Themes, Questions and Independent Research
Summarize the main themes of the readings to which you have been assigned. Are the readings similar or different in the way that they explain the human rights of minority groups in the Middle East? Do you find the approach that the readings adopt to this issue convincing or not? Explain.
Castellino and Cavanaugh are emotionless and critical
The authors take a critical stance, Monshipouri and Castellino & Cavanaugh have similar perspectives
Choose two minority groups identified in the readings. Then,
(1) Summarize the status of these groups as explained in the readings.
(2) Undertake relevant research on the World Wide Web. In light of your research, provide a concise summary of the current situation of these groups.
(3) Please make sure to share your sources with the class in both your oral and written reports.
***what u need to do is write a introduction paragraph ***
Introduction requirement –
Are the readings similar or different in the way that they explain the human rights of minority groups in the Middle East? Do you find the approach that the readings adopt to this issue convincing or not? Explain.
READING 1 SUMMARY
Monshipouri, Part II, Chapter 8
The study of minorities in the Middle East is directly linked to the root causes of marginalization
In cases of the Copts in Egypt and the Kurds in Turkey, it appears an integrationist approach toward socioeconomic and cultural inclusion and recognition of the rights of minorities has proven a positive step toward the reasonable resolution of the problems.
It should be noted that the framing of these minority issues in terms of threats to national security and political stabilitynot in terms of cultural and political inclusionhas prolonged the plight of these groups at both local and regional levels. Desecuritization of the minority threats, as well as appropriate external pressure (the EU in the case of Turkey), have enabled national policymakers to pursue reformist agenda, while engaging the minority groups and their legitimate demands.
The main lesson to draw is that in virtually all societies it is vitally important to end marginalization if a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, religious, sectarian, and racial backgrounds is to be achieved.
The key to shoring up minorities desire to remain loyal to a nation- state in which they liverather than leaning toward building up new forms of political communityis to frontally address the issue of marginality.
Today, in some countries (Lebanon, Jordan, or the Islamic Republic of Iran) nonMuslim and other minority groups are guaranteed a fixed share of seats in representative political bodies.
Minority group # 1
The Kurds in Turkey
They are Indo- European people who are estimated to be around 2530 million and live in a mountainous area along the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.
They are a large and distinct ethnic minority who are mainly Sunni Muslim tribal people with their own language and customs.
Theyve failed multiple times at achieving in dependance
In the twentieth century alone, Kurdish rebellions in Turkey in 1925, 1930, 1937, and 1984 only resulted in additional defeats, death, and destruction.
Resistance against Iraq during the Iran- Iraq War made Saddam Hussein angry who launched poison gas attacks on a Kurdish village causing the death of several thousand people. In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Iraqs Kurds revolted against Saddam Hussein but were crushed by the Iraqi army, forcing many of hundreds of thousands of them to flee to Turkey.
In 1984, the conflict between the Kurdish desire to form cultural and political autonomy and the Turkish state efforts to prevent that autonomy was very intense which launched a widespread Kurdish uprising that was met by Turkish military repression.
Since the early 1990s, Turkish people and officials began to recognize the cultural rights of the Kurds, legalizing the use of the Kurdish language in the process. These changes in law and mainstream views on the Kurdish issue have pointed to a desecuritization process transpiring in Turkey.
Starting in 2005, Turkeys prime minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan encouraged several steps to ease bans on Kurdish broadcasting and educational systems. As a result, vast sums of money were poured into Kurdish regions to subsidize education for the poor, especially for girls.
Minority Group # 2
The Copts in Egypt
The Copts were a majority in Egypt from the fourth to the seventh centuries.
Copts represent approximately 8 % of the Egyptian population, around 95% of them are christian
The Copts suffered persecution in Egypt after Chalcedon by Christiansunder Byzantine controluntil the Islamic- Arab conquest of Egypt
After that, they found themselves coexisting with their Muslim rulers, sometimes under an uneasy but peaceful armistice, and at others under attack.
