Sectarian-based conflicts — or at any rate, spasms of intercommunal violence characterized as such — are certainly not new. Nor is Iraq or, for that matter, the Middle East as a whole, the only locus of conflict depicted as being sectarian in nature, as the disturbing events in Burma/Myanmar, as well as in the Central African Repubic (CAR) and Nigeria clearly illustrate. With increasing frequency, media accounts of the civil war in Syria describe it in sectarian terms and report that the violence there has inflamed "sectarian tension" throughout the Gulf and beyond. Meanwhile, headlines have warned that the "sectarian divide" in Pakistan is widening and intensifying. There are also reports of a rising tide of "anti-Shi'a sectarianism" in Malaysia and occasional references to the long-term low-level "sectarian insurgency" in southern Thailand.

Across this variegated landscape, inter- and intra-sectarian violence has taken many forms — Sunni vs Shi'a Muslim, Muslim vs Christian, Buddhist vs Muslim — and has claimed far too many victims on all sides. Against the backdrop of this tragic loss of life, there are many questions begging for answers: Why have the terms "sectarianism," "sectarian divide," "sectarian fault lines," "sectarian fissures" and the like become so prominent in the political discourse? Do religions have resources within them that can justify or even encourage violence? Are religious doctrinal differences primarily responsible for stoking intercommunal fear and hatred? What roles have state, sub-state and transnational actors played in fomenting sectarian discord? And importantly, what mechanisms and approaches have been or could be employed to avert sectarian violence, to foster tolerance and peaceful coexistence, and to promote reconciliation? The essays in this series tackle these and other salient questions pertaining to sectarianism in the MENA and Asia Pacific regions.

MAP Essays

June 17, 2014
Secular Sectarians
Fanar Haddad
A common dichotomy that emerges in discussions of Sunni-Shi‘i “sectarianism” in the contemporary Middle East is that of secular versus sectarian. The logic underlining this false duality is obvious enough: a sect is, after all, a subgroup of a religious denomination that exists as a result of theological or jurisprudential peculiarity as shaped by history, politics, and geography. Therefore, logic would suggest that “secularism” is a plausible antonym for “sectarianism:” a temporal, civic approach to public space rooted in modern understandings of the nation-state and its master institutions and the need to separate church from state. As intuitive as this undoubtedly seems, it remains a false dichotomy that misrepresents sectarian identities and sectarian dynamics in the Arab world and overlooks the role played by class, politics, and power in what is ostensibly a religious issue.

June 18, 2014
Reconceptualizing Sectarianism in the Middle East and Asia 
Ibrahim Marashi
Sectarianism as a concept has gained renewed prominence following an offensive by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in early June 2014, which resulted in the fall of Mosul and a string of Iraqi towns. These land grabs have resulted in a flurry of commentaries blaming the conflict on sectarian differences between Iraq’s Shi‘a and Sunnis and predicting the fragmentation of Iraq along sectarian lines. This piece seeks to provide an analysis as to whether sectarianism, in and of itself, is the driving factor behind the renewed conflict in Iraq or the three-year civil war raging in Syria.

June 27, 2014
Sectarian Conflict and Grassroots Peacebuilding in Central Java 
Sumanto Al Qurtuby
Religiously-inspired anti-pluralist actions, vigilante attacks, Islamist extremism, and terrorism—as well as a spectrum of ethnically, regionally, and religiously-based civilian groupings and paramilitary bands—have figured in Indonesian politics since the downfall of Suharto’s New Order dictatorial regime in 1998. However, not all areas of the country have experienced sectarian violence. Not all Indonesian Muslims are fanatics or zealots, nor are Muslim radicals the only agents of conflict. On the contrary, there are many instructive and inspiring examples across contemporary Indonesia of local leaders and communities that have produced and sustained religious harmony.

July 7, 2014
Religious Pluralism versus Intolerance: Sectarian Violence in Indonesia 
Carool Kersten
Religious pluralism has been under threat and sectarianism on the rise during the ten-year (2004-2014) tenure of outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Carool Kersten explains how local and regional authorities condone (and sometimes even stimulate) intimidation and hate crimes.

July 14, 2014
Putting Out the Fire in Southern Thailand: An Appeal for Truce Seeking 
Tim Rackett
Observers have struggled to explain ongoing sectarian violence in southern Thailand given that both Thai Buddhists and Malay/Thai Muslims are victims of violence, have historically coexisted peacefully, and share local customs and spiritual traditions. Tim Rackett explores the role of majority and minority ethnic and religious identities in fueling sectarian violence and identifies a way out.

July 15, 2014
Violence and Peace Spoilers in the Southern Philippines 
Joseph Franco
The 27 March 2014 signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) by the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was heralded as the start of enduring peace and development in Mindanao. Unfortunately, spoilers opposed to the CAB remain capable of derailing the process. Joseph Franco explains some of the nuances of spoiling efforts as well as the prevailing socioeconomic milieu in the Southern Philippines that sustains latent enablers for sectarian conflict.

