Islamists and the democratization of the Middle East

Olivier Roy notes that there was no visible Islamist dimension to the uprising in Tunisia.

Instead, the protesters were calling for freedom, democracy and multi-party elections. Put more simply, they just wanted to get rid of the kleptocratic ruling family.

At the end, when the real “Islamist” leaders returned from exile in the West (yes they were in the West, not in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia), they, like Rached Ghannouchi, spoke of elections, coalition government and stability, all the while keeping a low profile.

Have the Islamists disappeared?

No. But in North Africa, at least, most of them have become democrats. True, fringe groups have followed the path of a nomadic global jihad and are roaming the Sahel in search of hostages, but they have no real support in the population. That is why they went to the desert.

Nevertheless, these highway robbers are still branded as a strategic threat by Western governments at a loss to design a long-term policy. Other Islamists have just given up politics and closed their door, pursuing a pious, conservative, but apolitical way of life. They put a burqa on their lives as well as on their wives.

But the bulk of the former Islamists have come to the same conclusion of the generation that founded the Justice and Development Party in Turkey: There is no third way between democracy and dictatorship. There is just dictatorship and democracy.

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One thought on “Islamists and the democratization of the Middle East

  1. Frigga Karl

    I do not see any real democracy in the west. As the great Pierre Bourdieu says:
    there is no real democracy without a real critical counter power. Where do you have this in the west? In the US the FBI is chasing the anti war movement! The ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East is a colonial racist and barbarous power supported by the only State in war with everybody. I would very much like to see Hilary Clinton and many others roaming the Sahel. We really should declare the war against the real terrorists who roam in the White House and in the Knesset. I asked myself why Hilary Clinton, I think because she is a woman and a shame for a woman who loves war! Let’s not forget that the so called islamists have been created by the western powers as Hamas by Israel to weaken the PLO and Arafat. I think that Bin Laden is a pure creation by the CIA and its close ally the Mossad. Saddam really existed and we witnessed his abominable execution

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