Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone, du 19 au 24 julliet 2010


The Politics of Citizenship in the Middle East (244) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Calgary (Canada)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Tareq Y. Ismael

· NOT_DEFINED sponsor: International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, IACIS

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: National citizenship as a basis of identity in the Arab and Muslim world is marked by several dilemmas. Frequently the role of national minorities, whether ethnic or religious, is not fully defined, particularly in environments where the basis of national ideology centers on ethnic nationalism or religious tradition. Likewise, Muslim minorities within non-Muslim states, particularly in the Global North, frequently balance their identities as citizens within the country where they reside alongside their identity as a member of the larger Muslim ummah. Also, demands for political reform invoke questions of a nation’s character and the popular will of the people, invoking questions of national identity and status.
In these essays, the boundaries, functions, and representations of citizenship and identity are questioned; the authors’, respectively, examine difficult claims surrounding citizenship, whether of national minorities, transnational communities, or of the politicized claims of ethno-religious groups.

Chair: Haifa Zangana (International Association for Contemporary Iraqi Studies, IACIS)

Paper presenter: Mehmoona Mitha (University of Victoria, Canada), “Trans-national identities and the ethics of citizenship”
Citizenship, both as everyday practice and as entitlement to a set of legal rights, is Janus-faced in nature demarcating at one stroke the lines of inclusions and exclusions of membership within nation states. This is particularly difficult in the case of communities, such as the Muslim ummah, which makes identity claims that are transnational in character. This paper will examine some of the tensions (ethical) that exist for Muslim feminists who live and are citizens of countries in the Global North wishing to work in solidarity with Muslim feminists who live and are citizens of countries in the Global South. It will ask the question ‘what is transnational activism’ and ‘what are ethics that inform it.’

Paper presenter: Moncef Khaddar (Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus), “Inter-communal Relations in the 21st century: The case of the ‘Jewish majority’ and the ‘Arab minority’ in Israel”
This paper reviews the recent developments affecting the economic, legal and political status of the Palestinians as Arab minority citizens of Israel. Their denomination, not as a national minority by the State of Israel but rather as ‘minorities’, ‘non- Jewish’, ‘Arab citizens of Israel’, ‘Arab Israeli sector’, ‘Muslim Arabs’, ‘Christian Arabs’, including ‘Bedouins’, ‘Circassians’ for instance, and distinguishing them from the ‘Druze’ as a separate political category, will be questioned. This official categorization will be examined and contrasted with the self-definition by the ‘Arab Israeli/Israeli Arabs’ who constitute around 20% of Israel’s total population and similarly the same percentage of ‘the Palestinian people’, at large, mainly living in the ‘occupied territories’. Most of the diverse populations of Israel with its different ethnic, religious, cultural and national backgrounds were living in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel where currently many of their descendants reside. Although the Arab population of Israel represents nearly 20% of its total inhabitants, the government allocates less than 7% of the Ministries budgets to the Arab Israelis. Lack of development in the Arab local councils is exemplified dramatically, for a population residing mainly in towns and villages, by insufficient educational facilities, poor public transportation, outdated infrastructures, and low level of industry. Poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment are becoming the hallmark of the Arab Israeli community. It is common knowledge that approximately one half of Arab Children in Israel live below the poverty line. However when it comes to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Arab minority, the Israeli westernized establishment reminds its critics, with a sarcastic and ethnocentric complex of superiority, of the deplorable human rights records in the Arab World.
In Israel there is no Basic Law that guarantees equality for all citizens without discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnicity besides the binding effect of the few international human rights instruments already ratified by Israel. This state of affairs, combined with the definition of Israel as a ‘Jewish State’, as well as the exemption of the Arab minority from military service, seems to permit and explain the prevalence of a system of structural and institutional discrimination against Arab citizens. Thus many laws, justified by a political linkage between citizens’ rights and duties, exclude the Arab minority from specific rights given to the ‘Jewish people’.

Paper presenter: Gamal Selim (University of Calgary, Canada), “Integration into the Global Economy and the Prospects for Democratic Development in Egypt”
This paper seeks to assess the impact of Egypt’s integration into the global economy, which has been made possible through the World Bank and IMF economic reform and structural adjustment programmes (ERSAP), on the prospects for democratic development in the country. Contemporary development discourse has constructed structural adjustment and economic liberalization as conducive to democratization in developing countries. According to the advocates of this link, greater economic liberalization will lead to greater political liberalization and ultimately democratization in developing countries. This paper will examine the degree to which this assumed process is happening in Egypt.
In this context, the paper will adopt a perspective on democratization that is relevant to developing countries, including Egypt, and will examine the challenges facing the institutionalization of democratic regimes in these countries. This perspective goes beyond the mainstream liberal conception of democracy which – through its emphasis on political rights to the exclusion of economic and social rights – offers a less adequate theory of democracy for developing countries.
Essentially, Egypt’s integration into the global capitalist economy through ERSAP has had a negative impact on the prospects for democratization in the country. ERSAP have also proved to be a destabilizing factor in Egypt’s democratic development by turning the requirements of economic liberalization and democracy into two opposing and irreconcilable processes. Given the socio-economic effect of structural adjustment on Egyptian society, the implementation of the ERSAP has been facilitated by the repression of political and civil rights in Egypt.

Paper presenter: Sami Ofeish (Balamand University, Lebanon), “Interests of Sectarian Elites: An Obstacle to Reform”
Although the various sectarian-based Lebanese political contenders frequently pay lip service in support of political reform, they directly and indirectly invoke the defence of sectarian interests as a means to benefit and justify their communal privileges and opposition to political reform. The paper will address the case of electoral reforms proposed from 2006 onward to show how those contenders have blocked major reforms including: proportional representation, lowering the voting age, and facilitating the voting of expatriates in their countries of residence. Proportional representation was rejected under the claim that it will weaken traditional sectarian leaders in their electoral districts and erode sectarian solidarity within their respective communities, while lowering the voting age and extending voting rights to expatriates was rejected on the basis that it demographically favors certain sectarian communities over others. The debate over the reforms was intensified in the last two years as a result of the parliamentary elections held in June 2009 and the municipal elections scheduled for May 2010. Sectarianism in Lebanon is a major tool to facilitate interests of sectarian-based elite and to justify their policies.

Paper presenter: Philip Marfleet (Reader in Refugee Studies at the University of East London, UK), "Politics of displacement: learning from Iraq’s refugees"
The scale of forced migration in and from Iraq since 2003 is unprecedented. Every area of the country has been affected, with profound impacts upon the whole society. Despite efforts to promote mass return, most refugees and Internally Displaced People remain far from their former homes. This paper examines the implications of protracted displacement – for refugees and IDPs, and for analyses of state and society in Iraq at a time of continuing instability.