July 21, 2014
The Role of Civil Society in Countering Violent Extremism in Indonesia
Kumar Ramakrishna
The Indonesian experience suggests that an over-reliance on hard power may actually be counter-productive, inadvertently strengthening rather than weakening the violent Islamist extremists. The author explains the need for an indirect strategy in which calibrated hard power is subordinated to and supplemented by softer measures aimed at diminishing the underlying conditions that give rise to violent extremism.

July 23, 2014
Sectarian-Based Violence: The Case of the Yezidis in Iraq and Syria 
Sebastian Maisel
Historically, the Yezidis -- an ancient Kurdish-speaking ethno-religious community -- have been subject to discrimination and violence. The current status of this community in Iraq and Syria is precarious, at best.

July 24, 2014
Shi‘a-Inspired Violence in Malaysia: A Possibility?
Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid
Ever since the triumph of Iranian Shi’a revolutionaries against the shah in 1979, the Malaysian government has been wary of the dangers of the revolution being exported across its borders. The author argues that rather than oppressing and vilifying indigenous Shi‘a citizens, the state should engage them intellectually, socially, and perhaps even religiously, in the spirit of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

July 25, 2014
Malaysia and its Shi‘a “Problem”  
Rodger Shanahan
The primacy of ethnic Malays (and by association their adherence to Sunni Islam) has meant that Shi‘i Islam is considered a “deviant” sect in the country. Although official spokespeople regularly claim that the state has no concerns about Shi’a practicing their faith as long as they refrain from proselytizing, adherents face both social and legal restrictions.

July 30. 2014
Salafism and the Persecution of Shi‘ites in Malaysia  
Syed Farid Alatas
In the last few decades, religious scholars have branded many age-old Malay and Sufi religious practices as wrongful innovations. One of the great casualties of this rising intolerance has been Shi‘ism, whose followers have received some of the most intense criticism. It is widely accepted that these developments have much to do with the rise of Salafism.

July 30, 2014
Democracy Cannot Exist without Social Cohesion: The Myanmar Challenge  
Jonathan Bogais
By emphasizing uniformity through laws to protect one class of race and religion, Myanmar legislators are advancing a device for oppression. If enacted, the Law on Protection of Race and Religion would not only breach international conventions; it would also preset the conditions for further sectarian violence.

August 4, 2014
Sectarian Violence involving Rohingya in Myanmar: Historical Roots and Modern Triggers
Eliane Coates
While the tangled roots of the Rohingya have played a critical role in the recent inter-religious violence between Rohingya and Buddhists, so too has the rise of Burman-Buddhist ethno-nationalism. This essay discusses the the salient narratives driving anti-Rohingya/anti-Muslim sentiments as well as the policies and reforms that have contributed to prolonging the violence.

August 5, 2014
"Marked" for Exclusion: The Problem of Pluralism, State-building, and Communal Identities in Iraq and the Arab World
Fanar Haddad
In this essay, the author argues that the dynamics of contemporary Sunni-Shi‘a relations in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world are not fundamentally different from those animating other societal cleavages. The modern Iraqi state’s awkwardness vis-à-vis its Shi‘a population, and indeed other outgroups and minorities, was most directly a product of exclusionary nation-building based on problematic conceptions of “unity” and “pluralism.” Rather than actually fostering unity or respecting and nurturing pluralism (politically or communally), these concepts have often been used to exclude dissenters whose non-conformity was deemed a threat to the body politic.

May 14, 2015
The Alawi Community and the Syria Crisis
Fabrice Balanche
“Alawis to the grave and Christians to Beirut!” This troubling slogan was chanted during demonstrations against the Assad regime in spring 2011, and exactly who was behind the chanting remains a controversial question. The Syrian opposition claimed that the slogan’s authors were members of the intelligence services who had infiltrated the demonstrations. According to this view, Syrian government agents were seeking to portray the opposition as primarily motivated by sectarianism and dominated by Salafis in order to frighten minorities and those wishing to live in a secular Syria.

May 27, 2015
Sectarian Violence and Intolerance in Pakistan
Niloufer Siddiqui
On May 13, more than 40 people were killed and at least 13 injured in a gun attack on a bus carrying members of the minority Ismaili Shi‘i sect in Karachi, Pakistan. This was not the deadliest attack of the year, as that dubious honor goes to a suicide bombing in a district in Sindh, which left 61 Shi‘a dead in January. Yet the brazen nature of the attack―carried out in daylight in the bustling megacity of Karachi by gunmen who reportedly boarded the bus and shot at passengers indiscriminately―was striking even in a country where over 2,000 people have been killed and 3,500 injured in sectarian attacks in the past five years.

June 18, 2015
Sectarian Violence in Balochistan 
Farhan Siddiqi
This article surveys and critically evaluates sectarian conflicts and trends in Balochistan during the War on Terror, concentrating primarily on the predominantly Shi‘i Hazara community based in Quetta.

June 26, 2015
The Shi‘a Question in Saudi Arabia 
Raihan Ismail
Saudi Arabia is a Sunni-majority state home to a significant Shi‘i minority, most of whom live in the Eastern Province. The Shi‘a there are mainly of the Twelver sect, which is also the major Shi‘i sect in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Bahrain. The Eastern Province Twelvers are not the only Shi‘a in Saudi Arabia—there are sizable communities of Twelvers in Medina and Isma‘ilis in Najran—but it is they who sit at the center of Shi‘i political movement in the kingdom.

