Amaney Jamal: Interpreter of Islam and Democracy
Amaney Jamal, a Carnegie Scholar who is a political science professor at Princeton University, is one of the foremost experts on Islam and democracy in the Arab World. Her work, which has been widely cited in the past several weeks, has examined the ‘conundrum of democratization’ in the Arab world, wherein popular support for democracy is very high but, until recently, democratic movements were few and far between.
Dr. Jamal’s work, including Reassessing Support for Islam and Democracy in the Arab World?: Evidence from Egypt and Jordan is especially useful for policymakers as it seeks to understand how ordinary citizens in the Middle East make sense of their own political environment. The majority of scholars have, instead, analyzed the relationship between democracy and Islam by focusing on the institutions of the state, democratic processes such as voting, or the more abstract concepts of rule of law.
In most Western discourses, says Dr. Jamal, support for religious rule and democracy are often assumed to be diametrically opposed categories. She counters the notion that secularism, implying the separation of church and state, is a discourse that the Muslim world appears to have rejected.