Religious Freedom, Authoritarianism, and Inter-Religious Conflict: A Theoretical Framework
14 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
In the past decade, there has been significant increase on the incidents of inter-religious violence in numerous Muslim-majority countries. The increased incidents of inter-religious conflicts in both societies received plenty of attention from scholars and policymakers alike. What are the underlying causes of these conflicts? How does past political alignment and alliances of different religious groups contribute to these conflicts? The rise of inter-religious violence in the Islamic World has often been attributed to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and revivalist Islamic social movements in the political realm of these countries. However, this study argues that Islamic fundamentalism is not sufficient in explaining the rise of inter-religious conflict in Muslim-majority countries. Instead, they occurred due to the coalitional pacts and alliances between Christian minorities to support authoritarian rulers that suppressed Muslim political activists in these countries.
A new theoretical framework to analyze the cause of inter-religious violence in the Islamic World is introduced in this essay. The theory proposes that religious minorities are making alliances with authoritarian regimes because they believe the regime could better protect its interests than a regime dominated by members of the dominant religion. However, their decision to ally with the ruling authoritarian regime will worsened its relations with the dominant majority religion in this society. As the authoritarian regime collapses, the likelihood of inter-religious conflict between religious minorities and the majority religion in this society will also increase as well. This study uses a comparative historical analysis of two Muslim-majority countries, Indonesia and Egypt, to find the empirical data to support the above theoretical arguments.
Keywords: Authoritarianism, inter-religious conflicts, fundamentalism, secularism, religious minorities, Egypt, Indonesia
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