Al Qaeda's war against voters

Amir Taheri:

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Whoever killed Benazir belonged to one of the nebulae of organisations that have vowed to kill not only those who stand for election but also those who vote. Their slogan is: “From box to box!” This means that, by slipping one's vote into a ballot box, one risks ending up in a coffin.

To people in the West voting in an election might appear banal. In the Muslim world, where the fight today is between democracy and terror, it could be a matter of life and death. Over the past decade, thousands of people, from top politicians to ordinary voters, have been murdered by Islamists in Muslim countries that have held reasonably free elections (Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia). Islamist opposition to democracy is based on the claim that allowing men to legislate would be a form of sherk, that is to say associating Man with God, who is the “sole and ultimate legislator”. Man-made law cannot rival God-made Shariah.

Referring to Islam's history, in which the murder of leaders, including three of the first four caliphs, was the surest way of coming to power, the Islamists hope that by assassinating senior politicians they would kill hopes of democracy in the Muslim world.

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Bhutto knew she was risking her life, but reminded everyone that her father, too, “gave his life for democracy in Pakistan”. Despite her education at Oxford and Harvard, she shared the Muslim belief that one's fate is written in advance. If it was her kismet to die this year, there was no point in defying fate. In that sense, the al-Qaeda leaders who take extra care not to risk their lives seem less typically Islamic than Benazir.

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“Only the fresh air of democracy can kill the monster [of Islamism],” she liked to say. “When the people are allowed to speak, they will not speak in support of terror.” In that spirit she rejected a call by the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to boycott the elections. What is important now is to fulfil Benazir's wish and make sure that the elections take place.

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It is important that the election go forward as scheduled. As I have said before, every vote cast will be a vote against al Qaeda and the Islamist religious bigots who want to rule the world.

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