Projects of democratic reform in the Middle East and North Africa have said little about the place of minorities and minority rights in their vision of reform, implying that these issues are best deferred to some indefinite future. While many people describe the Arab Spring as a ‘battle for pluralism’, there is a reluctance to discuss what this pluralism might actually mean for the political claims of minorities, for fear of triggering divisive conflicts and undemocratic tendencies. Is there an alternative to this fearful deferral of minority politics? Can we imagine ‘transformative minority politics’ – that is, a form of minority politics that strengthens democratic reform in the region, and that helps deepen a culture of human rights and democratic citizenship?
This volume explores whether this is indeed a realistic prospect in the Middle East and North Africa, examining cases that include the Amazigh in North Africa, the Copts in Egypt, the Kurds in Iraq, the Palestinians in Israel, the ‘minoritarian’ regimes in Syria and Bahrain, and various ethnic minorities in Iran. This book was originally published as a special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Minority politics in the Middle East and North Africa: the prospects for transformative change Eva Pföstl and Will Kymlicka
2. A turning point? The Arab Spring and the Amazigh movement Bruce Maddy-Weitzman
3. The Middle East’s majority problems: minoritarian regimes and the threat of democracy Omar M. Dajani
4. Tribal hands and minority votes: ethnicity, regionalism and elections in Iran Rasmus Christian Elling
5. Unheard voices: state-making and popular participation in post-Ottoman Iraq Güldem Baykal Büyüksaraç
6. The potential of history textbooks and curriculum reform in Iraqi Kurdistan within a conflict transformation frame: dealing with the past from a processual and dynamic perspective Jordi Tejel
7. Beyond the cross and the crescent: plural identities and the Copts in contemporary Egypt Vivian Ibrahim
8. The ‘Coptic question’ in post-revolutionary Egypt: citizenship, democracy, religion Paola Pizzo
Will Kymlicka is Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Eva Pföstl is Contract Professor in Political Science at LUISS University, Rome, Italy.