The case for Arab democracy  JUL 28 2009

The governments of the Arab world have failed to make their people free, rich, and safe.

As the decades roll by the excuses wear thin. Islam has not prevented democracy from taking root in the Muslim countries of Asia. Even after its recent flawed election, Iran, a supposed theocracy, shows greater democratic vitality than most Arab countries. As for outside intrusion, some of the more robust Arab elections of recent years have been held by Palestinians, under Israeli occupation, and by Iraqis after America's invasion. When they are given a chance to take part in genuine elections -- as, lately, the Lebanese were -- Arabs have no difficulty understanding what is at stake and they turn out to vote in large numbers. By and large it is their own leaders who have chosen to prevent, rig or disregard elections, for fear that if Arabs had a say most would vote to throw the rascals out.

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