1. Preaching Hatred in America
2. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the OIC on “The Role of the Media in West-Islam Relations” – Sept. 21
3. My Trip to Al-Qaeda – by Lawrence Wright – Sept. 22-24


4. What do they say about CSID?
5. Worldview | Turkey”s democracy faces a test (by Trudy Rubin)
6. Turkey – Gul Elected to Turkey”s Presidency (by Ellen Knickmeyer)
7. Muslim Democracy in Action (by Jackson Diehl)
8. A Religious Candidate Is Ascendant in Turkey (by Sabrina Tavernise and Sebnem Arsu)
9. Former Islamist Wins Turkish Presidency (by Suzan Fraser)
10. Islam and Democracy (The Guardian)
11. Europe should celebrate milestone in Turkey’s transition (by David Gardner)
12. Turkey and Democracy in the Muslim World (by Mohamed Nawab Mohd Osman)
13. Turkey discredits some Orientalist myths (by Rami G. Khouri)
14. As Democracy Push Falters, Bush Feels Like a “Dissident” (by Peter Baker)
15. Empty-hearted secularism (by Azmi Bishara)
16. A Plight in Tunisia (by Nasser Weddady and Jesse Sage)
17. Tunisian democracy: To hope or despair? (by Kamel Labidi)
18. Egypt – Their Only Witness (by Hany Safwat)
19. Egypt”s Unchecked Repression (by Saad Eddin Ibrahim)
20. A new push for change in the war on terror (by Alexandra Marks)
21. TO DEFEAT THE TALIBAN: Fight Less, Win More (by Nathaniel Fick)
22. Why America is losing to al-Qaida (by David Schanzer)
23. Not so fast, Christian soldiers (by Michael L. Weinstein and Reza Aslan)
24. A Response to Western Views of Islamist Movements (by Radwan Ziadeh)
25. Islamic Spain: History”s refrain (by Alexander Kronemer)
26. Of Islam and Inventions (by Anahad O’Connor)
27. Muhammadiyah warns of misunderstanding of Islamic teachings (thejakartapost.com)
28. Islam”s message of tolerance (by Mohammad Habash)
29. The Politics of God (by Mark Lilla)


31. CSID: Office Space Available for Sublease (Washington DC)
32. Arab Insight Quarterly – “Do We Hate America?” The Arab World Responds
33. 2008-2009 USIP Senior Fellowship Competition
34. CALL FOR PAPERS – International Conference on Inter-Asian Connections (Dubai, UAE: February 21-24, 2008)


Recently, Mr. Daniel Pipes launched a vicious, biased and ignorant attack on CSID as well as against Mr. Irvin Borowsky, Carl Gershman, and Joshua Muravchik for working with and supporting CSID. This vicious attack came in the form of an article posted on FrontPageMagazine.com and two articles posted on an unknown and shadowy website http://www.pipelinenews.org/, dedicated to promoting hatred and fear of Islam and Muslims in America. It is worth mentioning that both pipelinenews.org and the so-called Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP) were both founded by Daniel Pipes himself, so it is not surprising that they would advocate his extremist views, not only about CSID but about Islam in general. In the following, I will try to address all of the points or accusations made in the two articles against CSID, and prove that they are all false:

1. These allegations are not new, they are a rehash of false accusations made by Daniel Pipes in 2004, when he tried to prevent the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) from collaborating with CSID. As you remember, the USIP Board of Directors decided to take a stand against Mr. Pipes” allegations, and issued a public statement rebuking Mr. Pipes, and clearing CSID”s name as a moderate and respectable think tank organization (please see the USIP Statement below).

2. CSID is proud to be a multi-faith organization. Nearly half of its members and supporters, and probably more, (we are not sure, because we do not ask them what their religion is) are not even Muslim. Many are Christians and Jews, and others, who share a desire to live in peace and harmony with Muslims, both in America and in the Muslim World. Half the members of the Board of Directors are also not Muslims, and for this reason, we have refrained from calling CSID an “American Muslim” organization.

3. It is utterly ridiculous to claim that CSID is part of the “Militant Islamist lobby”. If many of us are not even Muslim, how can we be “Islamist”? And if we are not “Islamist”, how can we be “Militant”? CSID has consistently, and for the past 8 years, spoken in favor of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, religious dialogue and harmony, respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, and democracy in America and throughout the world. Yes, we have advocated, and continue to advocate the rights of “moderate Islamists”, who denounce and reject violence and terrorism, to be engaged in dialogue and in the political system of their own countries, but we have also consistently defended and engaged Muslim democracy activists, scholars, and leaders of all stripes (moderate Islamists, liberal reformists and secularists) throughout the world.

