"Of course, Islam is undemocratic in spirit, but so was every other premodern religion ... with enough effort and time, Muslims can be as democratic as Westerners."Not "difficult"--impossible. And if Islam does "change" such that it becomes compatible with democracy, it will no longer be Islam.
When does Mr. Pipe's "theoretical optimism" become naivete? Modern democracy developed within the context of Christianity, somewhat simplified, for two reasons. First, Christ made a clear distinction between the matters of God and those of Caesar, thus allowing a secular society with the citizen rather than God at the centre. Second, Christian morality and theology from the beginning mandated that everybody, whether Christian or not, is a brother or sister.
Muhammad, to the contrary, amalgamated mosque and state and insisted that only other Muslims be considered brethren. Islam also does not share our notion of freedom. There is, for example, no sexual freedom and no freedom to apostatize
In Christianity, religion is a matter of individual conscience, whereas in Islam, religion is uniform and requires complete submission to God, with no need for a parliament.
It is difficult to see how a religion may become compatible with democracy without the principles of democracy: Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite.
Heinz Klatt, London, Ont.
Bottom line: Muslims can and do change (becoming more secular and less observant). Islam can't--and won't--change in any substantive way (and time and time again, whenever Muslims try to "modernize" the faith, the by-the-book types rise up and drag it back to the "purity" of its Medieval origins).