Sectarian fault lines in the Middle East

Sources of conflicts, or of communal bonds?

Authored by: Keiko Sakai , Kota Suechika

Routledge Handbook of Middle East Politics

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138047631
eBook ISBN: 9781315170688
Adobe ISBN:


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The sectarian master narrative has been constructed around major political developments in the Middle East during past four decades; Islamic revolution in Iran, US invasion of Iraq and emergence of IS. We discuss how the notion of ‘sectarian-ness’ has been transformed into an instrument of political mobilization, focusing on the sectarian fault line between Sunni and Shi‘ite. Debates on the sectarian fault line began as the study of ShiÊ»ites as an oppressed group, then developed into the study of sectarian relations involving ‘the oppressed’. Thus the sectarianism is not something pre-set, and the term ‘sectarianism’ is no more suitable or useful as an analytical term.

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