While most Middle Eastern and North African countries have majority mainstream (Sunni) Muslim populations, virtually none of these countries implement the shariah according to the mainstream interpretation. Many of these countries are ruled by despotic dictatorships and monarchies that base their legal systems on a perversion of the shariah blended with bizarre and primitive cultural practices, as the corrupt regimes see fit. They do not represent the will and views of the masses within their respective countries.
Western colonialism left a very bitter after taste when it relinquished some control of many of these nations. The Western populations started to enjoy internal democratic reforms, while their governments and corporates continued a policy of raping the third world for resources and wealth, including propping up corrupt regimes to protect their own interests, at the expense of the masses.
However, this bitter after taste is quickly being replaced by the sweetness of revolution and freedom sweeping across some of the regions that have ex-Europian colonies and/or cronies. And as these regimes accelerate towards their own decay and demise, so too do their oppressive "shariahs". This understanding is well known amongst Muslims globally, but media sensationalisation, Hollywood and Islamophobes have prevented this truth from manifesting to many non-Muslims in any significant way. But this public misconception that assumes that the despotic regimes are icons of the Islamic model has started to fade even before the present uprisings started. We have the increasing prevalence of unbiased education and the globalisation of information to thank for that.
That being said, Muslim leaders and scholars are duty-bound by Islam to do still more for the plight of women and other disenfranchised groups.
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