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Tolerating Alternative Voices in Islam: Prospects for Pluralism and Democracy in the Muslim World

Posted: 29 Mar 2010  

Ani Sarkissian

Michigan State University Dept. of Political Science

Abstract

Are there limits to the expression of Islam in Muslim majority countries? This paper presents evidence from Muslim-majority countriesラfocusing in particular on Turkey and Central Asiaラto demonstrate that minority Muslim movements are restricted in both secular and religious Islamic countries due to official restrictions against religious expression. I find that intolerance of dissenting or alternative Muslim voices is a result of state-centered policies that attempt to control all aspects of religious expression by formulating a single official version of Islam. I thus conclude that religious conflicts in majority Muslim countries are less a result of sectarian tensions and instead indicative of the nature of power relations. Struggles over the distribution of resources in the developing world contribute to the unequal treatment of both Muslim and non-Muslim minorities, and continue the pattern of authoritarian rule that persists across much of the Muslim world.

Suggested Citation

Sarkissian, Ani, Tolerating Alternative Voices in Islam: Prospects for Pluralism and Democracy in the Muslim World. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1580282

Ani Sarkissian (Contact Author)

Michigan State University Dept. of Political Science ( email )

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