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America Abroad: Religious Minorities in the Middle East
Airs Sunday, March 17 at 6 p.m.
Anchored by Ray Suarez
The Arab awakening has led to a rise in Islamist governments in the Middle East – raising concerns about the rights of religious minorities. The Middle East is largely Muslim but it’s also the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions. Many non-Muslims have left in recent decades, leaving relatively small populations of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects. Now, the rise of Islamist political parties in the Mideast raises questions about the rights and protections such minorities can expect or whether they can expect them at all. In this edition of America Abroad, we’ll learn about the Jewish population in Tunisia, and how they're faring under a new Islamist government there. We'll hear from Egypt about the Christian community and their reactions to a new president. And we'll provide a primer on Alawites, the minority Muslim sect to which Syria's president Bashar al-Assad belongs.
Uncertainty in Egypt Reporter Kimberly Adams takes us to Cairo, where Christians, Baha'is, and other religious minorities face an uncertain future under Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party. Syria's Alawi populationSyrian president Bashar al-Assad and most top government officials are Alawis, a Shi’a-affiliated religious group that represents only 12% of the country’s populace. Katherine Lanpher talks with Jocelyne Cesari of Harvard University about Alawi beliefs and their role in Syrian society and politics. Jewish life in Tunisia under EnnahdaAs one of the earliest Jewish settlements in the world, Tunisia was home to over 100,000 Jews in the mid-20th century. Today that number is less than 2,000. America Abroad reports from Tunisia on life for those who remain, and their hopes and concerns under the new Islamist regime. Declining religious diversity in the Middle EastThe Middle East, once a region of great religious diversity, has in recent decades seen a mass emigration of minorities – now making it one of the most religiously monolithic regions in the world. Joseph Braude reports. U.S. efforts to ensure religious freedomWhat role should the U.S. play in ensuring religious freedom in the Middle East? Elliott Abrams, former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, talks with Katherine Lanpher about what the U.S. is and should be doing. Religious persecution in the MideastHost Ray Suarez talks with Thomas Farr of Georgetown University and Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute about the persecution faced by religious minorities in the Mideast, and what the United States is and isn't doing to address it.