For decades, Arab regimes have used scare tactics to encourage the United States and Europe to support their repressive measures toward Islamist movements by invoking the image of anti-Western fanatics taking power through the ballot box. However, today’s moderate Islamists no longer match this nightmare. Political actors or observers who still insist that there is no such thing as a “moderate Islamist” miss the reality that activist organizations in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Yemen have evolved after decades of failed opposition to repressive regimes. Instead of clinging to fantasies of theocratic states, many Islamist movements now see the wisdom of competing peacefully for shares of political power and working within existing institutions to promote gradual democratic openings.
To advance significant political reform in the Arab world, the United States and Europe need to engage moderate Islamists, argues Carnegie Endowment senior associate Amr Hamzawy in this new Policy Brief. This is less thorny than it might seem, as many Islamists groups and parties have embraced democratic procedures and shown a strong commitment to the rule of law.
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About the Author
Amr Hamzawy is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment. He is also an Egyptian political scientist who previously taught at Cairo University and the Free University of Berlin.
The Carnegie Democracy and Rule of Law Program rigorously examines the global state of democracy and the rule of law and international efforts to support their advance.
The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.
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