The promise of democracy for Muslims offers something historically unparalleled. But how powerful is the idea of democracy in the Middle East? Could the region actually be at the beginning of a democratic wave, or is a 'democratic recession' under way in Islamic lands? In The Wave, Middle East expert Reuel Marc Gerecht argues that the Middle East may actually be at the beginning of a momentous democratic wave whose convulsions could become the region's defining theme during Obama's presidency. He describes the powerful Middle Eastern democratic movements coming from both the secular left and the religious right and asserts that America must reassess democracy's supposed lack of a future in the region. The author explains the importance of those countries that hold the keys to the success or failure of democracy in the region, most notably Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and the United States. He tells why mainstream Islamist groups today see elections, not revolution, as a means for society to maintain akhlaq: the mores that define good Muslims. And he shows why any legitimate form of government in the contemporary Arab Middle East must be seen to be complementary to the Prophet Muhammad's legacy and the Holy Law. If democracy is to succeed in Arab lands, he concludes, it will be because devout Arabs have decided that their faith and representative government can meld.
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former director of the Project for the New American Century's Middle East Initiative and a former resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Gerecht also served as a Middle East specialist in the Clandestine Service at the Central Intelligence Agency.