This article investigates how and when regime transitions intensify minority discrimination through an analysis of two types of religious persecution following the Arab uprisings. We argue that weakened institutions and the prevalence of religious outbidding during political transitions make societal-based religious discrimination (SRD) more likely to increase than government-based religious discrimination (GRD). This is because social divisions are often exacerbated and social unrest difficult to contain, while at the same time, policy change can be difficult to enact and enforce. We test these claims through a mixed-methods research design. Employing a synthetic control method, the cross-national, quantitative analysis from 1990 to 2014 confirms that GRD has not changed since the Arab uprisings, while SRD has substantially increased in those countries (i.e. Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia) that also experienced regime change. A case study of Egypt provides more direct evidence of the institutional and outbidding mechanisms. The qualitative analysis draws on ethnographic research conducted in Cairo during 2014, which includes in-depth interviews with Coptic Orthodox Christians. Our findings underscore the twin challenge of protecting and accommodating minority religions during periods of political transition.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.