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June 4, 2004 Clip No. 129

Sheik Youssef Al-Qaradhawi in Favor of Democratic Elections in the Arab World

In his Friday sermon at a mosque in Doha, Qatar, which was aired live by Qatar TV, Sheik Youssef Al-Qaradhawi criticized the electoral system in the Arab world and called for Western-style elections. Following are excerpts from his sermon:

What prevents us from adopting the election system of Western democracy? Is there anything that prevents us from having ballots and everyone expressing their opinions? What's stopping us?

But, oh brothers, I would like to make an important point. What's important is the essence, not the form of democracy. There are many democracies in our Arab and Islamic countries, but unfortunately, they are all false democracies. They are democracies with 99.99% support (for the leader). Is this possible? Can anyone possibly get such support, as if nobody opposes him?

That is what happens in our countries. We took from the socialists this kind of elections or referenda, which a Marxist journalist once described as a one-horse race. In a regular race there should be a number of horses, not just one? Who would he compete with?

"Do you vote for so-and-so or not" is not a democracy. It should be "do you vote for this one, this one, or this one." This is democracy, when you can choose between several people. This, unfortunately, is what is lacking in many of our countries.

In addition, a certain heretical innovation has appeared in our Arab and Islamic countries: Eternal republics. Okay, monarchies and emirates have a known dynastic regime, with its own rules and regulations. But in a republic, administrations and presidents should change.

But in our countries, the president is eternal, never leaves his throne. In many countries one finds a few former presidents in one assembly. At a meeting in the US, the current President Bush, Clinton, Bush Senior, Reagan and Carter were all present? Four or five former presidents.

What (Arab) republic, except Lebanon, has a former president? None, because a president must die, be assassinated or be usurped. But there is a heretical innovation in our Arab and Islamic countries: bequeathing the presidency of a republic. The presidency is bequeathed from father to son, like an estate that a son inherits from his father or the grandson from his grandfather. This, however, is not the kind of democracy we want.

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