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Re-thinking Middle Eastern democracy : lessons from ancient Mesopotamia
conference contributionposted on 01.01.2006, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan
The issue of Middle Eastern democracy has long inspired lively academic debate and research from across the ideological and political spectrum. Despite their differences, much of this work measures the successes and failures of Middle Eastern democracy against the Western model, with its antecedents in the political machinations found in Athens during the 5th century B.C. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that the history of democracy began on the other side of the Occidental/Oriental line and can be traced as far back as the early Mesopotamian myths of Enuma Elish, through to the grand empires of the Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians and Phoenicians. In the interest of fostering a liberal, democratic and egalitarian Middle East, this paper concludes by suggesting that one strategy for re-thinking the Middle East’s democratisation is to engage the powerful discourses of the Middle East’s ancient, and democratic, past.