Civil society is identified as a key partner for the European Union (EU) and receiver of financial support in the European Neighbourhood Policy, as civil society is closest to the citizen’s needs, for example in terms of human rights. However, the existing body of research questions whether such aspirations for human rights are compatible with the EU’s main priority in neighbourhood, stabilization.
Put ‘Minorities in the Middle East’ into any search engine and a huge volume of articles are displayed insinuating that ethnic, tribal, family and sectarian affiliations are the only relevant factors needed to aid an understanding of the politics and societies of the Maghreb and Mashreq. Be it the often praised ‘mosaic’ of multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies, or the explanation and anticipation of actual and potential conflicts in the Middle East, that are shaped by ethnic, tribal or confessional affiliations, the reading has a flavour of exoticism and orientalism. So for this issue of Perspectives, we decided to ask authors in a broader sense about minority-majority relationships that can, but do not necessarily have to, tackle ethnic or confessional subjects.