July 17, 2015
Sectarianism and the Search for New Political Orders in the Arab World 
Bassel F. Salloukh
In many Arab countries, the homogenizing, authoritarian, centralized state is a relic of a bygone past. But what will replace it is not yet clear. The popular Arab uprisings that exploded in December 2010, and their overlap with geopolitical battles unleashed by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, combined to torpedo the political orders of several Arab states.

July 22, 2015
Salafism Infiltrates Turkish Religious Discourse
Andrew Hammond
Salafi discourse has made considerable inroads in Turkey over the past 30 years, making contributions to sectarianism in ways that have yet to be fully studied and understood.

September 29, 2015
The Sectarian Crisis in Yemen: Damage from a Divisive Storm
Daniel Martin VariscoSato-Kan Hiroshi and Junji Kawashima
The military campaign called Operation Decisive Storm pits Saudi Arabia and most of the GCC states, along with the United States, Britain, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, and several other minor players, against the Houthis in Yemen, which possess only moral support from the real target in this proxy war, Shi‘i Iran. How did such a lopsided war come about? Why has Yemen become the new battleground in a Sunni-Shi‘i fault line emerging as an ideological rival to the Cold War mentality that saw Soviet communism versus Western capitalism? What precisely is this sectarian crisis all about?

October 27, 2015
Toward a Political Theory of Sectarianism in the Middle East: The Salience of Authoritarianism over Theology
Nader Hashemi
Sunni-Shi’i relations have not always been conflict-ridden nor was sectarianism a strong political force in modern Muslim politics until relatively recently. What factors contributed to this change? In this essay, the author argues that the national context is essential for understanding sectarian conflict in the Middle East today.

November 04, 2015
Hezbollah and the Syrian Conflict
Aurélie Daher
This essay explores what Hezbollah seek to accomplish through its intervention in Syria, how it views the conflict in Syria, the outcome it desires, and the possible adverse impact of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria upon its popularity and mobilization in Lebanon.

November 12, 2015 
Immunizing Against Sectarian “Sickness”: The Case of Oman
Leon Goldsmith
The political culture in Oman seems to foster a pluralist intermeshing of national and sub-national identities that other diverse Arab states like Syria and Iraq were at pains to eliminate. This essay examines the Omani case to explore whether there are any lessons to be learned about sectarianism and how it can be confronted in the wider Middle East.

November 17, 2015
Sectarian Backfire? Assessing Gulf Political Strategy
Justin Gengler
The division of citizens into confessional and other group constituencies, rather than some spontaneous outpouring of primordial hatred, was in fact a calculated survival strategy employed by frightened regimes under siege. It was and remains one premised on forestalling the emergence of cross-cutting societal factions that could challenge the political status quo, coalitions that—unlike narrow sectarian groups—could claim to represent the will of all the people and mobilize a broad base of support in pursuit of those claims. But has playing the sectarian card paid off?

January 19, 2016
Sectarian Divide and Rule in Bahrain: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
Kylie Moore-Gilbert
This essay reveals how decades of sectarian government policy, including divide and rule tactics and discrimination against Bahraini Shiʿa in the workforce and provision of government services, have strengthened sectarian affiliations at the expense of the more inclusive narrative of Bahraini nationalism.

January 26, 2016 
The Rise and Growth of Hezbollah and the Militarization of the Sunni-Shi’a Divide in Lebanon
Hilal Khashan
This essay tracks the origins of the Sunni-Shiite divide which, in the case of Lebanon, lay dormant until the creation of its modern day political structure. It argues that the country’s sectarian tensions mounted as a result of the installation of an Islamic republic in Iran, and the establishment of Hezbollah as an instrument in the pursuit of leading power status in the Middle East.

February 23, 2017
Minority-ness and the Re-entrenchment of Sectarianism since the Arab Uprisings
Elizabeth Monier
This essay looks at sectarianism from the perspective of minority studies. The author argues that if sectarianism is understood as a struggle for power over national truths and national resources, then a persistent overemphasis on labeling minority/majority categories could contribute to the form and force of sectarian discourse and politics.

March 29, 2017
Shiite Mobilization and the Transformation of Sectarian Militancy in Pakistan
Khuram Iqbal and Zubair Azam
Historically in Pakistan, Shiite militancy has remained reactive and selective. But with thousands of Pakistani Shiites being recruited and trained by Tehran, the landscape of sectarian militancy is likely to undergo a momentous transformation with a possibility of a head-on confrontation between militant fronts of the two opposing sects. This essay analyzes the future impact of Shiite mobilization in Pakistan on the country and how it could transform the local sectarian conflict by fueling radicalization and increasing prospects for ISIS to penetrate and exploit local militant groups to its favor.

April 13, 2017
Hezbollah, the Lebanese Sectarian State, and Sectarianism
Joseph Daher
This essay discusses Hezbollah's gradual acceptance of Lebanon's sectarian political system, the means by which it has achieved hegemony over Lebanon's Shiite population, and how its intervention in Syria has accentuated sectarianism and Sunni-Shiite tensions in Lebanon.

