The democratic uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been widely celebrated but in the West they have generated concern and apprehension. Most of this concern involves the future role of religion in the politics of the Arab world. In this essay, I make two broad observations. First, concern in the West about the rise of mainstream Islamist parties is partly based not on the illiberal orientation of these groups but the fact that they are politically independent actors who challenge Western geo-strategic interests in the region. Second, the role of religion in government has never been democratically negotiated en masse in the Arab world. To assume that this issue has been resolved and a broad consensus exists is to project a Western understanding of religion-state relations on the Arab-Islamic world. Doing so is both erroneous and analytically distorted. The battles over the role of religion in politics have yet to begin in the Arab world.