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Islamists in the Arab World: The Dance Around Democracy

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Are Islam and democracy compatible? And are Islamists willing to accept a democratic order and work within it? Debate has swirled around these two grand questions for decades and has produced a broad variety of responses, often quite polarized. Whatever we may think about Islamists, the topic matters vitally because in the Middle East today they have few serious ideological rivals in leading opposition movements against a failing status quo. This paper argues that democracy and political Islam are potentially quite compatible in principle, and the record indicates as much.