Experiments in Multi-Ethnic and Multi-Religious Democracy

by Vickie Langohr
published in MER237

Democracy’s succinct definition, and perhaps its best attribute, is majority rule. But it is unclear that majority rule equates to democracy in places like Lebanon, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries that are contending with past and present religious or ethnic conflict. Clearly, democracy in such diverse societies would minimally require that citizens of all ethnic and religious backgrounds enjoy the same civil and human rights; it would also require that the government refrain from religious or ethnic persecution. A democracy should also allow its citizens to practice their faith or express their cultural traditions, provided such practices do not contradict other fundamental values the state is bound to uphold.

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