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Three Kinds of Movements
Abstract

Abstract:

This conventional categorization of Islamist groups as “moderate” or “radical” is unhelpful in understanding what the existence of such groups means for democratic politics throughout the Arab world. The author proposes a three-part typology for classifying Islamists, one that sheds light on how these diverse groups approach democratic politics. The first category comprises the takfiris, groups such as al-Qaeda that embrace the use of violence in pursuit of their objectives and reject democracy as a denial of God’s sovereignty; the second includes militant and nationalist Islamist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas that are willing to use violence but maintain involvement in the formal political process; the third, and the most relevant for the democratic politics, are those groups that reject violence and revolution as a means to achieve their goals. Time will reveal which Islamist groups can evolve into constructive players in a pluralist political arena and which cannot.