The Transformation of the Arab World

In this article, Oliver Roy argues that in order to grasp what is happening in the Middle East, a number of deep-rooted prejudices must be set aside. First among them is the assumption that democracy presupposes secularization; the democratization movement in the Arab world came precisely after thirty years of what has been called the “return of the sacred,” an obvious process of re-Islamization of everyday life, coupled with the rise of Islamist parties. The second is the idea that a democrat must also, by definition, be a liberal. The article concludes that what is at stake during the Arab Spring is the reformulation of religion’s place in the Middle East’s public sphere.