This paper argues that democracy without Islamists is now inconceivable in the Middle East. Their exclusion from any democratic process would put the legitimacy and sustainability of the entire process at stake. However, merely lifting the barriers to inclusion is not enough to cure the region’s persistent democratic deficit. It is necessary to revisit socio-economic structures, broaden participation and implement comprehensive transitional justice processes that confer legitimacy on emerging political systems. Even among radicals, such measures can help reduce the incentives for resorting to violence. Among organisations committed to engagement, they can help transcend ideological dogmas.