Speaker: Martin Cottingham
On Thursday 7th November the Politics Society was pleased to host Martin Cottingham, Head of Communications at Islamic Relief UK.
The invitation was extended to provide a fresh perspective on the question as to whether Islam and Democracy are fundamentally incompatible. Having travelled extensively in Muslim countries and with a job whose remit is to raise funds and awareness to the true nature of Islam, Martin was well qualified to speak to the Society.
He provided an informative and accessible presentation with the revelation of some startling facts. For example, there are 51 majority Muslim countries in the world and only 14 of those are considered democratic. However he went on to state that there are only four Muslim countries in the world which could definitely be categorised as democracies those being Indonesia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Northern Cyprus.
He argued that fusing religion and the state, as Islam does in most cases, is not necessarily an impediment to democracy. Historically, he said, Islam embraced consultation (Shura) and Ijma (consensus) both democratic principles, in its teachings for a balanced society. However, in his concluding remarks he conceded that with the recent failures to implement democracy in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, the prospects for reconciling democracy with Islamic societies in the Middle East were not good.