April 20, 2017
An Evolution of Rohingya Persecution in Myanmar: From Strategic Embrace to Genocide
Alice Cowley and Maung Zarni
This essay discusses the persecution of, and violence committed against, Rohingya. The authors argue that recent waves of state-directed violence communal destruction, far from being a new phenomenon, have been occurring since 1978 and are part of a process of ‘slow-burning genocide.’

May 4, 2017
Southern Thailand’s Malay Muslim Freedom Fighters
Tim Rackett
Who are the mysterious and enigmatic insurgents in southern Thailand? What do they want? Who do they actually speak for? And what does a separatist struggle and violence mean for ordinary Muslims? Sascha Helbardt’s work, Deciphering Southern Thailand’s Violence (2015), explores the main Malay Muslim group that has been spearheading the insurgency, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Koordinasi (BRN-C). Drawing on Helbardt’s study, this essay seeks to shed light on the BRN-C’s central role in waging the insurgency in southern Thailand — a role that until now has been poorly understood and greatly underestimated.

May 30, 2017
The Saudi-Iran Factor in Pakistan’s Sunni-Shia Conflict
Shahzeb Ali Rathore
This essay examines the effects of the Saudi-Iran rivalry on Sunni-Shia relations in Pakistan. The essay shows that this rivalry, which has sectarian undertones and is partly responsible for the continuing Syrian civil war, has not only complicated Pakistan's relations with Riyadh and Tehran but has exacerbated Sunni-Shia tensions domestically. Pakistan's predicament has become even more complicated in light of the recent Trump-led Arab Islamic American Summit.

July 6, 2017
Jakarta’s Political Turmoil: Post-storm Thoughts on the Moderate Muslim Mainstream
Giora Eliraz
Jakarta, the hub of Indonesian politics, was caught in the eye of a storm when a series of massive protests erupted, calling for the prosecution of the ethnic Chinese Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama for allegedly having committed blasphemy against Islam. What do these developments, together with Ahok's subsequent defeat for reelection and criminal conviction, signify or portend for Indonesia's formative values and democratic consolidation? To what extent has the country's “moderate Muslim mainstream” stepped up to the challenge represented by these events? This essay addresses these questions.  

July 13, 2017
Egyptian Copts Under Attack: The Frailty of a National Unity Discourse
Bård Helge Kårtveit
This essay discusses the recent spate of attacks upon and heightened sense of insecurity felt by Egyptian Coptic Christians. The essay focuses on Copts' growing frustration with state authorities' responses to their grievances.

August 3, 2017
A Band of (Muslim) Brothers? Exploring Bahrain’s Role in the Qatar Crisis
Kylie Moore-Gilbert
The crisis which has engulfed the Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) states since June 5, 2017, leading to an unprecedented diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar, has effectively split the Gulf into three camps, fracturing the uneasy yet much-lauded unity of an alliance which has long prided itself on stability and security. This essay examines Bahrain's involvement in the crisis.

August 8, 2017
Malaysia Navigates the Sectarian Dimension of the Saudi-Iran Rivalry
Mohd Fauzi Bin Abu-Hussin and Asmady Idris
Malaysia’s diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran generally have been cordial while its economic ties with both countries have been expanding. However, the Saudi-Iran strategic rivalry has intensified both within and beyond the Middle East, raising several questions that this essay proposes to address: What are Malaysia’s interests in Saudi Arabia and Iran? Is there any evidence that Saudi Arabia and Iran, as a function of their competition with each other, are seeking to expand their influence in Southeast Asia, and in Malaysia in particular, through the promulgation of Shia and Wahhabi ideology? If so, to what extent and by what means could Malaysia respond to this development so as to avoid jeopardizing the fruitful aspects of their relations with both countries?

August 29, 2017
Islamism in the Middle East Sectarian Conflict
Ana Belén Soage
This article focuses on the ideological threat that prompted those authoritarian regimes to play the sectarian card: the spread of Islamism. It argues that, at its core, the split in the Middle East is not a sectarian clash opposing Sunnis and Shias — although after years of bloody conflict, many of the actors involved have come to see it that way. It is a geopolitical battle between, on the one side, states and groups aligned with the West and interested in preserving the regional status quo; and, on the other, states and groups characterized by their anti-Western rhetoric and eager to subvert that status quo. In some regards, it is a replay of the Arab Cold War — but extended to Iran, and with Islamism replacing Arab socialism as the subverting ideology.

November 7, 2017
The Political (or Social) Economy of Sectarianism in Lebanon
Rima Majed
Most of the literature that seeks to explain sectarianism in Lebanon focuses on its history or on the regional and geopolitical dynamics associated with it. Relatively few studies have looked at the internal factors that shape the process of sectarianization and sustain sectarianism today. However, if one does not first understand the present dynamics of sectarianism and the material and structural factors that shape it, then exploring the history of the phenomenon in an attempt to locate its “roots” is unlikely to be very illuminating. This essay seeks to shed light on the current political economy of sectarianism in Lebanon so as to advance our understanding of this phenomenon.

