User login

Join The Debate

Cast your vote and join the conversation.

Membership is free.

Get Started

You are here


Better Elected Islamists Than Dictators

Back To Debate
Download Transcript
Live Transcript
  • Where Have Islamists Leaders Improved?

    Clip: Debaters argue the motion "Better Elected Islamists than Dictators."

  • Islamist Leaders Must Be Able to Organically Evolve

    Clip: Debaters argue the motion "Better Elected Islamists than Dictators."

Debate Details

The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring have left a leadership void that Islamist parties have been quick to fill.  A longtime supporter of former strongmen like Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, the U.S. now faces the uncomfortable result of Arab democracy—the rise of Islamist parties that are less amenable to the West than their autocratic predecessors.  Will the Islamists, who once embraced violence, slowly liberalize as they face the difficulties of state leadership? Or will it mean the growth of anti-Americanism and radicalization in the region? 

The Debaters

For the motion

Reuel Marc Gerecht

Reuel Marc Gerecht

Senior Fellow, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies & Fmr. CIA Case Officer

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a former case officer for the CIA, where he served as a Middle Eastern targets officer with the CIA's directorate of operations... Read More

Brian Katulis

Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress

Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at American Progress, where his work focuses on U.S. national security policy in the Middle East and South Asia.... Read More

Against the motion

Daniel Pipes

President, Middle East Forum

Daniel Pipes is one of the world’s foremost analysts on the Middle East and Islam. Pipes is President of the Middle East Forum, a nonprofit organization... Read More

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., is the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A devout Muslim, Dr. Jasser founded AIFD in... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Democracy will have a liberalizing effect on the Islamists as they are held accountable for governance, not just religious ideology.
  • The fundamentalists are critical to the moral and political rejuvenation of their countries, and are therefore key to democratic politics in the region.
  • Representative government empowers citizens, especially religious minorities and women.
Against The Motion
  • Choosing between the lesser of two evils, U.S.-friendly authoritarian regimes are less of a threat than anti-American Islamists.
  • The Islamists' openly promise to reform society through Sharia, Islamic law, a concern for liberals, non-Muslims and women.
  • Elected Islamists are dictators at the end of the day.
  • They use the tools of democracy, but without separation of church and state you cannot have a true democracy.

This vote is intended to capture your opinions before hearing tonight’s debate.

Cast Your Vote

This vote is intended to capture your opinions after hearing tonight’s debate.

Cast Your Vote

Before you cast your vote, share some information with us:

{{ errors.first('email') }}

{{ errors.first('first name') }}

{{ errors.first('last name') }}

Are you sure?

{{ currentQuestion }} of {{ questions.length }}

Are you sure?

Are you sure?

{{ currentQuestion }} of {{ questions.length }}

Are you sure?

Review your answers below:

: {{ preVote[i] }}

Review your answers below:

: {{ postVote[i] }}

Please enjoy the debate and come back afterwards to cast your Post-Debate vote

Tell Us More

Before you cast your final vote, please tell us how you watched the debate

I listened to the podcast or read the transcript.
I watched it online.
I attended the debate live.
I haven't seen it yet.

Tell us why you changed your mind:

For the Motion Against the Motion Undecided
For the Motion Against the Motion Undecided

: {{ preVote[i] }}

: {{ postVote[i] }}

Donate to IQ2US

Thank you for joining us! Enter your email address below to receive the post-debate analysis and debate updates from IQ2US.

Learn About Voting
IQ2US debates are designed to expose audiences to civilized debate featuring opposing points of view. Please vote with your most genuine opinion.


  • Live Audience
  • Online Audience
  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

Issue Guide: One Year of 'Arab Spring' Upheavals

Jonathan Masters and Aimee Rawlins
December 12, 2011

Analysis and essential background on the central issues facing the Middle East one year after the uprisings began.

Egypt Elections: Sharia Can Support Democracy

Mahmood Delkhasteh and Hassan Rezaei
May 23, 2012

In Egypt elections for president today, the role of Islam in government is a big question. But a freedom-based interpretation of sharia can support democracy in the Arab world. Such a form of sharia in the early stages of the Iran Revolution set a precedent – before it was snuffed out.

Islamists, Dictators, and Bad Choices

Abraham H. Miller
December 11, 2011

The Obama administration has jettisoned Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, a compliant dictator who represented our interests, in favor of the chimera of a popular democratic movement that, like the one in Iran in 1979, has proved to be merely a stepping-stone to the rise of the fundamentalists.

Please choose what best describes why this comment is being flagged:

The Discussion

or and Join the Conversation
Load More Comments