Citizenship and Its Discontents: The Struggle for Rights, Pluralism and Inclusion in the Middle East

Citizenship and Its Discontents: The Struggle for Rights, Pluralism and Inclusion in the Middle East


All around the world Pluralism and rights are under threat communal violence, authoritarianism, and religious identity politics have eroded the value of citizenship. Nowhere is this crisis more urgent than in the Middle East. That’s why The Century Foundation, with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, recently convened some of the world’s leading experts to start a new conversation about inclusive citizenship. Our research looks at ideas that support universal rights for all regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality. We explore alternatives to sectarianism and consider ways to protect religious minorities without reducing people to their religious identity. We revive a tradition of secularism and liberalism which thrived even in the Middle East’s most challenging times. That forgotten history holds powerful lessons for those in the region and beyond who today want to promote universal equal rights. The experiments underway in the Middle East can help America, Europe, and other societies grapple with their own increasingly divisive politics and alarming racist and authoritarian movements. We hope our research in Citizenship and Its Discontents sparks public discussion and More importantly puts universal rights exactly where they belong: at the center of global policy debate.

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