November 14, 2017
Waves of Genocidal Terror against Rohingyas by Myanmar and the Resultant Exodus Since 1978
Maung Zarni and Natalie Brinham
This essay aims to highlight the scope and rhythmic nature of Burma’s persecution of Rohingyas the devastating impact on the Rohingya population. First, it sets out to describe and help readers understand the evolving pretexts given by the successive Burmese governments and the methods of group destruction and resultant waves — five in total — of the outflow of Rohingyas in large number. Then it attempts to offer an interpretive framework within which this cycle of violence-exodus-lull is best understood.

April 24, 2018
Sectarianism without Borders: Copts and Genocide Recognition
Elizabeth Monier
In this essay, the author contends that the violence against Copts has been misleadingly characterized as alien to Egyptian culture, and discusses how some diaspora Copts and Church leaders have sought to portray the attacks that have taken place since the Arab Spring.

July 18, 2018
The Sectarian Dimension of the Syrian Civil War and Lebanese-Syrian Relations
Abbas Assi
The eruption of conflict between the Syrian regime and the armed opposition exacerbated the political and sectarian divisions within the Lebanese government, causing it to sever relations with Damascus and dissociate itself from the war. Nevertheless, the Lebanese government eventually was forced to coordinate with the Assad regime in order to manage the refugee crisis and other spillover effects of the conflict. Beirut’s dealings with Damascus reflect the overarching aim of mitigating the impact of the war on the relations between the Lebanese Sunni and Shiite communities.

November 20, 2019
Secularism and the Islamophobia Zeitgeist in India and Sri Lanka
Neil DeVotta
Islamist terrorism tends to normalize Islamophobia. For instance, Pakistan’s willingness to use jihadi forces to destabilize India in disputed Kashmir and the renascent Islamism connected to extremism worldwide cause anxiety and promote Islamophobia in states like India and Sri Lanka. In these instances, Islamophobia is induced from abroad. But a nationalist ideology rooted in religion can also fan it and unleash massive violence. This is what the Hindu nationalist ideology in India does by framing the country’s Muslims as a dangerous, predatory, and destabilizing “other.” Post-civil war, Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists resort to similar accusations as they seek to extend majoritarianism and manipulate Islamophobia for political gain.

December 23, 2019
Post-Election Sri Lanka: Inter-Communal Relations in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Presidency
Roshni Kapur
Gotabaya Rajapaksa won a decisive victory in the November 16 Sri Lankan presidential election. Although this election was not as polarized as the previous one, the voting patterns demonstrate the divergence in key priorities for the country’s majority and minority communities.

March 3, 2020
The Shift to Majoritarian Politics and Sectarianism in India: Domestic and International Responses
Roshni KapurNazneen Mohsina
There has been a visible shift towards majoritarian politics and sectarianism in India since the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) accession to power in 2014. The party has promoted a Hindutva ideology that declares India as fundamentally Hindu and as such, its culture should be viewed in terms of Hindu ideas and values. This article discusses the series of controversial policies that the BJP under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has implemented since its re-election in 2019 and the domestic as well as international reactions they have elicited.

June 16, 2020
Nation or Religion? Iraq’s Hybrid Identity Politics
Barah Mikail
Is Iraqi society structurally sectarian? Or does it have a strong capacity of resilience to sectarian trends? This article  explores the nature of Iraq’s political sociology by examining several key indicators: the composition and aspirations of Iraqi society; the nature of the parliament; and the challenges that current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi faced as he tried to form a government in spring 2020.

July 7, 2020
Covid-19 in India and Sri Lanka: New Forms of Islamophobia
Roshni Kapur
In recent years, Islamophobia has been on the rise both in India and Sri Lanka. The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Asia has also produced new forms of Islamophobia in New Delhi and Colombo. While governments around the world have played the blame game and typecast one ethnic group or community as the “super spreaders,” the stigmatization of the Muslim community in India and Sri Lanka has become normalized, cutting across different demographics. 

September 8, 2020
Gender Politics in Oman: Between State, Sect, and Tribe
Zeinab Hussein, Leon Goldsmith
The issue of female (dis)empowerment in the Middle East lies at the very core of the Arab-Islamic world’s contemporary troubles. Most economists agree that significant levels of income inequality negatively impact economic growth and development, so why is it not commonly considered how significant inequality between genders might also diminish social and political outcomes? This essay explores this question of gender inequality and socio-political outcomes in the Sultanate of Oman and parses between the state, sect, and tribe to discuss the sources of reform and resistance to women’s empowerment.


selected bibliography

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Ahmed, Khaled. Pakistan’s Sunni-Shi‘a Violence and Its Links to the Middle East. London: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Al-Kandari, Yagoub Yousif and Ibrahim Naji Al-Hadben. “Tribalism, Sectarianism, and Democracy in Kuwaiti Culture,” DOMES: Digest of Middle East Studies, 19:2 (2010): 268-285. 

Al-Rasheed, Madawi. “Sectarianism as Counter-Revolution: Saudi Responses to the Arab Spring,” Studies In Ethnicity & Nationalism, 11:3 (2011): 513-526. 

Al-Rawi, Ahmed K. “The US Influence in Shaping Iraq’s Sectarian Media,” International Communication Gazette, 75:4 (2013): 374-391. 

Al-Salem, Faisal. “The Issue of Identity in Selected Arab Gulf States,” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 4 (1987): 21-32.

