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

"Citizenship and Its Discontents" is a project at The Century Foundation focused on religious minorities and citizenship in the Middle East. Its new website gathers reports, interviews, and podcasts from some of the world’s leading experts and activists that discuss recent attacks on pluralism and how the cause for universal rights might be advanced.


The fate of minorities is a critical matter as the Middle East experiences a generational political rupture. Pluralism and rights are under threat from violent conflict as well as from religious and identity politics. Our two-year project at The Century Foundation, generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, aims to produce original ideas that can shift the policy and public debate.

How do religious and non-religious minorities envision their future in the region? On what basis can communities enjoy citizenship or seek rights in an era when law increasingly draws on religion and majoritarianism for its legitimacy?

As governments in the Middle East and in the West promote a simplistic discourse that opposes secularism and unhelpfully portrays contemporary conflicts as Muslims-versus-Christians or Sunni-versus-Shia, addressing the question of belonging is more urgent than ever. The reports and dialogue in this initiative draw on extensive fieldwork, and aim to open a new line of discussion in the region as well as among Western policymakers.

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