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Dealing with the consequences of democracy (redux)

Here’s something I posted back in 2005, which I think is relevant given recent developments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

First I quoted the neoconservative writer Reuel Marc Gerecht (unfortunately his piece is no longer online):

[A]re Muslim democracies that restrict women’s social rights in practice morally superior to Muslim dictatorships that advance them in theory? I think the answer is an emphatic yes, but the [Bush] administration has so far shown little desire to argue this possibility, thereby allowing the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd to suggest that Saddam Hussein, who was the first Middle Eastern dictator to institute rape as an official means of mind control, was more pro-woman than the democratically sanctioned constituent assembly that drafted Iraq’s proposed constitution.

To which I responded:

I agree, on the condition that democracy is more than one person, one vote, one time. That is, women must be guaranteed the right to protest freely any restrictions on their rights and to advocate their cause to the public. Women must always have the right to run for office, organize politically and vote for candidates who represent their views. And there must be no Iranian-style supreme religious councils which can overturn actions of elected governments.

With such conditions, I’m not terribly worried about women’s rights being suppressed for very long.

Given those crucial conditions, I stand by that. The hard part is ensuring that those conditions exist and are enforced.