Bahgat, Gawdat. “Peace in the Persian Gulf: The Shi’is Dimension.” Peace and Change, 24:1 (1999): 76-90.

Bahri, Luayy. “The Socioeconomic Foundations of the Shiite Opposition in Bahrain,” Mediterranean Quarterly, 11:3 (2000): 129-143.

Barzegar, Kayhan. “Iran and the Shiite Crescent: Myths and realities,” Brown Journal of World Affairs, 15:1 (2008): 87-99.

Carroll, Katherine Blue.” Tribal Law and Reconciliation in the New Iraq,” The Middle East Journal, 65:1 (2011): 11-29. 

Clark, Janine and Bassel F. Salloukh. “Elite Strategies, Civil Society, and Sectarian Identity in Postwar Lebanon,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 45:4 (2013): 731-749. 

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Davis, Eric. “Introduction: The Question of Sectarian Identities in Iraq,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 4:3 (2010): 229-242.

Dawisha, Adeed. “National Identity and Sub-state Sectarian Loyalties in Iraq,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 4:3 (2010): 243-256.

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Dorlian, Samy. “The Sa'da War in Yemen: between Politics and Sectarianism,” Muslim World, 101:2 (2011): 182-201. 

Fuller, Graham and Rend Rahim Francke. The Arab Shi‘a: The Forgotten Muslims. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999.

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Haleem, Irm. “Ethnic and Sectarian Violence and the Propensity towards Praetorianism in Pakistan,” Third World Quarterly, 24:3 (2003): 463-477. 

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Ibrahim, Fouad. The Shias of Saudi Arabia. London: Saqi Books, 2006.

Iskander, Elizabeth. “The ‘Mediation’ of Muslim–Christian Relations in Egypt: the Strategies and Discourses of the Official Egyptian Press during Mubarak’s Presidency,” Islam & Christian-Muslim Relations, 23:1 (2012): 31-44. 

Ismael, Tareq and Jacqueline Ismael. “The Sectarian State in Iraq and the New Political Class,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 4:3 (2010): 339-356.

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Khoury, Dina Rizk. “The Security State and the Practice and Rhetoric of Sectarianism in Iraq,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 4:3 (2010): 325-338.

Khuri, Fuad. Tribe and State in Bahrain: The Transformation of Social and Political Authority in an Arab State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

Kostiner, Joseph. “Shi‘i Unrest in the Gulf.” In Martin Kramer, ed., Shi‘ism, Resistance, and Revolution, 73-88. Boulder: Westview Press, 1987.

Lacroix, Stéphane. Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.

Lawson, Fred H. “Repertoires of Contention in Contemporary Bahrain.” In Quintan Wiktorowicz, ed., lslamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach, 89-111. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Louër, Laurence. Transnational Shi‘a Politics: Religious and Political Networks in the Gulf. London: Hurst, 2008.

_____________. “Sectarianism and Coup-Proofing Strategies in Bahrain,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 36:2 (2013): 245-260.

Margalit, Avishai. “Sectarianism,” Dissent, 55:1 (2008): 37-46. 

Matthiesen, Tobias. “Hizbullah al-Hijaz: A History of the Most Radical Saudi Shi‘a Opposition Group,” The Middle East Journal, 64:2 (2010): 179-197.

Naor, Dan. “The Quest for a Balance of Power in Lebanon during Suleiman Frangieh’s Presidency, 1970–76,” Middle Eastern Studies, 49:6 (2013): 990-1008. 

Nakash, Yitzhak. Reaching for Power: The Shi‘a in the Modern Arab World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Nasr, Vali. The Shi‘a Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam WiII Shape the Future. London: Norton, 2007.

Paasche, Erlend. “Iraqi Refugees in a Damascus Suburb: Carriers of Sectarian Conflict?” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 5:2 (2011): 247-262. 

Pinault, David. “Sunni-Shia Sectarianism and Competition for the Leadership of Global Islam,” Tikkun, 25:1 (2010): 45-75.

Al-Rasheed, Madawi. “The Shi‘a of Saudi Arabia: A Minority in Search of Cultural Authenticity,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 25:1 (1998): 121-138.

Rizvi, Sajjad. “Shi‘ism in Bahrain: Marjaa‘iyya and Politics,” Orient, 4 (2009): 16-24.

Sakai, Keiko. “De-sectarianizing Patterns of Political Mobilization in the Post-conflict Iraq,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 6:2 (2012): 205-229.

Samii, Abbas William. “Shiites in Lebanon: The Key to Democracy,” Middle East Policy, 13:2 (Summer 2006): 30-37.

Schmidhauser, Nathalie Miria.” A Balancing Act: The Sadrist Movement between Nationalist Rhetoric and Sectarian Politics,”  International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 7:2 (2013): 109-129. 

Shah, Mehtab Ali. “Sectarianism—A Threat to Human Security: A Case Study of Pakistan,” Round Table, 94:382 (2005): 613-628. 

Sluglett, Peter. “The British, the Sunnis and the Shi‘is: Social Hierarchies of Identity under the British Mandate,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 4:3 (2010): 257-273.

