What is the role of Islam in the fight for democracy? This course will look at four Muslim-majority countries - Indonesia, Turkey, Iran and Egypt - and create a frame for trying to understand the uprisings roiling the Middle East. The class will discuss the work and ideas of democratic activists from the Islamic world, place those activists in the narrative of democracy and religion-state relations, and examine their opponents from both the secular side and the religious side.
In Indonesia, a student-led uprising in 1998 ended Suharto's 32 years of jackboot rule, and the nation's rocky decade of democratization would not have been successful without the crucial contribution of Muslims with conceptions of Islam that are compatible with democratic values. In Turkey, the Justice and Development Party has evolved from its Islamist roots to championing democracy as the ruling party, despite a backlash from Turkey's wary secularists. From our look at the role of Islam in furthering democracy in Indonesia and Turkey, the class will examine why the opposite has been true in Iran. We will look at the crushing of the Green Movement in the name of a theocratic Islamic state. These successes and failures will lead us to the ongoing drama in Egypt, where pro-democracy activists triggered Hosni Mubarak's ouster despite his years of insisting that without him Egypt would fall to hardline Islamists intent on creating an Islamic state. We will chart Egypt's new politics with an eye on Islam and democracy.