This introduction explores some of the factors governing why the issue of multiculturalism and minority rights has been relatively neglected, if not suppressed, in the Arab world, and why it is now emerging as a central issue for the region. It begins with an overview of the range of minorities found in the Arab world, and then examines the historical factors that shape minority politics in the region. These include the contested legacies of Islamic doctrines of the dhimmi and the Ottoman millet system, colonial-era divide-and-rule strategies, and post-colonial Arab nationalism. While some commentators think these factors pre-determine an ‘Arab exceptionalism’ to global trends to multiculturalism, the essays in this volume suggest that these factors are not exceptional in the post-colonial world, and nor do they preclude the prospects for new forms of multicultural citizenship. The introduction concludes with an overview of the chapters
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