Dr. Leila Nicolas
Paper to be presented at ISA conference " Human Rights in an Age of Ambiguity" in "Minority and Indigenous Rights" panel, Fordham University, NYC, 13- 15 June, 2016.
The minorities’ issue in the Arab world is not new. It started during the rule of Ottoman Empire, which practiced the “ahl-dhimmah” status on non- Muslim minorities; a status that regarded non- Muslims residents in the territory of Islam as second class citizens. It worsened till it reached its peak during WWI where the ottomans committed genocides against Assyrians, Armenians and other religious minorities. Similarly, during the Arab uprisings and the rise of extremism,"ISIS", "Al- Nusra front" and other terrorist groups practiced persecution, extrajudicial killings, sexual assault and abduction against people belonging to ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
In the first part, we will give a brief historical background of the minority presence and status in the political and social systems since the ottoman rule till the Arab uprisings. In the second part, we will draw a sketch of the minorities' status at the legal, power and demographic levels in each of the countries that constitute the Arab Levant; Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine; emphasizing on the first three states due to their security issues and turbulence. The third part will reveal the findings of our survey, that was conducted with people belonging to minority groups in these countries. Finally, we conclude trying to predict the future of minorities in this region, based on each of the scenarios that has been evoked lately.