4. CSID is an independent non-profit NGO (501-c-3 org.) and is not a “subsidiary” of any other entity. Throughout the past 8 years, we have received donations and contributions from the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) that amount to approximately $18,000 in total, which represents roughly 0.7% of our budget. We are also proud of our collaboration with IIIT, which even though it was raided in 2002, has not been accused of any wrongdoing – more than 5 years after the raids. Sheikh Taha Jaber Alalwani, a former board member of CSID, (between 1999 and 2002) is in fact a well known and well respected Muslim scholar, who has consistently advocated moderation and condemned violence. Despite the unsubstantiated allegations made by Mr. David Kane, Sheikh Taha has never been accused or charged for any wrongdoing. Guilt by association is a vicious and deceptive practice and a favorite of demamogues since time immemorial — and for Pipes and his followers. CSID is “vulnerable” for the very reason that it invites a wide range of people to articulate a wide range of views regarding Islam and democracy. Pipes has even attacked neo-conservative thinkers at the American Enterprise Institute, such as Joshua Muravchik, for speaking at CSID conferences. It would be false to then imply that AEI endorses CSID anymore than CSID endorses AEI.

5. Mr. Borowsky, a well known Jewish leader and philanthropist, is interested in peace-building and was ELECTED by the members of CSID to the Board of Directors in 2004 (over three years ago). He has attended CSID events and conferences for many years before that, and therefore he knows CSID quite well. Radwan Masmoudi, President of CSID, spoke at the National Liberty Museum back in 2003. This relationship is not new, and we are very proud of it, because it proves that American Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others can work together in mutual respect, dignity and honor for the good of our country and the world. CSID does not now, and never has, subscribed to the “Dhimmi mentality”. We believe in, speak for, practice, and advocate equal rights for all citizens, and respect for peoples of all faiths.

6. We are shocked and disappointed by the quote from Mr. Pipes that “should Islamists get smart and avoid mass destruction, but instead stick to the lawful-political and non-violent route, and should their movement remain vital, it is difficult to see what will stop them” to again link CSID somehow with Islamists, and claim that all Islamists (even those who reject violence) are enemies of the US. This is nonsense, because moderate Islamists represent roughly between 30 and 40% of the 1.5 Billion Muslims worldwide, and it is entirely their right to organize, mobilize, and express their opinions peacefully. If they did so, and rejected the violent route, this would be a major step forward for the whole world, and the United States should encourage them to do so! Pipes again demonstrates here what the Washington Post editors once described as his “disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims.”

The second Article:

7. CSID has never been a “Saudi Think Tank” and has never received a single penny from the Saudi government or any Saudi institution. Even when we organized a conference on Islam and Democracy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2004, it was funded by the USIP, and not by the Saudi government. CSID has consistently spoken against theocracy (whether in Saudi Arabia or Iran) and in favor of Muslim democracy, which is based on Islamic values, but respects and provides equal rights to all its citizens. When there are “Saudi Think Tanks” with Shi’a, Christian and Jewish board members, chaired by a woman and that hold conferences on “The Rights of Women in Islam” then CSID will probably have achieved its mission.

8. CSID believes very strongly in interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and understanding. We not only practice it within CSID, but also encourage it and promote at every turn and opportunity we get. We reject the idea that “faith-sharing is a one-way proposition and a means of recruiting converts”. We have in fact never invited anyone to convert to Islam, or to any other religion. We have simply tried to inform everyone about the common heritage, history, and beliefs that Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) share. The author”s hostility to and ignorance of Islam reaches the point of absurdity when he or she writes of “the preposterous assertion that Islam is one of the ‘Abrahamic faiths,’ thus creating a false sense of kinship and moral equivalency with Judaism and Christianity.” We refer the authors to the Book of Genesis.

9. CSID does not aim to “Islamize America,” as the author proclaims. Our stated goals, clear to everyone who has read our publications or participated in our events, is to promote peace, tolerance, freedom, and democracy in America and in the Muslim World. We do not believe that the concept of “Islamic democracy” is oxymoronic at all (as neither is Christian democracy or Jewish democracy). All these Abrahamic traditions have deeply entrenched notions of intrinsic human dignity and hospitality which are conducive to pluralistic and democratic values. Through mutual understanding, America in particular and the Muslim world can come to appreciate the common ground between them. This will help to make for a more peaceful world.

