Indonesia, Not Iran, Holds Lessons for Egypt
Note: The following is excerpted from an Op-Ed published on CNN.com today by Asia Society Associate Fellow Ann Marie Murphy.
Since Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned in the face of widespread demonstrations, attention has shifted to what comes next.
Fears have been raised that Egypt's transition may follow the Iranian path, where the Shah's overthrow led to a repressive Islamic regime that turned away from the West and became a source of regional instability.
Indonesia provides a better analogy for Egypt than Iran. Over the past decade Indonesia, home of the world's largest community of Muslims, has made a successful transition to democracy that clearly refutes the proposition that Islam and democracy are incompatible.
Those who invoke the Iranian model for Egypt fear that by providing an opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to contest elections, democracy will create a theocracy.
But whether democracy empowers radicals—religious or secular—or tames them depends on a whole host of factors.
Asia Society Associate Fellow Ann Marie Murphy is an associate professor at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University.