 1997, 284.

(72.) Ibid.

(73.) The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 22-29 December 1997, 14.

(74.) Robin Wright, "Iran's Greatest Political Challenge: Abdol Karim Soroush," World Policy Journal 14 (Summer 1997): 67-74.

(75.) Human Rights World Report, 1997, 285.

(76.) Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 1994-1995, ed. James Finn (New York: Freedom House, 1995), 679.

(77.) Charles Humana, World Human Rights Guide, 242.

(78.) Ibid.

(79.) Dawn, 3 January 1997, 11.

(80.) Ibid., 5 January 1997, 9.

(81.) Humana, World Human Rights Guide, 243-44.

(82.) New York Times, 16 February 1997, 6Y.

(83.) Ibid.

(84.) Humana, World Human Rights Guide, 335.

(85.) Ibid.

(86.) The Wall Street Journal, 26 January 1998, A15.

(87.) Eric Rouleau, "Turkey: Beyond Ataturk," Foreign Policy 3 (Summer 1996): 70-78; see esp. 76.

(88.) Amy Schwartz, "Ataturk's Daughters," The Wilson Quarterly 19 (Autumn 1995): 68-79; see esp. 76.

(89.) Ibid.

(90.) Human Rights Watch, World Report, 1997, 244.

(91.) Ibid., 244-45.

(92.) Ibid., 244.

(93.) The United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Record 1996 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 156-57.

(94.) The United Nations, Human Rights: International Instruments (New York: United Nations Publications, 1995): 1-10.

(95.) For further details on this, see International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook: October 1997 (Washington, D.C.: IMF, 1977), 46.

(96.) Dawn, 15 January 1997, 13.

(97.) Larry Diamond offers this explanation in The New York Times, 1 June 1997, E3.

(98.) For more on this point, see Richard A. Wilson, ed., Human Rights: Culture & Context: Anthropological Perspectives (London: Pluto Press, 1997).

(99.) Charles F. Andrain and David E. Apter, Political Protest and Social Change: Analyzing Politics (New York: New York University Press, 1995), 91.

(100.) Lisa Anderson, "Fulfilling Prophecies," 18.

MAHMOOD MONSHIPOURI (B.A., Teacher's Training University, Tehran, Iran; M.A., Allamah Tabatabai University, Tehran, Iran; Ph.D., University of Georgia) is professor and chair of political science at Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Connecticut. He is author of Islamism, Secularism, and Human Rights in the Middle East and Democratization, Liberalization, and Human Rights in the Third World. His articles have appeared in Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, Ethics and International Affairs, Journal of Church and State, The Muslim World, Journal of Third World Studies, Middle East Policy, and the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Special interests include Middle East politics, ethics in foreign policy, human rights and democracy in the Third World. An earlier draft of this paper was delivered at the Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association, 13-15 November 1997, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The author wishes to thank the anonymous referees for their incisive comments as well as Professors Ian Lustick, Louis J. Cantori, and Ann Mosely Lesch for their valuable comments. Some of the arguments and themes presented here are further elaborated in my book Islamism, Secularism, and Human Rights in the Middle East (1998).3
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Author:Monshipouri, Mahmood
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Article Type:Book Review
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Date:Jun 22, 1999
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