Islam and democracy not incompatible: France's Juppe
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe argued on Thursday that Islam and democracy are not incompatible, insisting that the Arab Spring, which has already toppled three dictators, should open the way to political pluralism.
"I refuse to accept the idea that Islam and democracy are incompatible and that the Arab people only have a choice between dictatorship and fundamentalism," Juppe told hundreds of students at the University of Tripoli. "It has been our desire to establish contacts and dialogue with all the actors of the Arab Spring, without exception, on the condition that they respect the rules of the democratic game, principal among which are the renunciation of violence, the rights of men and women, and respect for minorities.
"We cannot refuse to people who have been so long condemned to silence the right to express their choices.
In Tunisia, the first Arab country to overthrow its dictatorship, the Islamist Ennahda party came out on top in October parliamentary elections. Islamists are also taking the lead in polls now underway in Egypt and gaining prominence in Libya.
On Wednesday, during a press conference with Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib, Juppe declared that it was up to the Libyan people to "build democracy as they see fit" following the overthrow of strongman Moamer Kadhafi.
© 2011 AFP