Cover image for Minorities in the Middle East : a history of struggle and self-expression
Minorities in the Middle East : a history of struggle and self-expression
Nisan, Mordechai.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 341 pages : map ; 23 cm
Introduction: the Middle Eastern mosaic -- Kurds: a legacy of struggle and suffering -- Berbers: between rebellion and submission -- Baluch: from obscurity to geostrategic importance -- Druzes: freedom without independence -- ʻAlawites: to power and the unknown -- Copts: from majority people to minority religion -- Armenians: talent, tragedy, and territorial loss -- Assyrians: an ancient people, a perennial struggle -- Maronites: sophistication and missed opportunities -- Sudanese Christians: tribulations and war in Black Africa -- Jews: Zionist achievement, lingering question -- Jews, Israel, and the minorities.

The Middle Eastern mosaic -- States and nations -- Minorities in the Middle East -- The debate about minorities -- Principles and means of conict resolution -- Muslim minorities -- Kurds -- Berbers -- Baluch -- Heterodox Muslim minorities -- -- Druzes -- ʻAlawites -- Christian minorities -- Copts -- Armenians -- Assyrians -- Maronites -- Sudanese Christians -- Jews, Israel, and other Middle Eastern minorities -- Zionist achievement -- Judaism -- Toward Jewish independence -- Jews, Israel, and the minorities -- Elusiveness of political rule.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS58 .N57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The struggle for independence by minorities in the Middle East (those people who are non-Arab or non-Muslim) is affecting the political climate around the world. War and terrorism are threatening the safety of many minority communities and repression of minorities still remains standard state policy in some countries. This updated and revised edition of the 1991 original provides a wealth of historical and political detail for all the indigenous peoples of the Middle East. Pressed to persist in a threatening environment, these minorities (Kurds, Berbers, Baluchi, Druzes, 'Alawites, Armenians, Assyrians, Maronites, Sudanese Christians, Jews, Egyptian Copts, and others) share similar experiences and have been known to cooperate for shared goals. Important events and new trends regarding the welfare of these groups are covered, and numerous oral histories add to the new edition. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here .

Author Notes

Mordechai Nisan teaches Middle East studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the Rothberg International School

