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Democracy in the Maghreb

  • George Joffé

Abstract

The concept of democracy has one meaning — I believe the true and original meaning — for which I hold a high value well worth fighting for. Democracy has not proved to be a certain protection against tyranny and oppression, as once it was hoped. Nevertheless, as a convention which enables any majority to rid itself of government it does not like, democracy is of inestimable value.1

I accord institutions only secondary influence over the destiny of men. I am thoroughly convinced that political societies are not what their laws make them but what they are prepared in advance to be by the feelings, the beliefs, the ideas, the habits of heart and mind of the men who compose them.2

At the height of their civilization, the Arabs translated all Greek philosophical and scientific books. They translated Aristotle and Plato, yet neglected the concept of democracy, that is to say, the concept of democratic organization. They had no need for it because it is alien to the Arab/Muslim mentality. The citizen himself does not feel the need for choice, whereas he has a keen sense of justice. He needs justice with regard to the police, judges and rulers. These are elements of Arab/Muslim mentality, from God’s word to Ibn Khaldun, who never spoke about freedom, but laid the stress on justice, which he considered one of the pillars of a thriving society.3

Keywords

Political Party Political System Middle East Political Culture Arab World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Hayek, F., New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, economics and the History of Ideas (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1978), p. 152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
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  3. 14.
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  5. 15.
    See Ayubi, N., Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World (Routledge, London, 1991),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  7. 17.
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  9. 19.
    The terms is Zartman’s (see Zartman, I. W., Government and Politics in North Africa, Methuen, London, 1963, p. 13). It means a system which may not be a ‘procedural democracy, in the Western sense of parliamentarianism’ but is one ‘in which popular aspirations are known and satisfied despite the absence of formal parliamentary machinery’.Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    Joffé, E. G. H., ‘A View from the South’, in Thomas, C. and Saravanamuttu, P., Conflict and Consensus in North/South Security (Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 165;Google Scholar
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    Details of these movements are given in Boulby, M., ‘The Islamic Challenge in Tunisia since Independence’, Third World Quarterly, 10, 2 April 1988, and Dwyer, K., Arab Voices: The Human Rights Debate in the Middle East (Routledge, London, 1991), pp. 40–6. Indeed, in the 1990s the Bin Ali regime ousted the An-Nahda party (the renamed MTI) out of political existence and forced its leadership into exile. The result is that there is now no effective organized expression of political Islam inside Tunisia.Google Scholar
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    Roberts, H., ‘Radical Islam and the Dilemma of Algerian Nationalism’, Third World Quarterly, 10, 2 April 1988, p. 578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Lek Hor Tan, ‘Democracy Scores an Own Goal’, (Index on Censorship, 5, 1992), p. 20.Google Scholar
  16. 30.
    Joffé, G., ‘The Politics of Islamic Reassertion in Algeria’, in Nonneman, G., The Middle East and Europe: an Integrated Systems Approach (Federal Trust, London, 1992), pp. 208–12.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Joffé

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