Steinberg, Guido. “Jihadi Salafism and the Shi‘is: Remarks About the Intellectual Roots of Anti-Shi‘ism.” In Roel Meijer, ed., Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religíous Movement, 107-125. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Taras, Ray. “The (Il)Logic of Intervention In Iraq: Sectarianism, Civil War, and the US Game Plan,” International Journal on World Peace, 23:4 (2006): 33-60.

Visser, Reidar. “The Territorial Aspect of Sectarianism in Iraq,”  International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 4:3 (2010): 295-304.

Weber, Peter. “Modernity, Civil Society, and Sectarianism: The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Takfir Groups,” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary & Nonprofit Organizations, 24:2 (2013): 509-527.

Wehrey, Frederic M. Sectarian Politics in the Gulf. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

Weiss, Max. In the Shadow of Sectarianism: Law, Shi‘ism, and the Making of Modern Lebanon. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Yamao, Dai. “Sectarianism Twisted: Changing Cleavages in the Elections of Post-War Iraq,” Arab Studies Quarterly, 34:1 (2012): 27-51.

Yousif, Bassam. “The Political Economy of Sectarianism in Iraq,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 4:3 (2010): 357-367. 

2. The Asia Pacific

Abaza, M. Indonesian Students in Cairo: Islamic Education, Perceptions and Exchanges. Paris: Cahier d’Archipel, 1994.

Abuza, Zachary. "The Ongoing Insurgency in Southern Thailand," Center for Strategic Research, INSS, National Defense University, Washington, DC (2011).

Azra, A. The Transmission of Islamic Reformism to Indonesia: Networks of Middle Eastern and Malay–Indonesian ‘Ulama in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. PhD dissertation, Columbia University, New York (1992).

Barter, Shane and Ian Zatkin Osburn. “Shrouded: Islam, War, and Holy War in Southeast Asia,”  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 53:1 (2014): 187-201. 

Barua, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. New Delhi: Sarup and Sons, 2000.

Cady, Linell E.  and Sheldon W. Smith. Eds. Religion and Conflict in South and Southeast Asia: Disrupting Violence. London: Routledge, 2006.

Chalk, Peter. “Separatism and Southeast Asia: The Islamic Factor in Southern Thailand, Mindanao and Aceh,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 24:4 (2001): 241-269.

Che Man, Wan Kadir. Muslim Separatism: The Moros of Southern Philippines and the Malays of Southern Thailand. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Chongkittavorn, Kavi. “Thailand: International Terrorism and the Muslim South.” In Southeast Asian Affairs, eds., Daljit Singh and Chin Kin Wah, 267-275. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004.

Croissant, Aurel. “Unrest in South Thailand: Contours, Causes and Consequences Since 2001,” Contemporary Southeast Asia, 27:1 (2005): 21–43.

Desker, Barry. “Islam in Southeast Asia: The Challenge of Radical Interpretation,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 16 (2003): 415–28.

Farouk, Omar. “The Historical and Transnational Dimensions of Malay-Muslim Separatism in Southern Thailand.” In Armed Separatism in Southeast Asia, eds., Lim Joo-Jock and S. Vani, 234-257. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004.

Formichi, Chiara and Michael Feener. Shi‘ism in South East Asia: ‘Alid Piety and Sectarian Constructions. London: C. Hurst Publishers, 2014.

Gopinath, A. “International Aspects of the Thai Muslim and the Philippine Moro Issues: A Comparative Study.” In Internationalization of Ethnic Conflict, eds., K.M. de Silva and R.J. May. London: Pinter Publishers, 1991.

Harish. S. P. “Ethnic or Religious Cleavage? Investigating the Nature of the Conflict in Southern Thailand,” Contemporary Southeast Asia, 28:1 (2006): 48-69.

Stark, Jan. “Muslims in the Philippines,” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 23:1 (2003): 195-210.

Joll, Christopher. “Religion and Conflict in Southern Thailand: Beyond Rounding Up the Usual Suspects,” Contemporary Southeast Asia, 32:2 (2010): 258-279.

Liow, Joseph C. “The Security Situation in Southern Thailand: Toward an Understanding of Domestic and International Dimensions,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 27:6 (2004: 531-548.

____________. “Islamic Education in Thailand: Negotiating Islam, Identity and Modernity,” Southeast Asia Education Survey, National Bureau of Research (2005): 121-149.

McCargo, Duncan. “Buddhism, Democracy and Identity in Thailand,” Democratization, 11:4 (2004): 155-170.

Zarni, Maung and Alice Cowley. "The Slow-burning Genocide of Myanmar's Rohingya," Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, 23:3 (2014): 681-752.

3. General Works on Religion and Peace & Conflict

Abu-Nimer, Mohammed. Non-Violence and Peacebuilding in Islam. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

Ambuel, David and Mehdi Amin Razavi. Philosophy, Religion, and the Question of Intolerance. New York: State University of New York Press, 1997.

Appleby, R. Scott. The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation. Lanham; Boulder; New York and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Arinze, Cardinal Francis. Religions for Peace: A Call for Solidarity to the Religions of the World. New York: Doubleday, 2002.

Armstrong, Karen. The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. London: HarperCollins, 2000.

Asad, Talal. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1993.

Avruch, K. Culture and Conflict Resolution. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1998.

