Democracy: Ideas, Issues & Challenges
(especially in the context of human rights and crimes against humanity)

Introductory comments:

A vast part of the world, including the Muslim world, is under autocratic, unrepresentative and repressive forms of government. This prevailing condition is due to factors that as much internal to these societies as are external. It is no surprise that the genocide in 1971 in Bangladesh (former East Pakistan) occurred under a military regime that was also an ally of a western superpower. Scholars in the fields of genocide and other pertinent areas are making the case that democracy often prevents or mitigates genocides.

While such propositions require further scrutiny, there are important historical basis in support of such propositions.

In the context of the genocide in 1971, some people have put Islam on trial. On the contrary, there are some Muslims who are opposed to democracy. The reality is that many people are often confused by or preoccupied with labels. Whatever labels we use, it should not require very sophisticated analysis or argument to understand that a representative form of governance and power structure is better expected to handle the power and authority than an unrepresentative form of governance.

In case of Islam, which was also used as a cover in 1971 in Bangladesh, to repress the Bangalis in the former East Pakistan. The vast majority of  these Bangalis were Muslims, but that did not prevent this genocide by the ruling elites of Pakistan.

It is important to recognize that representative form of governance is a key component of preventing genocides of the future, especially against the fellow citizens. In case of Islam and Muslims, it is equally important to note that, despite the prevailing political culture, Islam stands for a constitutional, participatory and accountable form of governance. The underlying spirit and principle of such governance needs to be nurtured and strengthened.

Thus, in general, the principle of representation in governance needs to be promoted and upheld. For the same reason, discourses involving democracy and representative form of governance have become critically important. In the Muslim world, such discourse is directly related to a positive and objective discourse in the context of Islam.

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