Thursday, February 13, 2003

Minority Reports

An interesting post in the aforeunmentioned Gene Expression, on the role of religious minorities in the Middle East. The ruling classes all seem to be either religious or ethnic minorities.

I think too much can be made of this. After all practicing Catholics are a fairly small proportion of the British population, yet all three leaders of the political parties are practicing Papists (Iain Duncan Smith very much so, Charles Kennedy not so practicing, Tony Blair not yet Catholic). Within a lifetime much the same could be said for Episcopalians in America, and perhaps evangelical Christians will start to take the governing slack.

In any pluralistic nation (and with all those artificial nations, that's quite a few) a religious or cultural minority is likely to appear more dominant than their numbers of the population would permit. The same goes for the worlds of culture or commerce. That does not necesarily mean that they are going to be actually more powerful, as they may put their group consciousness behind their nationality.

This perhaps applies to the Ashkenazi Jews in Israel, the Xhosa-dominated ANC in South Africa or the Sunnis in Iraq - whereas the Alawites in Syria and the Nejdis in Saudi Arabia are quite different. But where to draw the line?

It is easy to see where a minority is, it's not so clear whether the minority's members care.


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