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The New Sectarianism

Geneive Abdo

Published in print January 2017 | ISBN: 9780190233143
Published online December 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190233174 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190233143.001.0001
The New Sectarianism

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The Shi’a–Sunni conflict is one of the most significant outcomes arising from the Arab rebellions. Yet, there is little understanding of who is driving this tension and the underlying causes. By delving deeply into the historical factors leading up to the present-day conflict, The New Sectarianism sheds new light on how Shi’a and Sunni perceive one another after the Arab uprisings, how these perceptions have affected the Arab world, and why the dream of a pan-Islamic awakening is misplaced. A historical backdrop is presented that serves as a counterpoint to Western media coverage of the so-called Arab Spring. Already by the 1970s, Shi’a and Sunni communities had begun to associate their religious beliefs and practices with personal identity, replacing their fragile loyalty to the nation state. By the time the Arab risings erupted into their full fury in early 2011, there was fertile ground for instability. So, what does religion have to do with it? This sectarian conflict is often presented by the West as rivalry over land use, political power, or access to education. However, in this volume, it is argued persuasively that the conflict must be understood as flowing directly from religious difference and the associated identities that this difference has conferred on both Shi’a and Sunni. In these regions, religion matters, not only in how it is used by extremists, moderate Islamists, and dictators alike for political purposes, but also how it evolves perpetually and is perceived and practiced among the vast majority of Muslims.

Keywords: Arab uprisings; Islam; Shi’a–Sunni conflict; sectarianism

Book.  264 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Islam

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Lebanon in The New Sectarianism

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