10. The speakers at the Dec. 9 event in Phildelphia (Irv Borowsky, Geneive Abdo, Asma Afsaruddin, Abdallah Idris, and Radwan Masmoudi) all spoke about religious harmony, dialogue, mutual understanding and respect in America and in the world. Geneive Abdo is a well-known scholar and journalist, and she speaks frequently at mosques, synagogues, and churches throughout America. It is impossible for her to check the history of every staff member or board member at every mosque or institution she speaks at, especially if these allegations date back over 10 years. Tariq Ramadan is a well-known and respected Muslim scholar and leader who has never advocated nor supported terrorism. CSID and hundreds of other NGO”s have criticized the decision of the DHS to deny a visa for Prof. Ramadan to teach at the University of Notre Dame. America would have been a richer place had Mr. Ramadan been allowed to come, live here, and represent America to the outside world.

11. Mr. Jani Seyed is in fact not (and has never been) the webmaster of CSID. He is a computer engineer, who has studied under Prof. Sami Al-Iryane at University of Florida, and who was hired by CSID as a contractor to assist in designing and troubleshooting our website. To the best of our knowledge, he has never committed any crime.

We urge all peace-loving and freedom-loving Americans to denounce this non-sensical and absurd attack by Mr. Pipes against an organization that has been, for eight years, at the forefront of the struggle to promote freedom and democracy in the Muslim world, and help build mutual understanding, cooperation, and respect between all religions to build a more peaceful world for all.

Radwan Masmoudi

President, CSID


The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding presents

Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu
Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference

“The Role of the Media in West-Islam Relations”

Friday, 21 September 2007 9:00 am
Mortara Center Conference Room
3600 N Street NW

For more information and to RSVP for the event, please email Brian Glenn at [email protected]


My Trip to Al-Qaeda

by Lawrence Wright

September 22-24, 2007
Kennedy Center
Washington, DC

Buy Tickets: http://www.lawrencewright.com/

This unique presentation is based on Wright’s recent bestseller, The Looming Tower. According to the New York Times, “More than a linear narrative about the formation of Al Qaeda, the show is an informal scrapbook of Middle Eastern politics and culture seen through a Westerner’s sharp, informed and sometimes sorrowful eyes, complete with visual aids in the form of slides and video clips.” More on the show…

This unique presentation is based on Wright’s bestseller, The Looming Tower. According to the New York Times, “More than a linear narrative about the formation of Al Qaeda, the show is an informal scrapbook of Middle Eastern politics and culture seen through a Westerner’s sharp, informed and sometimes sorrowful eyes, complete with visual aids in the form of slides and video clips.” View a video excerpt…

What do they say about CSID?

In response to the Statement signed by Daniel Pipes and by CIP’s four board members, we attach below quotes from over 40 well-known leaders and scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, about CSID’s activities and success in promoting a tolerant, modern, and democratic interpretation of Islam, and in building better bridges of understanding between the US and the Muslim world.

“The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) plays an absolutely vital role in creating a platform for the voices of democracy and reform throughout the Muslim World. Equally vital is the role they play in bringing a better understanding of the diversity within Islam to the people of America. CSID”s advocacy of Islamic values coupled with democratic principles needs and merits our support.”

John D. Sullivan, Executive Director
Center for International Private Enterprise

“The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy has for seven years played a critical role in setting out a vision of a Muslim world that would be modern and democratic, in promoting debate about the political development of the Middle East, and in promoting better appreciation of Islam at a time when distrust and misunderstanding are rampant.”

Francis Fukuyama
Johns Hopkins University

“Today, more than ever, we in the United States of America and beyond need to hear, understand, and promote the voices of reason, moderation, and democracy among Muslims. The CSID is one of the most articulate platforms serving this need. Through the CSID we can and have been tackling the deficit of democracy, human rights, especially women”s rights in many Islamic societies. By supporting CSID we help support dialogue and understanding, instead of clash, among civilizations.”

Nayereh Tohidi, Professor & Department Chair
Women”s Studies, CSUN & UCLA

“The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy is one of the most important institutions in the West helping to bring concepts of political liberalization, democratization and rule of law to states in the Muslim world. It engages in direct and personal outreach to Muslim leaders around the world; indeed, many of the Center”s leaders come from Muslim background themselves and therefore possess an understanding of Muslim culture and an appreciation of how best to promote these ideas within traditional societies. CSID enjoys a reputation of independence, balance and integrity, free of any taint of association with the policies of any administration. Today the Muslim world is in deep crisis; its peoples are frustrated and suffering from lack of any voice over the policies of their own governments. It is only this democratic option– achieved not through foreign intervention but through the work of local activists–that represents the best hope for the future of the region. CSID is at the center of these activities.”