The Copts dhimmi status was abrogated by Said Pasha in 1856. Copts were exempted from paying the jizya, the head tax paid by non- Muslims in Egypt from the Muslim conquests until 1855.
In the twentieth century, especially during the 1940s and 1950s, the proportion of Copts in official posts exceeded their proportion of the population. Copts were among Egypts large landowners, and many were leading members of the WafdEgypts most popular political party before a military coup in 1952 toppled the monarchy. Copts have also figured prominently in the evolution of Egyptian and Arab arts, theater, and scholarship.
In the 2011 revolt against then president Hosni Mubarak, many Copts took an active role in pro- democracy demonstrations, contributing to the downfall of Mubaraks regime.
The Copts are economically advantaged and have engaged in commerce, medicine, law, and accountancy. They tend to be better educated than Muslims. Rarely are any Copts appointed to posts in the judicial system, police ranks, or army. Copts are underrepresented in the police, security forces, armed forces, and much of the civil service
The government strictly enforces an 1856 law that renders it illegal to build or repair a church without presidential approval. In 1998, President Hosni Mubarak delegated authority to provincial governors to approve such permits and it has become a much easier process since then
Coptic activists have articulated several demands in recent years.
More representation in the political system
Greater equality in promotions in academia, the public sector, and the state bureaucracyespecially the police and the military
Removal of religious identification from government
Easier licensing procedures for church construction.
In the aftermath of 2011 revolution, Copts are likely to add yet another demand to this list: to participate equally alongside their Muslim compatriots in decisions on how to govern society
Caught between the atmosphere of violence and integration, the Egyptian Christian Copts have in recent years, navigated between apathy and engagement. But after the 2011 Revolution, many Copts seek new possibilities and opportunities.
READING 2 SUMMARY
Castellino and Cavanaugh
Two primary types of minorities in the Middle East: Religious minorities and Muslim ethnic minorities (p. 79).
Religious minorities include those part of the regions early history as well as groups established during or after the 19th century. (Ibid.).
The second category comprises Muslim ethnic groups spread over two or more territories with a distinct cultural identity and language. (Ibid.).
The idea of nation-states was brought over by the west and effectively replaced Pan-Arabism and the secular models of Islamic societies that existed in the early twentieth century and shaped minority identity construction within these societies (Ibid.).
Being a minority doesnt always mean that the population of the group is necessarily smaller than the dominant group. It only means that the dominant group has more socio-political or geopolitical power than the minority group. (Ibid.).
Whereas such identities were historically distinguishable from the Muslim majority by socio-cultural factors, that distinction became politically framed and informed by that minoritys relationship with the state (Ibid.).
Religious minorities do not just include non-Muslims, but also political minorities such as Shia (Saudi Arabia) or Sunni (Iran) Muslims.
Castellino and Cavanaugh also reference a distinction between Muslim intellectuals living (mainly) in the West who engage in an optimistic discourse on minorities against the rigid framework of shariah-minded discourse located elsewhere.
Outlines a dichotomy of perspectives, perhaps a false optimism from the west that excludes the local shariah perspective of minority rights.
Minority Group #1: Kurds
Minority Group #2: Copts
Violence in Egypt against Copts is depicted as sectarian in the reading (p. 96).
Copts have populations in Jordan, Sudan, Lebanon, and especially Egypt, where it has the largest denomination of Christians.
Case by Country:
Copts in Northern Sudan have had a higher profile than other Christian denominations in Northern Sudan. (p. 119).
For instance, Copts are registered for their churches to receive tax exempts, where others are reluctant to do so for fear of interference (p. 119).
By far the largest denomination of Christians in Egypt (p.119).
Whilst the Copts are physically and linguistically indistinguishable from the rest of the Egyptian population, many within the community believe they are a separate race with a distinct language and that they are not Arabs but descendants of the pharaohs, the original Afro-Nilotic people of the land.
