German FM: give Arab Islamic parties a chance

Tunisian's Foreign Affairs Minister Rafik Abdessalem (R) shakes hands with German counterpart Guido Westerwelle. (Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi)

By AP first published on ARAB NEWS

BERLIN: Germany’s foreign minister says the West must avoid the mistake of assuming that Islamic-oriented parties aren’t compatible with freedom and modernization as it encourages democracy in the Arab world.

Recent ballots saw heavy votes in favor of Islamic movements in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.

Germany’s Guido Westerwelle wrote in an article in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Friday that “political Islam is not the same as radical Islamism” and “we must learn to look carefully and differentiate.”

Westerwelle argues for dialogue on the relationship between the state and society, politics and religion with moderate forces such as the winners in Tunisia and Morocco.

He writes: “I am convinced that the combination of Islamic orientation and democratic attitude, of Islam and democracy, is possible.”

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