TWU professor ponders Middle East minorities’ future

Image of Paul Rowe

Listen to Dr. Paul Rowe talk to Kash Heed on Pulse FM about the future of minorities in the Middle East.


Rowe, an expert on the politics of Middle East minorities, will discuss the plight and future options of the communities targeted by ISIS during a lecture Wednesday, Nov. 9 at TWU Richmond. Paul Sedra, associate professor of history at Simon Fraser University, will also participate in the lecture.

Since gaining control of regions of Iraq and Syria, ISIS has committed what Amnesty International calls “ethnic cleansing on a historic scale” by targeting the region’s numerous minority communities.

Kurds, Yezidis, Druze, Christians and all other communities that do not follow the Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam have been killed, enslaved or forced to flee their homes, accelerating an ongoing process of demographic decline.

Though coalition forces have encircled ISIS in Mosul and may soon defeat it, Rowe believes the radical movement has brought irreversible changes to the region. 

“The Middle East is plural, even if it isn’t pluralist,” he said. “The countries will only be healthy when they have a pluralist system, where people can live as they wish.”

Rowe suggested that one solution to strengthen minorities in Iraq would be to create a safety zone for them in the northern part of the country, similar to what was done for the Jewish community with the creation of Israel.  

But he believes a better solution would be to create pluralist settlements, which would prevent minorities from living in isolated corners.

“It happened in the Lebanese Civil War. All Christians living in the Shouf District clustered in one area for safety,” Rowe said. “After the war, there were efforts to re-settle them in the Shouf.”

Some communities might even get a happy ending, such as the Christian community in Qaraqosh, Iraq. ISIS lost control of the city in October and former residents started coming back.

“They re-claimed their homes and they re-built the churches,” Rowe said.

The TWU Leaders’ Series lecture will start at 7 p.m. Admission is free but registration is recommended. To register for the lecture, please visit www.twu.ca/leaders-series.

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