Authors: Imad Salamey and Muzammil M. Hussain
Abstract: Ongoing political upheavals in many Middle East and North African countries represent major challenges to decades of authoritarian rule. Simultaneously, these upheavals also present a major dilemma to movements and parties laboring to replace rapidly collapsing authoritarian regimes. Some analysts and publics are haunted by the danger of Islamist taking advantage of democratic transition to claim majoritarian rule. Such a situation has alarmed non-religious, secular, liberal, and sectarian minority groups with the possibility of emerging majoritarian Islamist tyranny that aborts the prospects for genuinely pluralistic polities and societies. This paper sheds light on whether such fears and reservations exist, whether they are ‘minority’ oriented, and how they project prospective regimes. Based on a representative public opinion survey of Lebanese sectarian attitude, it assesses the extent to which belonging to a sectarian ‘minority’ group shapes political attitudes and judgments toward the contemporary ‘revolutionary’ changes in the Middle East and North Africa. The results also inform the potential variations and opinion polarization with respect to ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions.
Keywords: MENA Revolutions; Comparative Democratization, Lebanese Public Opinion; democratic transition; Arab Spring