Graham E. Fuller
Author of The Future of Political Islam

“There is no American Muslim organization that understands Islam and America as well as CSID and at the same time knows how to meet the challenges of promoting a better understanding of the issues of common interests between the United States and global Muslims.”

Omar Kader, PhD
President, Pal-Tech Inc.

“In just a few years, CSID has done remarkable work in facilitating the vital discussion about Islam and democracy in the United States and beyond. In so doing it has made an invaluable contribution to breaking down prejudice and misunderstanding and to meeting the crucial challenge of advancing human rights and democracy in the Muslim world.”

Neil Hicks, Director
Human Rights Defenders Program

“The work the CSID is doing is remarkable. It works in and on one of the most difficult regions of the world with patience, consistency and commitment. CSID is a symbol that Islam and Democracy are not only compatible but can be mutually reinforcing.”

Razmik Panossian, Director
Rights & Democracy, Canada

“CSID was talking about the importance of Muslim democracy as early as 1999, long before it was popular. In this respect and in so many others, it has been that rare organization – ahead of the curve, willing to carve out strong, principled positions, and able to bridge the theoretical with the practical through its programming. Today, when so many are despairing of the possibility that Arab democracy may yet come, CSID remains steadfast in its belief that democracy is not – and cannot be – the purview of only some peoples, cultures, and religions. No, democracy is universal and few have done more to convey this vital point than CSID.”

Shadi Hamid, Associate
The Project on Middle East Democracy

“The CSID”s role is crucial in Muslim societies and in the West. It is instrumental in contextualizing democracy in Muslim societies by underscoring the areas where Islam values and democratic principles meet. The CSID also bridges this arbitrary and unnecessary gap between the Muslim democrats and the secular democrats, an essential step for making the establishment of democracy and effective participatory systems a mainstream quest. Further, the CSID”s role in the US is equally important in presenting the moderate, tolerant and pluralistic nature of Islam.”

Emad El-Din Shahin, Visiting Professor
Harvard University

“There are few issues of greater concern to the future of the Muslim world than the prospects for democracy. CSID has pioneered the promotion of democracy at the practical level, and in this regard has provided invaluable service through education and social activism.”

Vali Nasr, Professor
Naval Postgraduate School

“CSID is a crucial part of the global effort to democratize Muslim society around the world. Again and again others ask, “where are the moderate Muslims?” They are everywhere, of course, in the hundreds of millions, but nowhere are they more clearly expressed and represented than in the work and words of CSID.”

Michael Wolfe, Author & Film Producer
Unity Productions Foundation

“CSID has been a pioneer from the very start of its existence. Most recently, it has focused its energies on promoting understanding and dialogue between secularists and Islamists— path-breaking work that has won it praises in both the Islamic world and the West.”

Daniel Brumberg
Georgetown University & USIP

“The CSID is doing vital work to explore and demonstrate the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and to promote innovative thinking, fresh analysis, informed assessment, and free debate on the need for democratic development and reform in the Muslim world. Now, more than ever, when we need understanding of Islam in the United States, and tolerant, moderate, and democratic voices of Islam to be heard worldwide, we need the CSID, and it merits generous support.”

Larry Diamond
Stanford University

“I would like to congratulate CSID on the excellent work done by the Center over the past 7 years. I remember when Dr. Radwan Masmoudi single-mindedly began this timely initiative. He, along with many other dedicated scholars, has brought international prominence to the organization. There is nothing more important than promoting democracy in the Muslim world and CSID should be commended for their efforts. The twenty-first century will be the century of democracy in Islam.”

Akbar S. Ahmed
American University

“CSID provides a valuable source of discussion and debate on issues which are crucial to the world we live in today, and engages a wide range of authoritative views in the process. The Centre has added real value in its first seven years.”

David French, Chief Executive
Westminster Foundation for Democracy, London

“I have admired the work of CSID in promoting genuine democracy in the Muslim world. I am extremely grateful to them for facilitating contacts with their global network of Muslim scholars and political practitioners. I have found their papers insightful and their work essential in counter balancing the negative perception of a clash of civilizations between the Muslim and Western worlds.”

Oliver McTernan
Director of Forward Thinking, UK

“In a few short years, CSID has propelled itself into a vital role in promoting democracy and toleration in the Muslim world, both conceptually and practically, in a manner that has earned it much respect. Its mission in Muslim countries cannot be more important and timely and is supplemented by another important mission in perusing good and responsible citizenship in the United States.”

