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Letter: Islamic perspectives

Sir: Algeria is only an extreme case of the troubles caused by the Western policy of preferring dictatorships to democratically elected Islamic governments. For the sake of world peace, sooner or later countries with Muslim majorities must be allowed to choose their rulers freely.

There is no reason for an Islamically inspired government to be xenophobic like that of Iran, nor medieval like that of Afghanistan. Islam is a great and varied civilisation, with many precedents on which to draw. There are eight major versions of Sharia law, each of them including many enlightened rulings. There is even a basis for democracy, for the Kharijites were advocating universal suffrage soon after the death of the Prophet and long before the idea resurfaced in Europe.