In an op-ed for Open Democracy on April 6, 2009, POMED Director of Research Shadi Hamid addresses concerns that the United States will have irreconcilable differences with a more democratic, and likely Islamist, political atmosphere in the Middle East.
In early March 2009, a group of more than 100 experts and scholars from the United States and the Muslim world issued an open letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to make support for democracy in the middle east a top priority. The letter – convened by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracyand the Project on Middle East Democracy – has drawn significant media and public attention, including an editorial in the Washington Post which said “[the letter’s] depth and breadth vividly shows that the Obama administration could find many allies for progressive change in the Middle East – if only it looks beyond the rulers’ palaces” (see “Democracy’s Appeal: Will President Obama listen to liberal activists in the Muslim world?”, Washington Post, 14 March 2009).
This is indeed the message we hope to convey: that the region is ready – and has long been ready – for substantive democratic change, and that a diverse coalition of middle-eastern actors (including moderate Islamists, liberals, and leftists) hopes that the American president will not forget their struggle against autocracy.
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