The on going controversy in Afghanistan over the fate of an ex-Muslim who converted to Christianity, and has since been charged with apostasy in Afghani court where they were seeking the death penalty under Islamic law, and where the man is still in mortal danger, highlights the fact that democracy itself has nothing to do with human rights.
Since this case has made international news, President Bush and other administration officials have called on Afghani leaders to “follow democratic principles”, but that is exactly what they are doing. All that democracy means is “majority rule”.
Democracy in no way guarantees human rights or even protects human rights at all, and this is one of the major problems with the so-called “Bush Doctrine”, or really the neo-con doctrine, of pushing for democracy in the Middle East.
The neo-cons act as though “democracy” = “human rights”, but his is not the case. Democracy only means that the majority opinion holds power, and if the majority opinion in a country is that people should be killed for leaving Islam then following democratic principles is going to contradict Western ideas of “human rights”.
Of course all of this presupposes that the neo-cons actually even care about democracy at all, which is doubtful, as it is more likely that the whole democracy rhetoric is just a front for the real objective of material conquest and continued exploitation of foreign lands to extract resources, which of course is going horribly wrong because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing much more than the neo-cons had predicted.
But putting that aside, the belief that “democracy” has something to do with human rights, and that spreading democracy is going to spread human rights, reveals a gross misunderstanding of Western history.
Democracy is not what brought human rights to Western Civilization, Secularism and Humanism did. Democracy was only the vehicle by which secularism and humanism were brought to power.
Democracy resulted in an increase in human rights in Western Civilization not because of some defacto power of democracy to improve living conditions, but because there was a growing movement for secularism and humanism in Western society at the time that was being kept down by theocratic tyranny.
So, when the majority voice was able to come to power, it brought secularism and humanism to power with it. In the Middle East, however, the majority voice is not secular or humanist, instead it is theocratic and fundamentalist, so democracy in the Middle East is not going to yield a peaceful tolerant society, it is going to yield a militant, mobish , theocracy.
Freedom of conscience is not a democratic principle, there is no such thing as a democratic principle, other than “majority rules”. The majority is not always right and the majority is not always good and the majority is not always nice and the majority is not always tolerant, in fact, the majority is often not tolerant.
The reason that the policy of the Bush administration is failing and will continue to fail, is that the policy of the Bush administration, if it even is what it claims to be, only advocates democracy, yet democracy is not what produced the freedom that we have in Western society, secularism and humanism did. Without promoting secularism and humanism, democracy is useless.