Shibley Telhami
Univ. of Maryland and the Brookings Institution

“In our ‘global village,’ one that celebrates diversity and self-determination, it is notable that the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy is the only US-based Muslim organization promoting genuine democracy in Muslim-majority countries. Other American efforts, however well-intentioned, are not rooted in both scholarly and innate understandings of Islam nor appreciation for cultural distinctions among Muslims. Empowerment of Muslims by Muslims is essential for substance, sustainability and success.”

Anisa Mehdi, President
Whetstone Productions

“These are difficult times for Muslim Democrats. All the more reason why the painstaking work that the CSID undertakes in the Arab and Islamic world to train and encourage Muslim Democrats, is of greater importance than ever, for CSID stands uncompromised, and its mission more critical than ever before.”

S. Abdallah Schleifer
Washington bureau chief, Al Arabiya Channel

“The important challenge of our time is creating peaceful vibrant communities with a strong civil society sector. CSID”s superb work promotes real cross-cultural understanding and engages people to take their civic responsibilities seriously. There are very few American Muslim organizations that are successful in executing workshops, conferences and educational programs which bring serious debate and dialogue. CSID”s constructive engagement has fostered peace and tolerance in the global community.”

Qamar-ul Huda, Ph.D.
United States Institute of Peace

“Those of us who benefit from working in countries with strong democratic traditions and a free enterprise system understand the importance of CSID. Radwan Masmoudi founded CSID to promote political liberties in the Muslim World a couple of years before the September 11 attacks. Its efforts were needed then, and are more needed today. CSID democratic convictions and its moderate interpretation of Islam are helping create a rich dialogue around the world and is a source of hope for millions of Islamic friends of the free society.”

Alex Chafuen, President
Atlas Economic Research Foundation

“CSID is one of the most courageous and important institutions today in the Muslim world. There is nothing more important for the steady growth and empowerment of the Muslim world than genuine, culturally authentic processes of democratization that CSID has advocated and pioneered. This is the truly nonviolent way for the Muslim world to become empowered and meet in a spirit of nonviolence and peace with the other cultural worlds that occupy our crowded earth. I am very encouraged by all of their work.”

Marc Gopin
Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and
Conflict Resolution, George Mason University

“CSID, since its inception, has been bringing together the best minds in academia, as well as in the Muslim community of North America, to discuss the relationship of Islam to democracy. Thanks to these efforts we now have available, several articles, and some monographs, that deal exhaustively with Islamic law and democratic rule, democracy in the Muslim World, and, Islam in the United States.”

Muneer Fareed, Ph.D., Secretary General
Islamic Society of North America

“The most important issue that needs to be addressed in the Muslim World is about enabling self governance. CSID is not only at the forefront, but is uniquely dedicated to this goal, to help the Muslim World develop epistemologies of self governance and learn how to balance the imperatives of Islam and the virtues of democracy.”

Muqtedar Khan, Professor & Author of Islamic
Democratic Discourse, University of Delaware

“The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy fills an important niche in current discussions of whether democracy is compatible with Islam. Its work highlights the ideas and writings of scholars who believe in a liberal interpretation of Islam. By doing so, the Center both disseminates information that combats stereotypes about Islam and encourages scholars fighting to define what Islam means in the 21st century.”

Marina Ottaway, Director, Middle East Program
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“It is difficult for me to overemphasize the professional and personal value I have found in the global work of CSID, and in attending its annual meetings for several years in a row. This is because I for over 20 years have been a professor at an evangelical Christian university, with a current specialization on the clash within Islam today between the rationales various Muslim groups give for their moderation or militancy. I recently described CSID”s value in Chuck Colson”s www.Breakpoint.org website (archived 8/22/2006): “As for the democratic side of this Islamic clash, a good source for examining their efforts and literature for democracy education, both in English and in Arabic, is the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Washington, D.C. (Radwan Masmoudi, president).” Democracy education is precisely where we Jewish, Christian and Muslim members of CSID find our most fruitful, and encouraging, exchanges and contributions in the face of modern extremist and statist remedies.”

Joseph N. Kickasola, M.Div., Ph.D.
Professor, Regent University

“At a time of great challenges to the Islamic culture, CSID has provided a forum for thinkers and reformers from various ideological streams to engage in serious debates & dialogues about crucial issues that have been avoided for a long time.”

Wael Nawara, Writer & Activist
Co-founder & Former Sec. Gen. of El Ghad Party

“The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy has become an important source of knowledge about Islam both for non-Muslims as well as Muslims. In seven years, it has become a model for Muslim minority communities on how to effectively engage their governments by uniting their voices.”