There are different external and internal interpretations of the Copts. For instance, outside of Egypt, the Copts are sometimes portrayed as a religious (non-Muslim) minority community under siege and this narrative has been used to particular effect in the United States (p. 120). But internally, Egyptian civil society has come to regard the Copts with some suspicion; whilst Egyptians march for democracy and self-governance from a repressive state, the demonstrations by Copts (some leading to violence) have been primarily to reassert their difference within Egyptian society (Ibid.)
This has led to interpretations of certain events like the violence that occurred on the 9th of October 2011 where 26 Coptic Christians were killed to be interpreted as another example of the rise of an increasingly intolerant Middle East for non-Muslims (p. 120) by people outside MENA, but the discourse internally is much different.
The calls for justice for the Copts in Egypt from external sources, while perhaps justified, raised a lot of worries about colonialism. Castellino and Cavanaugh explain that this is because appropriating and reinforcing these differences left footprints in post-colonial states, where the idea of embracing differences was not seen as a mark of liberalism but as a historical hangover of Western interference (p. 120-121).
READING 3 SUMMARY
Chase: The Justice and Development Party and Kurds
The AKP is a moderate Islamist party who has ruled Turkey since 2002. Issues regarding minority rights, religious right and economic/social rights in the AKP is seen as important while women’s rights and freedom of speech are subjects that are avoided, AKPs attitude towards human rights and democracy was motivated more by political interest rather than by a genuine commitment to human rights or democracy (Kayaoglu 105). The AKP takes advantage of human rights when it needs to reach elites, minorities and international actors to win elections and to strengthen its position and to reach powerful resources like the military. Before the AKP, Turkey participated in external and internal human rights, its constitution has 3 sections dedicated to fundamental rights and recognizes international human rights over domestic jurisdiction. Turkey has several Human rights organization that focus on left/right wing political prisoners and Kurdish rights and combating torture and helping torture victims. Turkey is a member of the European convention on human rights. Human rights and democracy plays a huge role when it comes down to negotiations between the EU and Turkey, the EU sent Turkey Copenhagen Criteria with expectations regarding democracy and human rights when Turkey was named a EU candidate country. Turkey also became a NATO member, the Turkey and US alliance allows the US to have somewhat Turkeys human rights and democracy.
The military liberty to pursue the Kurds as threats, was possible due to having a weak government and cultural impunity. The Kurds have experienced military aggression specifically towards the Kurdistan Workers Party, on page 107, Kayaoglu says wide spread human rights abuses, including the burning of villages, the torture of PKK militants and sympathizers, the disappearance of Kurdish activists, the jailing of Kurdish intellectuals, the suppression of Kurdish media, and extrajudicial killings attributed to the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Unit. The Kurdish were not allowed to use the letters q, w and x because they are not part of the Turkish alphabet, offering a democratic solution, the AKP implemented cultural rights and acknowledged the conflict the Kurdish were facing with political and cultural problems. In order to address Kurdish demands, the government sent PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to jail and revealed a Democratic Initiative. But the Kurds human rights situation remains unsolved, on page 112, Kayaogly says The Kurdish minority wants constitutional recognition, public schools teaching in Kurdish language in predominantly Kurdish regions, the acceptance of Kurdish as an official language, and the removal of the 10 percent nationwide electoral threshold that the parties need in order to gain a seat in parliament.
Current Situations Connections
Copts in Egypt
As Egypts political and social crisis persists, violence against Coptic women and girls is escalating, including kidnappings, forced conversions, and other human rights abuses. According to a new report released at the hearing by Michele Clark, at least 550 Coptic women and girls over the last five years have been kidnapped from their communities. The few who have been found suffered human rights abuses including forced conversion, rape, forced marriage, beatings, and domestic servitude while being held by their captors, raising the question whether developments in the new Egypt are leaving Coptic women and their families more vulnerable than ever (U.S. Helsinki Commission 2012)