Are Islamists on the Rise?

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/are-islamists-on-the-rise/250908/