Are Islamists on the Rise?

Hussein Ibish takes issue with my taking issue of his assertion that Islamists are not necessarily on the rise across the Arab world (this discussion began with this Bloomberg View column). Here is Hussein:

I cannot share the conclusion of Goldberg and many others that these elections, and less still the overall trajectory of the Arab uprisings, suggests that the Arab people want "the path of Islam," whatever that might be, precisely. Let's begin with Egypt. Islamist parties did exceptionally well in the elections, but benefited enormously from a number of contingent factors: the bizarre Egyptian electoral law heavily favored them in a number of complex ways; the liberal opposition was divided and disorganized and barely campaigned at all; much of the liberals' energy was devoted to protests in the week leading up to the election; both the protests and the Army's violent response to them made the Muslim Brotherhood look, to many eyes, like the most responsible people in the country because they did not participate in the protests (officially), but strongly condemned the deadly crackdown, thereby offending almost no important constituency.

While Hussein, as ever, provides thoughtful and nuanced analysis, I have to -- at the risk of appearing overly reductionist analytically -- continue to make the obvious point that Arabs are voting, with eyes wide open, for Islamist parties. When they stop voting for Islamist parties, I'll revisit my preliminary conclusion that Islamism is on the rise.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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