What are the reasons for the decline and how should they be addressed? This question has continued to dictate the general political subjectivity of the Ottoman and Muslim elites since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly since the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 and the origins of what came to be known as the “Eastern Question”.
The nascent Europe of that period appeared to be imposing new challenges on the Ottoman Empire and the whole of the Muslim world. Was the empire doomed to what Ibn Khaldun described as an inexorable decline of the South Mediterranean region two centuries earlier or could it aspire to adopt a new proactive spirit or reverse the tide of history?
Would it be anachronistic to consider the possible meaning of “democracy” in what may be described as a “neo-Khaldunian” debate?
Admittedly, this question was not formally raised as one of the main terms of the debate until the nineteenth century and the Liberal Age.
The aim of this text is to examine the methods of legitimising and delegitimising democracy at work in this geography of representation and in successive reorganisations.
This paper is written by Mohamed Beddy Ebnou, head of the Institute for Epistemological Studies Europe (IESE) in Brussels.
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