Islamist Parties and Democracy: A Boon or a Bane for Democracy?

Issue Date July 2008
Volume 19
Issue 3
Page Numbers 49-54
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What role do mainstream Islamist movements play in Arab politics? With their popular messages and broad social base, would their incorporation as normal political actors be the best hope for democratization or democracy’s bane? For too long, we have tried to answer such questions solely by speculating about the true intentions of the movements and their leaders. Islamists in the Arab world are increasingly asked about their true intentions. To hear them tell it, leaders of Islamist movements in the Arab world are democrats without democracy: they are firmly committed to the outcome of clean and fair electoral processes. It is rulers and regimes that should be pressed on their democratic commitments, not their oppositions.