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The Middle East is a kaleidoscope of competing ethnic groups. This informative volume by a scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem seeks to examine the struggle for self-determination by many of these ethnic groups in the region. The strength of the book lies in the breadth of its coverage of minorities in the Middle East. Individual chapters describe the condition of such Muslim minorities as the Kurds, Berbers, Baluchis, Druzes, and Alawites. The author also explains the history of Christian minorities, such as the Copts, Assyrians, Armenians, Maronites, and the Sudanese Christians. However, Nisan's occasional gratuitous attacks on the Arabs and Islam detract from the book's objectivity. Useful for informed readers and scholars of ethnicity and Middle Eastern studies.-- Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, Ala. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Nisan (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) briefly reviews the history and current circumstances of 11 regional minorities. These include three Muslim peoples (Kurds, Berbers, Baluch), two heterodox Muslim groups (Druzes and 'Alawites), five Christian minorities (Copts, Armenians, Assyrians, Maronites, and Southern Sudanese), and the Jews. The author judges these minorities to have ethnic and cultural particularity, geographic rootedness, and historical tradition, and he treats each of them sympathetically. At the same time, however, he makes a point of denying these qualities to only one specific group, namely, the Palestinian Arabs. He portrays the Arab Muslims (the majority with whom he lumps the Palestinians) as the primary bogey of the other groups, and he implies that they might still be considered "foreign conquerors" in the region. Judgments of this sort, as well as occasional echoes of Cold War rhetoric, pervade the work and lead Nisan into factual errors and omissions that undercut the value of an otherwise impressive fund of information. General, community college, and undergraduate readers.-L. M. Lewis, Eastern Kentucky University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
1 Introduction: The Middle Eastern Mosaicp. 3
States and Nationsp. 9
Minorities in the Middle Eastp. 13
The Debate About Minoritiesp. 21
Principles and Means of Conflict Resolutionp. 23
Part I Muslim Minorities
2 Kurds: A Legacy of Struggle and Sufferingp. 33
Kurdish Life Under Islamp. 34
Toward Independence in Kurdistanp. 37
The Mahabad Episodep. 40
Liberation as Rebellionp. 41
Kurdish Persistence and Powerlessnessp. 46
Self-Rule and National Division in the 1990sp. 51
3 Berbers: Between Rebellion and Submissionp. 54
Religiously Syncretic, Communally Exoticp. 55
The French Invasion and Berber Militancyp. 60
The Episode of Riffian Independencep. 61
Kabylia and the Front de Liberation National (FLN)p. 64
Arab Statehood and the Berbersp. 66
New Circumstances and Old Problemsp. 73
4 Baluch: From Obscurity to Geostrategic Importancep. 76
Toward Independence in Baluchistanp. 77
State Repression and International Opportunityp. 80
Between Afghanistan and the Persian Gulfp. 85
Part II Heterodox Muslim Minorities
5 Druzes: Freedom Without Independencep. 93
Religion and Its Preceptsp. 95
Druze Warfare Within and Withoutp. 98
Druze Particularity in Mideast Statesp. 102
Survival Without Sovereigntyp. 112
6 'Alawites: To Power and the Unknownp. 114
Mysterious Sectarianismp. 115
'Alawite Statehood and the Frenchp. 118
Military Professionalism, Political Pretensionsp. 119
The Assad Regimep. 122
An Uncertain Gamblep. 128
Part III Christian Minorities
7 Copts: From Majority People to Minority Religionp. 133
Religious and Communal Identityp. 134
During the French and British Yearsp. 138
Facing Islam, Arabism, and Egyptian Independencep. 141
Insecurity and Abandonmentp. 147
8 Armenians: Talent, Tragedy, and Territorial Lossp. 156
Christianity and National Characterp. 157
Toward Independence in Armeniap. 162
The First Genocide of the Twentieth Centuryp. 167
Dispersion and Statehoodp. 172
Revenge, Not Revolutionp. 174
9 Assyrians: An Ancient People, a Perennial Strugglep. 180
Facing Antiquity, Christianity, and Islamp. 181
The Church, Facing East and Westp. 183
Toward Assyrian Independence and Failurep. 186
Dispersion and Revitalizationp. 190
10 Maronites: Sophistication and Missed Opportunitiesp. 195
Lebanon's European Connectionp. 196
Ottoman Days, Maronite Nightsp. 200
Toward Independence in Lebanonp. 204
Between Statehood and Sectarianismp. 207
Maronite Decline and the Lebanese Warp. 213
Syrian Occupation and Israeli Withdrawalp. 220
11 Sudanese Christians: Tribulations and War in Black Africap. 223
Christianity in the Junglep. 224
Southern Subjugation and Slaveryp. 225
British Rule: Toward Southern Freedom and Backp. 229
Sudanese Independence and Southern Rebellionp. 231
War: Religious, Regional, and Russian Factorsp. 236
Change and Continuity in the Southern Strugglep. 240
Part IV Jews, Israel, and Other Middle Eastern Minorities
12 Jews: Zionist Achievement, Lingering Questionp. 249
Judaism: A Religion and a Nationalityp. 250
The Everlasting Homelandp. 253
Survival Despite Dispersionp. 255
Toward Jewish Independence in Eretz-Israelp. 259
The Key to Zionist Successp. 263
The Dhimmi Syndromep. 265
The Problematics of Arab Oppositionp. 268
13 Jews, Israel, and the Minoritiesp. 272
The Middle Eastern Minority Equationp. 272
Mythology and Memorabiliap. 276
Minority Connectionsp. 278
14 Conclusionsp. 296
The Elusiveness of Political Rule: A Comparisonp. 298
Minority Mobilization and the Crusader Casep. 301
Minority Particularity and the Israeli Casep. 304
Peoples and State Across the Regionp. 305
The Middle East and the Worldp. 307
Notesp. 311
Select Bibliographyp. 337
Name Indexp. 339