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Constitutional Monarchy in the Muslim World
Of the seven oldest continuing democracies in the world, five are constitutional monarchies, four of which have Queen Elizabeth II as their sovereign.
This is testimony to the fact that constitutional monarchy under the Westminster system is the only constitutional model which has been imported by other countries and which has operated successfully for any extended period of time.
This is not limited to the Christian world, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Reformed. Constitutional Monarchy has worked very well in Arab and other Muslim countries.
...more freedom, peaceful transitions of power....
In these countries there has been more freedom of speech, with governments changing in elections or on the floor of parliament. Minorities have been better protected. The Copts in Egypt are a case in point. They were best protected under the British occupation and then the constitutional monarchy. It was only after the installation of a republic that the persecution recommences, along with restricted rights and a dictatorship.
It would be unrealistic to expect that a monarchy in a developing country be as little involved in the direction of the government as in say, Canada. But even where the monarch actually governed as in say Iran, few would doubt that the position then was vastly superior to what is happening now.
A marvellous feature of monarchy is how it evolves, and evolves in a democratic direction, as we see today in Morocco.
Had the Shah survived (and the French and American governments of the day must bear a great part of the blame), it is likely that under his son Iran would today be a happier, freer and less threatening power.
Malaysia's new king, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, 84, was king previously in the 1970s. He has just became the first person to hold the position twice. He was enthroned on 11 April 2012 in a lavish ceremony steeped in centuries-old royal traditions.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected monarch as head of state. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected by the Conference of Rulers, a body which traces its origons back to British rule.
Her Imperial Highness The Princess Fatma Neslişah, Imperial Princess of the Ottoman Empire and Princess of Egypt, Osmanoğlu Sultan was born in Istanbul at the Nişantaşı Palace, overlooking the Bosphorus on 4 February 1921. She grew up in Nice, in France, after the Ottoman Family was exiled when she was 3 years old.
The Princess married Egyptian Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim in 1940. The eldest member of the Ottoman royal family, she died in the former Ottoman capital, Istanbul, on 2 April 2012. She was 91.
In this essay,Lorenzo Montesini* recalls his encounters with the Princess.
In the magical Haroun El Rachid city of Istanboul, or to the sticklers Constantinople, around the Bosphoros, past Dolmabache palace, that kilometer long white palace, past Berlebey palace and the Ciragan which is now a very posh hotel, where account executives from the West can pretend, for a very high fee to be guests of the Sultans, along the water past all that at a rise on the hill in a tree filled compound in a konak or grand 40s residence of white, lies the last remains of Neslishah Sultan.
I had a message this morning from a friend telling me of her demise, in her 90s, with that halo of white hair, tall, regal every inch the grandaughter of the last Sultan and Caliph of the Muslim universe, at her birth in 1921 she was the last to be honored with a 51 gun salute and the last to be inscribed in the Sultanate Golden Book. (Continued below)
As the results of the Moroccan election on 24 November 2011 come in, it is interesting to go back to a program in the series Inside Story, broadcast on the international news service, Al Jazeera, on 19 June 2011 which considered whether the Moroccan people were "buying" the changes promised by King Mohammed VI as part of a "historic transition" into democracy.
Since then the King put the changes to the constitution to the people in a referendum which was approved in July and now he is called a general election which international observers have assessed as fair.
It seems that a moderate Islamist party has won, and the King will call the leader to form a government. The experience in Morocco and in Jordan demonstrates the value of constitutional monarchy over politicians’ republics.
The Arab experience of course is confirmed by what happened in earlier years in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt and earlier Syria where monarchies were overthrown and replaced by republics which have become increasingly undemocratic and brutal in their treatment.
Moroccan election officials are counting votes after Friday's first parliamentary election since King Mohammed VI introduced constitutional reforms approved in a referendum on 1 July, reports the Al Jazeera news service (26/11).
In the meantime the news agency was reporting violent demonstrations against the rulers in several Arab countries including Egypt and Syria. Morocco is clearly one of the more democratic among Arab and middle eastern countries.
Morocco was a constitutional monarchy under King Mohammed V who fought for and obtained independence from France in 1956, and then negotiating the dissolution of both the northern Spanish protectorate and the international zone of Tangier. (Tangier was English from 1661 to 1684, being part of the dowry of Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza on her marriage to King Charles II)
King Moahmmed V's son Hassan II was more authoritarian, especially after two assassination attempts, one organised by the Defence Minister General Ouffkir. But in the latter part of his reign he moved more towards democracy.
His son King Mohammed VI is reform oriented and favours a constitutional monarchy not dissimilar to those which existed in Egypt and Iraq before the army imposed republics on the people. it would allows more poer to the King thanin, say, Australia and is thus more like our ealier constitutional monarchy during the reign of William II and Mary II.
In Friday’s election around 45 per cent of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots. (As in most democracies , voting is not compulsory.)
International observers have described the turnout as "satisfying" in comparison with 2007, when only 37 per cent of eligible voters went to polls.
Italian observer Matteo Mecacci told journalists there was "no indication" of fraud. About 4,000 national and international observers were present to ensure transparency.