The unique role of religion in Middle Eastern ethnic conflict: A large-n study

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There has always been a common perception that religion and politics are particularly and uniquely intertwined in Middle Eastern culture. While the anecdotal evidence for this perception is overwhelming, there have been few cross-sectional, large-n studies which have attempted to confirm this perception and explain why this close connection between religion and politics in the Middle East exists. Accordingly, this study uses the Minorities at Risk dataset to test this perception with regard to ethnic conflicts by comparing ethnic conflicts in the Middle East to those occurring in the rest of the world. The results show that on all measures used here, religion is at least twice as powerful an influence on Middle Eastern ethnic conflicts as it is on such conflicts in the rest of the world. However, other than this, Middle Eastern ethnic conflicts are not distinguishable from ethnic conflicts occurring elsewhere. These results hold up even when controlling for the region's Islamic and autocratic nature.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)113-131
JournalTurkish Policy Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004


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