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Islam and Democratization in Asia By Shiping Hua

Chapter Introduction:  Introduction
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Islam and Democratization in Asia


Shiping Hua

More than a century ago, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville remarked that Islam was not compatible with democracy and therefore, the conflicts between Islamic nations and the West were inevitable. 1 This viewpoint was certainly not shared by all. 2 The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City intensified the debate. With the rapid economic developments in Asia in recent decades, another important topic of debate has increasingly attracted people's attention: the compatibility of the so-called “Asian values” with democratic ideals. 3 The debate has become even more intense with the combination of Islamic and Asian values vis-à-vis democratization. Asia contains the most populous Islamic country in the world: Indonesia. Is Islam compatible with democratization in the context of Asian cultures?

To address these important issues, a series of books have been published. Most of them deal with the relationship between Islam, Muslims, and democratization within a subregion in Asia, such as Islam and democracy in Central Asia, 4 Islam and Muslims in South Asia, 5 and Islam and democracy