Fabrice Balanche: Minorities in the Syrian Crisis

Wednesday, November 6

Time: 12 - 2 PM

Location: 754 Schermerhorn Hall Extension, Columbia University

The slogan chanted in the demonstrations against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in spring 2011 was controversial: "The Alawites to the grave and Christians to Beirut." 

The Syrian opposition claimed that the authors of this slogan were members of the intelligence services who infiltrated the demonstrations. According to them, the purpose was to show the radicalism of the opposition, dominated by Salafists, to scare minorities and all those who wish to live in a secular Syria. Is it actually a manipulation of the system or a real aim of a part of the opposition? 

After two and a half years of fighting, a clear cleavage has emerged between minorities and the Sunni Arab majority in Syria. Does this foreshadow a partition of the country, and more generally the entire Middle East on ethno-religious criteria? 

Fabrice Balanche, Director of the Research Group in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies, will discuss sectarianism and community fragmentation in Syria and beyond. 

This event is organized by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life and co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute.