By Reuel Mark Gerecht

This monograph concludes that, ironically, those that have hated the us the main now carry the keys to spreading democracy within the Muslim heart East.

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Extra resources for The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists, and the Coming of Arab Democracy

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Accordingly, popular elections are necessary so that each Iraqi who is of voting age can choose his representative for a constituent assembly. And then any Basic Law written by this assembly must be approved by a national referendum. 42 In the history of Islam, this opinion is revolutionary, equal to Khomeini’s assertion of clerical supremacy. There is little reference in this judgment, which was issued on June 28, 2003, to Islam, and REUEL MARC GERECHT 37 what reference there is, for a senior cleric who has devoted his life to the study of Islamic law, verges on the pro forma.

Given how rapidly bin Ladenism went from an idea to an operational reality, we are of course lucky this is so. In twenty years, the Iranian revolution collapsed and the clerical regime, not the United States, became the principal focus of the people’s anger. The same process is unavoidable in Egypt and elsewhere in the Muslim world, if Islamic activists become dictators or elected representatives wielding real power. And the reverberations of a democratic success in Iraq could be large. Sistani’s arguments and actions in favor of democracy are likely to have more traction in the Sunni world than Khomeini’s revolutionary call.

And both Arab Sunnis and Shiites regularly remark 44 THE ISLAMIC PARADOX about the lack of revenge killing since the fall of Saddam Hussein even though the pursuit of revenge (intiqam) for perceived wrongs is a leitmotif of Iraqi Arab culture. ”51 Culturally, the two communities are very close. Intermarriage is not uncommon. Geographically, the two are dispersed. Iraq’s second city, Basra, located deep in the Shiite south, has a population which is probably about one quarter Sunni. Baghdad, which the Sunnis think of as their own, is now probably majority Shiite, perhaps decisively so.

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