The Alawites of Syria

The costs of minority rule

Authored by: Leon T. Goldsmith

Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138649040
eBook ISBN: 9781315626031
Adobe ISBN:


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The internal dynamics of the Syrian crisis of 2011–2018 have much to do with identity politics and the relations between the so-called minority and majority populations. Yet, little reliable scholarship exists on Syria’s largest and most influential minority, the Alawite Islamic sect. 1 Ba’athist co-optation, censorship and repression over the last half-century muted almost all independent political expression by minority groups. However, the fragmentation of the Syrian state since 2011 has allowed the emergence of groups and individuals claiming to be representative of minority views and interests. The present state of scholarship on Syrian minorities, and in particular the Alawites, therefore, stands at an important departure point. Keeping in mind that much work is required to tap these [re]emerging sources, this chapter gives a brief introduction to the defining characteristics of the Alawites, efforts to integrate them into a Syrian nation-state, and major challenges facing the Alawite community going forward.

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