Amina Rasul, Lead Convenor
Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy

“CSID”s endeavor in the past 7 years to promote a better understanding of Islam in the West and a genuine dialogue in the Muslim world about Islam and democracy is worthy of our admiration and sustained support. CSID”s efforts to promote a dialogue about democracy that is rooted in the respect for the rights of all human beings everywhere in the world to lead a free and dignified life in fulfillment of their God-given potential help in bridging the gap between the West and the Muslim world, at a time when this gap has never been wider.”

Randa Slim, Vice President
International Institute for Sustained Dialogue

“As peoples of the Muslim world ponder democratic alternatives that grow out of their own cultures, alternatives that they are beginning to act on and will inevitably attain in the future, they will owe a great debt to the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. In the brief span of its existence CSID has nobly served as a bridge between cultures, worldviews and civilizations. Here in the West it has greatly helped us understand how to engender mutual understanding between the West and the Muslim world to the mutual benefit of both.”

Robert R. LaGamma, Executive Director
Council for a Community of Democracies

“CSID has lead the battle of democracy in Islamic World and promoting the rethinking in Islam from new perspectives.”

Radwan Ziadeh, Director
Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies

“It was our great privilege in IFID that we cooperated with CSID in a number of projects in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in Europe and USA. Not only CSID was so innovative in their work based on a modern democratic and moderate interpretation of Islam and greater understanding of Islam in the United States, but alos promoting genuine democracy in the Muslim World.”

Najah kadhim
International Forum for Islamic Dialogue

“CSID is a very important collaborating partner with CCD on a “Transition to Democracy” project for activists and leaders from Middle East and North African countries meeting in conversation with East European and African leaders who have successfully made such a transition and exploring how these experiences can be applied in the Middle East and North African. The insights CSID brings to this endeavor are playing a key role in the creation of a “handbook” on democracy transition in the Middle East.”

Richard C. Rowson, President
Council for a Community of Democracies

“Dr. Masmoudi and his team at CSID are doing extremely important work to lay the foundation for the spread of democracy in the Muslim world. I cannot stress enough how much I respect and support their work”

Lorne Craner, President
International Republican Institute

“The CSID is free from tendentious activities, and by training Muslim youths across the globe, it lays the foundations for a solid growth of democratic societies in the troubled Islamic world. The CSID helps Muslims learn about democracy, while training the westerners to appreciate the essence of peaceful Islam, which has functioned as a creative culture for many centuries.”

Rasool Nafisi, PhD
Strayer University

“CSID has been doing very useful work in projecting a moderate and enlightened vision of Islam and promoting greater understanding of the Islamic world here in the United States, as well as advancing the cause of democracy and tolerance in the Muslim world by bringing together in proactive dialogue scholars and policy makers from both side of the divide.”

Amb. (Ret) A. Tariq Karim
Political Analyst and Ind. Consultant

“CSID is accomplishing a great mission in terms of promoting democracy and liberty in Muslim World, and developing a modern and moderate interpretation of Islam in US, through conferences, seminars and workshops. The world needs this great effort the most today.”

Dr. H. Ali Yurtsever, President
Rumi Forum, Washington DC

“CSID”s sincere efforts to bring an understanding between the two polarizing worlds is groundbreaking. CSID, a trailblazer in the field, contributes invaluably to the intellectual discourse on the closure of the chasm between Islam and the West.”

Merve Kavakci,
Former Member of the Turkish Parliament

“In the current global environment of growing animosity between the Western and Muslim worlds, CSID has played an invaluable role as bridge between these cultures. CSID”s programs that seek to promote cross-cultural understanding are crucial to bridging the divide between the West and the Muslim World.”

Mona Yacoubian
United States Institute of Peace

“CSID is a groundbreaking organization that has been an essential component in promoting democracy throughout the Muslim World and beyond, in fact. Its emphasis on adopting a moderate interpretation of Islam is truly inspirational and echoes the thoughts of a growing body of thinkers. In doing so, CSID has also done invaluable work towards promoting peace, understanding and goodwill across cultures, civilizations and religions.”

Sayyed Nadeem Kazmi LLB
Al-Khoei Foundation, London & New York

“The work of CSID and its activities, in the US and in the Arab and Islamic world, has had a tremendous impact in promoting moderate and centrist viewpoints against extremism and radicalism, which has appeared here and there. CSID has made an important contribution in linking Islam and democracy, as many people especially in the West, thought the two were incompatible. I especially appreciate CSID’s efforts to strengthen and promote a democratic culture in the Arab world, and the acceptance of democracy by Muslims leaders, as well as bringing Muslim democrats and secular democrats together. All of these efforts have born positive results, and need to be continued.”

