Despite the general tendency within the literature on Islamism to label all Islamist associations as undemocratic due to shared Islamic ethos. this article suggests that Islamist groups vary in ideology and methods from one another. They can become a counter-hegemonic force that threatens the democratic order or a potential force for democratization of the Islamic community. The role Islamist associations play in society is determined by the role of Islam within the Islamist discourse that is shaped by the social, economic and political structure within which Islamists operate. By comparing the dominant Turkish Islamist movement Milli Görüş in Germany with its Dutch counterpart based on data collected during field research between the years of 2004 and 2007, this article argues that European states ultimately determine the form Islamism takes within the European public space.