Ruling Islamists’ Approaches to Minorities in Sudan and Turkey

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Daoud, Dalal
Islamists , Ethnic Minorities , Turkey , Sudan , Kurds , Darfuris , South Sudanese
Ruling Islamists’ interactions with ethnic minorities have been largely understudied and undertheorized. This research study examines ruling Islamists’ treatment of minorities, asking two questions. The first question is how do ruling Islamists treat minorities? And the second is what explains their treatments? To the extent that extant literature addresses these questions, it offers cultural-based explanations that stress the role of religious affiliation, suggesting that Islamists are more likely to accommodate co-Muslim ethnic minorities, and exclude, or perhaps repress, non-Muslim others. This dissertation sets to address its questions through investigating Islamists’ approaches to the animist and Christian South Sudanese and Muslim Darfuri minorities in Sudan, as well as the Muslim Kurdish minority in Turkey. In contrast to what the ideational-centric literature expects, this research study has found that in both Sudan and Turkey Islamists lacked a coherent approach toward minorities. Rather, their strategies changed across time toward the groups examined between accommodative and repressive or vice versa. In addition to the presence of within-group diachronic variations, the case of Sudan also demonstrated across-group co-temporal variations in the treatment of minorities. Since governing Islamists shifted their approaches toward all minority groups, despite differences in the groups’ religious affiliations, this study refutes the ideational-centric analysis. Instead, this research has found political strategic calculus to have had a considerable influence in shaping Islamists’ policies toward their respective minorities. This strategic calculus was shaped by two factors. The first was the necessity of building domestic alliances, which was largely an outcome of the strategic interactions between actors, including intra-Islamists’ interactions, and the varying formal and informal structures in place. The second factor involved the regional and international dynamics that influenced the minority groups’ participation in domestic alliances through affecting their strategic capacity. While domestic actors’ strategic interactions affected the need for alliance-building, regional and international dynamics affected the configuration of such alliances by influencing the desire of potential minority groups to participate as allies.
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