Academic specialists of Islam overwhelmingly agree on two points: that Islamism (or fundamentalist Islam) can be divided into "moderate" and "extremist" elements; and that the former can prevail over the latter, ideally forming Islamo-Democratic parties along the lines of the Christian-Democratic parties found throughout Europe. In this spirit, the "Islamist dilemma" of the title refers to the challenges of Islamism's moving away from violence and toward political participation.
The editor suggests a solution to the dilemma with which all the contributors would largely concur: integrating the Islamists "in a truly pluralistic context which defines the rules and limits of political competition." To critics who would say that this approach has been tried in such countries as Algeria, Egypt, and the Sudan, she replies that "this strategy has in fact never been fully and consistently tried." In the same spirit, Michael C. Hudson calls for "full inclusion" of Islamists in the political process while Shireen T. Hunter declares that Islamists in power "would have little choice but to come to terms with the West."
To all this delusion, the nonspecialist can only shake his head in wonder. As in the case of prior radical utopian movements of the twentieth century, the specialists are trying to convince us that this one can be successfully accommodated and co-opted, but never confronted. But, pray tell, how exactly were the fascist and communist menaces beaten? Why should it be different this time?