We don’t think so. We don’t think they can be democratic as long as they remain – not “Islamist” but – Islamic.
Why? Because Islam and democracy, Islam and liberty, are essentially incompatible. Islam and Western civilization are totally antithetical to each other.
Islam is a dogmatism that forbids doubt – and doubt is the very DNA of our civilization. Doubt alone guarantees the tolerance which makes democracy possible. Doubt starts scientific enquiry, demands experiment and exploration.
Islam cannot be “reformed” to become its opposite.
I would say this is true. But before we get too smug, let’s recall that it was only quite recently in history that Christian lands became truly free. Further, a Christian theocracy, should one ever arise, would be just as backward and totalitarian as an Islamic theocracy.
We in the West have had only a few hundred years of actual freedom. So-called Christian heretics were burned at the stake in England as late as 1697, just a little over three centuries past. We’ve improved, of course. We’ve had, in the briefest of terms, both a Martin Luther and a Thomas Jefferson: a Reformation, and an Enlightenment. Both essential for liberty as we know it today.
Neither of these appears to be on the Islamic horizon; if anything, they’ve slipped ever backwards towards those glory days of the Prophet’s original expansion at the edge of the sword.
Alternately, one may argue that we in the Anglosphere are blessed, that English as a native language somehow makes us more likely to savor liberty (e.g. the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) than those in the Arab world. This remains, in the words of the old Scottish verdict, not proven.
All we can say is that, so far in history, we who speak English as our native tongue are free; those who speak Arabic are not. So far. I believe that a Christian theocracy, notwithstanding the infants on the Left who think that Pat Robertson (or any other preacher) is dictator for life because he exercises his right to free speech, is not possible in the Anglsosphere.
The Arab world can not be free until they break the shackles of Islam that keep them mired as a people using 21st century technology with a 7th century mindset.