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Clinton espouses democratic tenets for Arab Spring governments

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that the U.S. would judge newly empowered Islamist parties in the Arab world by their deeds rather than their names.

In her morning statement before the U.N. Security Council, Mrs. Clinton said it is vital for governments that have resulted from the Arab Spring "to safeguard the basic principles of democracy and universal human rights."

"Today, there are those who question whether Islamist politics can really be compatible with these democratic principles," she said. "The people of Egypt and Tunisia, and other countries driving towards elections of their own, have a chance to answer that question."

In Egypt's recent parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood and the more hard-line Nour Party took roughly two-thirds of the vote.

In Tunisia, the moderate Islamist "Ennahda" party won a plurality in October's election and formed a coalition government with liberal parties.

"Our policy is to focus less on what these parties call themselves than on what they choose to do," Mrs. Clinton said.

"All political parties — religious and secular alike — have a responsibility to their people to abide by the basic tenets upon which this body is founded: reject violence; uphold the rule of law; respect the freedoms of speech, association, and assembly; safeguard religious freedom and tolerance; protect the rights of women and minorities; give up power if defeated at the polls; and avoid inciting conflicts that pull societies apart.

"These are standards against which we are all measured, and which we need to commit to uphold together," she said.

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