This has great import for the entire world. Note that the Arab Springis the biggest defeat for organisations like Al Qaeda. This ideological defeat refutes the notion that real change in this region can only come about through organised violence. Remember: one of Al Qaeda's primary aims has been to force regime change in Arab lands. Second, the issue is what form this political Islam will take - given that parties emerging from this background have gained in places like Tunisia and Egypt. To understand that, one must examine the phenomenon of political Islam itself.
This politics grew in a region where dissent and opposition was crushed, with active collaboration of Western regimes. The retreat of socialist-Left forces was attendant on the strengthening of Islamist groups and parties - given also the simple fact of their organising around religious spaces. Political Islam is a complex phenomenon, spanning the social roots of, say, the Muslim Brotherhood to the paramilitary nature of the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Today, when it emerges in democratic forms, the internal debate on defining democracy, individual freedom and civil society is inflected and enriched by engagements with other parties and forces as well as with the wider world.
There is certainly a danger of hardliners prevailing, but it will not help the democratic world to be inherently suspicious of such parties. Democratic processes and institutions must evolve in the region and, to aid that, the world must engage with political Islam.
Source: The Economy Times