Religious Minorities in the Middle East

Religious Minorities in the Middle East

The Middle East is largely Muslim but it’s also the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions. Many non-Muslims have left in recent decades, leaving relatively small populations of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects.

Now, the rise of Islamist political parties in the Mideast raises questions about the rights and protections such minorities can expect or whether they can expect them at all.

Produced by Joseph Braude, Nadeen Shaker, the team at Tunisia Live, A.C. Valdez and Jonathon Zinger / Web Producer: Javier Barrera / Photos: Marcus F. BenignoSeth Frantzman (via Flickr), and spdl_n1 (via Flickr) /Host: Katherine Lanpher / Length: 51 minutes / Airdate: July 2012

Egypt's Coptic Christian community

Coptic Christians make up nearly ten percent of Egypt’s population. Will their rights be protected under Mohammed Morsi, the newly elected Islamist president? Nadeen Shaker reports from Cairo.

Syria's Alawi population

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and most top government officials are Alawis, a Shi’a-affiliated religious group that represents only 12% of the country’s populace. Katherine Lanpher talks with Jocelyne Cesari of Harvard University about Alawi beliefs and their role in Syrian society and politics.

Jewish life in Tunisia under Islamist rule

As one of the earliest Jewish settlements in the world, Tunisia was home to over 100,000 Jews in the mid-20th century. Today that number is less than 2,000. America Abroad reports from Tunisia on life for those who remain, and their hopes and concerns under the new moderately Islamist regime.

Declining religious diversity in the Middle East

The Middle East, once a region of great religious diversity, has in recent decades seen a mass emigration of minorities – now making it one of the most religiously monolithic regions in the world. Joseph Braude reports.

U.S. efforts to ensure religious freedom

What role should the U.S. play in ensuring religious freedom in the Middle East? Elliott Abrams, former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, talks with Katherine Lanpher about what the U.S. is and should be doing.

Should religious minorities be concerned about the rise of Islamist governments?

Katherine Lanpher discusses the issue with two professors, Saba Mahmood of the University of California, Berkeley, and Aomar Boum, of the University of Arizona.