The Roots of the Arab Spring   /   Fall 2011   /    Short Takes

Religious Freedom in the Arab World

At a dinner for over 150  Christian and Jewish trusts held in late August, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of  Turkey, made an extraordinary announcement: the Turkish government  will  return hundreds of properties  confiscated  from religious  minori- ties since the 1930s. This is a long overdue and welcome step. With new regimes emerging in the Arab world, one might also hope it will be an example for them of  the just treatment of religious minorities.

In   E gypt,  c onc erns  about  resurgent Islamism have been fueled by the new polit- ical  prominence of  the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. Since the fall  of  Mubarak, there have been attacks on the country’s reli- gious minorities. Coptic Christians have been the most frequent targets, but Sufis and other minority populations have also been harassed. In April,  the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended for the first time that Egypt be considered a “country  of particular concern.”

To read the full article online, please login to your account or subscribe to our digital edition ($25 yearly). Prefer print? Order back issues or subscribe to our print edition ($30 yearly).