By Barry Rubin
And that's all in addition to having the advantage of appealing to a very powerful, deep-seated religious belief held by the majority. Even though there are unIslamist and even anti-Islamist interpretations of Islam they are not clearly and systematically articulated to counter the Islamist version.
Don't get me wrong. The anti-Islamists have lots of courage. They are also highly motivated. They feel they are losing their country and know that if they stand up and oppose Islamist regimes they face potential persecution, even death, threats to their family and to the loss of their property.
The problem is that they have no backing from their counterparts in the West, either governments or all but a few non-government organizations. Students don't demonstrate on their behalf. They don't own much of the local mass media and are divided by ideological views. Some are not really moderate politically but are Marxists or radical Arab nationalists. And in many cases they lack practical political experience. In short, they have a tremendously uphill battle, as I documented in my book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East.