In This Review

Rules and Rights in the Middle East: Democracy, Law, and Society
Rules and Rights in the Middle East: Democracy, Law, and Society
Edited by Ellis Goldberg, Resat Kasaba, and Joel S. Migdal
University of Washington Press, 1993, 280 pp
Purchase

Democracy and the Middle East are often thought to be like oil and water: they just do not seem to mix. But that dismissive notion has always been partially off the mark, and these days there is more indigenous debate about democracy in the region than ever before. What was once seen as a colonial import is now being discussed as a possible remedy for some of the ills of the region. This collection of first-rate essays looks carefully at the circumstances of several Middle Eastern countries, including Turkey, Israel, Syria and the Maghreb countries, as well as ideas of the state in classical Islamic theory to offer some insights into the question of where and whether democracy may take root in the region. One theme that stands out is that nothing in Islam per se is incompatible with the idea of limiting the sphere of influence of the state. Thus, one of the building blocks of democracy is sanctioned by classical Islamic political theory, if not always reflected in recent practice.