Lebanon and Iraq: Two Distinct Demonstrations of Confessionalism’s Failure as a Means to Manage Ethnic and Religious Pluralism

Authors

  • Nour Mohsen

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.26443/firr.v11i2.74

Abstract

The Iraqi and Lebanese political systems stemmed from each country’s distinctive mosaic of sub-national identities but have been deemed corrupt and incompetent, prompting ongoing protests and calls for unity in both contexts. However, this dissatisfaction is unsurprising given the challenging task of translating the ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity that characterizes each population into an overarching national identity. The Lebanese and Iraqi political systems have attempted to manage ethnic and religious pluralism through confessionalism, or a “consociational government which distributes political and institutional power proportionally among religious sub-communities.” This paper argues that Lebanon and Iraq are two specific examples of confessionalism, demonstrating its failure to manage ethnic and religious pluralism, which seems to inevitably beget sectarianism—a discriminatory structure in which each group advances its privileges at the expense of others. Nevertheless, confessional systems are challenging to transform, namely because they institutionalize different ethnic or religious groups’ identities instead of promoting a unified, national identity. 



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Published

2021-11-05

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Section

Articles