The wide extent of triumphant political Islamism provides important clues as to this movement’s real meaning and impetus – at least for those who wish to see the real world, rather than imagine a more exotic and menacing world out there. Islamists of various hues and shades have won big, or have become significant opposition forces, in virtually every place they have competed politically in the past few years, whether at the municipal or national levels, in Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq and Lebanon, to mention only the most notable.
This wave of victories is not due to a longing for virgins in the afterlife or the consequence of poor primary education. It is the consequence of a modern history combining the cumulative pain of poor, often corrupt and brutal, governance, with foreign military occupations and threats (mostly from Israel, the U.S. and Britain recently). Most ordinary people consequently feel they have been denied their cultural identity, political rights, national sovereignty, personal freedoms and basic human dignity.