Abou Elela Mady, Founder
Al-Wasat Party, Egypt


Worldview | Turkey”s democracy faces a test

The election of a devout Muslim as president could challenge the nation”s secular traditions.

By Trudy Rubin
Inquirer Columnist

The real test of whether Islam and democracy are compatible is taking place not in Iraq or in the Arab world but in Turkey. Right now.

Yesterday, a devout Muslim named Abdullah Gul, whose wife wears a head scarf, was elected president of Turkey by the country”s parliament. Turkey is a country where the presidency has traditionally been held by a secular figure, and women in head scarves are banned from government buildings.

Gul”s election has unnerved many secular Turks. He is a member of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, which is commonly described as having “Islamic roots”; his new post will give AK control over laws, education, and the appointment of judges. His rise has provoked deep opposition inside the Turkish military, which has zealously guarded the Turkish secular model that was established by modern Turkey”s founder, the legendary Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Shortly after the vote, I spoke to Bulent Gultekin, a top adviser to the former Prime Minister Turgut ضzal and a professor at University of Pennsylvania”s Wharton School. “This is definitely a change, a kind of shock,” he said on the phone from Istanbul. “Some people are depressed and concerned, and everyone is watching to see how things will turn out.”

Gul”s presidency will provide a fascinating test case of whether democracy can flourish where moderate Islamists hold power.

Gul started in politics as a member of a hard-line Islamist party banned by Turkey”s courts in 1998. But he broke with that party, and with the concept that politics should be based on Islam. As Turkey”s foreign minister over the last four years, he pressed for reforms that would enhance his country”s bid to join the European Union.

When AK first nominated Gul for president, in April, Turkey”s military strongly objected; the Turkish Supreme Court upheld a technical objection by the parliamentary opposition. In response, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for new elections, and his AK party sharply boosted its previous tally to nearly 47 percent of the total. In Turkey”s multiparty system, this was a smashing triumph, and AK was able to get a parliamentary endorsement of Gul.

But did this vote mean the public wanted a religious government? “Absolutely not,” says Henry Barkey, chairman of international relations at Lehigh University and a well-known specialist on Turkey. Barkey says, “Turkey is a conservative country and AK a pro-business, conservative party” comparable to center-right Christian Democratic parties in Europe.

“Economics is the number-one reason that people voted for AK,” says Barkey. The party”s policies have created an economic boom, expanded exports, and improved services. Meantime, secular opposition parties have had little positive to offer. Also, Turks of Kurdish origin voted heavily for AK because it has given them more rights.

Would AK, now that it controls both parliament and the presidency, try to impose more religious constraints on Turkey? Not at all, says Barkey: “Religiosity doesn”t sell televisions.” The new, pro-business middle class in the Turkish Anatolian heartland that supported the AK party may be traditionally religious, but it isn”t looking for religious law.

However, many secular Turks still worry about whether Gul”s conversion to moderation is wholehearted. The president has the power to veto laws: Will Gul give a blank check to legislation sponsored by his AK party? Secularists also are concerned about coming constitutional changes and fear AK hard-liners might seek more religious influence on schools.

The Turkish military chief, Gen. Yasar Büyükanit, posted an ominous note on the military”s Web site on Monday, warning of “centers of evil” that “systematically try to corrode the secular nature of the Turkish republic.” This post has sparked speculation about whether the military might intervene, as it has several times since 1960.

Such a move would be tragic – and very, very premature. The process that led to Gul”s selection was wholly democratic. Voters picked AK not because they want sharia law, but because self-defined secular parties failed to provide a convincing agenda. Instead of waiting for military intervention to restore their fortunes, those parties should rejuvenate themselves so they can attract more votes.

Gul has a chance to demonstrate to Turks, and to the West, that Muslim religious values can be incorporated into democratic politics within a secular, constitutionally based system. His party”s politics are more pro-Western than much of the secular opposition. The AK party rejects an Islamist label, describing itself as a conservative party of the center-right.

“This is a test of whether you can have a Muslim-Democratic party,” says Barkey. The State Department and White House, which were cool to the Gul candidacy, should encourage such a political model. The results matter greatly not only to Turkey, but to Europe and to us.

Contact columnist Trudy Rubin at 215-854-5823 or [email protected]. Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/trudyrubin


Gul Elected to Turkey”s Presidency

Parliament Defies Strongly Secular Military to Choose Figure Rooted in Political Islam

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, August 29, 2007; Page A12

CAIRO, Aug. 28 — Beaming as the votes were counted, a veteran government figure with roots in political Islam won a parliamentary vote to become Turkey”s president Tuesday, in defiance of the country”s strongly secular military. Abdullah Gul”s triumph presented Turkey”s generals with a choice: overthrow Gul in what would be a deeply unpopular coup or accommodate the rise of political Islam in the Muslim world”s most rigidly secular state.