Avruch, K., Black, P., and Scimecca, J. Conflict Resolution: Cross Cultural Perspectives. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1991.

Azar, E. The Management of Protracted Social Conflict: Theory and Cases. Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1990.

Berdal, M., and Malone, D., eds. Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000.

Berger, Peter L., ed. The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Washington DC, Grand Rapids: Ethics and Public Policy Center / William B. Eerdmans, 1999.

Bouta, Tsjeard, S. Ayse Kadayific-Orellana and Mohammed Abu-Nimer. Faith-Based Peace-Building: Mapping and Analysis of Christian, Muslim and Multi-Faith Actors. Netherlands & Washington, DC: Netherlands, 2005.

Broadhead, Philip and Damien Keown. Can Faiths Make Peace? Holy Wars and the Resolution of Religious Conflicts. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007.

Burleigh, Michael. Sacred Causes: Religion and Politics from the European Dictators to Al Qaeda. London: Harper Perennial, 2006, 2007.

Cavanaugh, William T. The Myth of Religious Violence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Charbonneau, Bruno and Geneviève Parent. Peacebuilding, Memory and Reconciliation: Bridging Top-down and Bottom-up Approaches. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Chirwa, W. "Collective Memory and the Process of Reconciliation and Reconstruction," Development in Practice, 7 (1997): 479-82.

Collier, P. “Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and their Implications for Policy.” In Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, edited by Chester Crocker et al., pp. 143-62. Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace Press, 2001.

Coward, H., and Smith, G., eds. Religion and Peacebuilding. New York: State University of New York Press, 2004.

Dark, Ken R., ed. Religion and International Relations. London: MacMillan, 2000.

Dayton, B. W. and Kriesberg, L., eds. Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding: Moving from Violence to Sustainable Peace. London: Routledge, 2009.

Duffey, Michael K. and Deborah S. Nash. Justice and Mercy will Kiss: the Vocation of Peacemaking in a World of Many Faiths. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2008.

Ehrenkranz, Joseph H. Religion and Violence, Religion and Peace. Fairfield, CT: Sacred Heart University Press, 2000.

El Fadl, K. The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 

Esposito, John L. and Michael Watson, eds. Religion and Global Order. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000.

Gort, Jerald D., H. Jansen and Hendrick M. Vroom. Religion, Conflict and Reconciliation: Multifaith Ideals and Realities. New York: Rodopi, 2002.

Halliday, Fred. Nation and Religion in the Middle East. London: Saqi, 2000.

Haynes, Jeff. Religion in Global Politics. London: Longman, 1998.

Helmick, Raymond G. and Rodney L. Petersen. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Religion, Public Policy & Conflict Transformation. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2001.

Hinnells, John and Richard King, eds. Religion and Violence in South Asia: Theory and  Practice. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Huda, Qamar-Ul. Crescent and Dove: Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2010.

Jerryson, Michael and Mark Juergensmeyer, eds. Buddhist Warfare.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Juergensmeyer, Mark, ed. Violence and the Sacred in the Modern World. London: Frank Cass, 1991.

____________________. The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

____________________. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, 3rd edn. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001, 2003.


Lawrence, Bruce B.  Shattering the Myth: Islam Beyond Violence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Lederach, John Paul. Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 1997.

Marsden, Lee. The Ashgate Research Companion to Religion and Conflict Resolution. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012.

McConnell, J. Mindful Mediation: A Handbook for Buddhist Peacemakers. Bangkok: Buddhist Research Institute, 1995.

McTernan, Oliver. Violence in God’s Name: Religion in an Age of Conflict. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2003.

Mitchell, Jolyon P. Promoting Peace, Inciting Violence: the Role of Religion and Media. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Derek Peterson and Darren Walhof, eds. The Invention of Religion: Rethinking Belief in Politics and History. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003.

Philpott, Daniel. The Politics of Past Evil: Religion, Reconciliation, and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006.

Rothman, J. Resolving Identity-Based Conflicts in Nations, Organizations, and Communities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997.

Sahliyeh, Emile, ed. Religious Resurgence and Politics in the Contemporary World. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

Said, Abdul A., Nathan C. Funk, and Ayse Kadayifici. Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam: Precept and Practice. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001.

Selengut, Charles. Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

Seiple, Robert A. and Dennis Hoover. Religion and Security: the New Nexus in International Relations. Lanham; Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.

Sisk, Timothy D. Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011.

Smith, Gordon S. and Harold Coward, eds. Religion and Peacebuilding. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004.

Smock, David R. Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2002.

____________. Religious Contributions to Peacemaking: When Religion Brings Peace, Not War. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2006.

Thomas, Scott M. The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty-First Century. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Wentz, Richard E. Why People do Bad Things in the Name of Religion. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1993.

Williams, Rowan. The Truce of God: Peacemaking in Troubled Times. Norwich: Canterbury, 2005.

Van Bruinessen, M. "Genealogies of Islamic Radicalism in Post-Suharto Indonesia," South East Asia Research, 10:2 (2002): 117–154.

Yegar, Moshe. Between Integration and Secession: The Muslim Communities of the Southern Philippines, Southern Thailand and Western Burma/Myanmar. Oxford: Lexington Books, 2002.


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