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Islam and democracy can – and do – coexist

Just look at successes in Indonesia and Turkey.

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Over the years American presidents have preached the power of freedom to the un-free nations of the world.

In recent times, the focus has been on the Arab world, where democratic progress has been scant. President George W. Bush's efforts – from candid speeches to Arab leaders to a costly war in Iraq – have yielded mixed results.

President Obama is pursuing a different course, using a blend of personal charm abroad and efforts at home to burnish America's image as a democratic example.

Throughout all this, skeptics have argued that this is a lost cause, and that democracy and Islam are incompatible.

So it is heartening to see the integration of democracy and Islam taking place in three huge countries whose Muslim populations make up somewhere between a quarter and a third of the world's entire Muslim populace.

Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population (205 million), is undergoing national elections that will strengthen its steady democratic progress. India, which has a minority population of some 150 million Muslims, is finishing up month-long elections for a nation of more than 1 billion people. Turkey, with a Muslim population of 77 million, is a working example of a secular democracy in a Muslim country.

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