Gul immediately sought to reassure the military and other doubters. “Turkey is a secular democracy. . . . These are basic values of our republic, and I will defend and strengthen these values,” he told parliament after taking the oath as Turkey”s 11th president.

Many Turks say the popularity of Gul”s mildly Islamic Justice and Development Party after five years in power, and the unprecedented economic prosperity it has brought, will probably shield it from any immediate putsch. Turkey”s military sees itself as the guardian of the secular state established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Generals have driven out four governments since 1960, including an overtly Islamic government in the 1990s in which Gul held a cabinet post.

Recent overthrows have been accomplished through pressure; the military has not used force to bring down a government since 1980.

Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, chief of the military, posted a statement on the military”s Web site Monday warning against “furtive plans that aim to undo modern advances and ruin the Turkish republic”s secular and democratic structure.” There was no immediate comment from the military after Gul”s election victory.

Gul won 339 votes in the 530-seat parliament.

His wife, Hayrunisa Gul — whose wearing of an Islamic-style head scarf has fixated Turkey”s generals and others in the secular opposition — was conspicuously absent from Gul”s swearing-in ceremony later Tuesday. Turkish law forbids the head scarf in public buildings.

Also absent were the military commanders who normally attend such ceremonies.

For the government, Gul”s election marked a victory after months of risky brushes with the military.

Gul initially had been poised to win the presidency in a vote parliament was to have held in April. A warning then from the military on its Web site and street protests by hundreds of thousands of secularists, as well as legal challenges, prompted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to back off from nominating Gul, his foreign minister.

Erdogan instead called early national elections, gambling that his party would increase its majority in parliament and strengthen his hand against the military. The move succeeded, giving the Justice and Development Party nearly 50 percent of the votes cast in the July vote, up from 34 percent in the previous vote.

Many members of Turkey”s military took the vote count as a rebuke of their preelection move against a largely popular and successful democratically elected government. “In Turkey, a new period already has started,” said Nejat Eslen, a retired brigadier general and an ardent supporter of secularism, speaking Tuesday by telephone after Gul”s election. “And I believe the military side will watch carefully and closely.”

The Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002, taking parliament and the prime minister”s office. Since then, Erdogan and his ministers have presented themselves far more as Rotary Club than religious zealots.

Under their guidance, Turkey”s economy has been transformed, turning Istanbul into a bustle of construction projects and high-design restaurants. With Tuesday”s election, Erdogan and Gul pledged to push for economic reform and constitutional amendments and try to win European Union membership.

Many Turks have been won over by the boom times, especially for a growing middle class; improvements in public services; and the ruling party”s comparative restraint in helping itself to the economic spoils. But among secular Turks, there remain widespread concerns that Erdogan”s government has given political Islam a toehold that will lead Turkey the way of much of the Middle East, perhaps starting with lifting Ataturk”s restrictions on the head scarf, outlawing alcohol or criminalizing adultery.

“With a first lady in a head scarf, a taboo is finished in Turkey. Some people are not happy about that,” said Ehmet Ali Birand, a columnist in Turkey”s press, which seized upon the military chief”s warning as a sign of grave tension between the military and the government.

Turkey is a U.S. partner in the NATO alliance, although Turkey”s opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq created bilateral strains. In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Gul”s election “continues the course of democratic development in that country.” President Bush called Gul to congratulate him, the White House said.

The rise of the Justice and Development Party came in the same period as political gains made by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the radical Islamic group Hamas in the Palestinian territories. Hamas”s gains, in particular, are regarded by many analysts in the region as leading the Bush administration to back off from its earlier avowed enthusiasm for promoting democracy in the Middle East.

But Turkey — a country bridging Europe and Asia, as well as Islam and secularism — is different, and the Justice and Development Party doesn”t fit well into the growth of political Islam elsewhere, said Omer Taspinar, a Turkey expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The election success of “Hamas or Muslim Brotherhood is . . . essentially a protest vote” in countries with authoritarian leaders and little viable political opposition, Taspinar said by telephone. “But the reason the [Justice and Development Party] won is largely due to the services they have provided,” he said.

Hard-liners in the military believe that “it is thanks to the military”s efforts that the [party] and political Islam are learning to become moderate,” Taspinar said. “Islam in Turkey is getting closer and closer to the West,” he added, even as “the global trend is that Islam is getting more confrontational with the West.”

Special correspondent Zehra Ayman in Istanbul contributed to this report.