Minority Politics in the Mediterranean World

In his article, Minority Politics in the Mediterranean World, Paul Silverstein writes of the difficulty facing the ideal of minority politics within the Mediterranean culture. He explains this overall struggle to find an equilibrium between single and plural views within legal rhetoric used within Morocco. The government attempts to be all inclusive, however, still names itself a Muslim state with Arabic as its official language and Islam as the official religion of the state. He states that the Mediterranean is “particularly ‘good to think’ as a frontier zone where the long historic circulation of people, goods , and cultural forms have layered a multiplicity of interpenetrating social formations and proliferated (sometimes violent) encounters across various terrains of difference.” This view of his is the basis for his argument against minority politics being used in Morocco. He explains that this rich historic relevance and significant cultural background throughout the Mediterranean, more specifically Morocco, can’t be seen as “minority politics” as all those within Morocco share this web of history. He explains that so many different factors play into the historic background of Morocco that there is so many different minorities that minority politics can no longer be used to explain the exclusion of some cultures from the nations official language or religion. Silverstein uses this fact as a way to show that the current Moroccan constitution as a better form of the previous versions but still not complete inclusive to all cultures within Morocco. His main concern with the new constitution is that, though it allows other religions and languages to be practiced, it is “not backed up by actual institutions of financial investments which would guarantee political rights, socioeconomic equity and the rule of law- they call for social justice and an end to the corruption and disdain they face on a daily basis from government workers and security forces – [this] is not a minority politics as such, but, ultimately, a simply human politics.” This means that, while the written constitutions states these practices are acceptable, it does not include any form of protection for these practices and no way for these minority groups to overcome the same political oppression that they have been facing. The text in the constitution may read as a piece encouraging multiculturalism, however, it still limits the minority groups by leaving out any political or economic protections for the minorities.

This difficult piece first reminded me of our midterm debate over the reason the Mediterranean was seen as a whole. The historic and cultural similarities in the groups living within the Mediterranean have been a standing factor in much of the development in legislation. However, I was surprised to see that somewhere that so openly appealed to multiculturalism still saw a single language and a single religion as more dominant and significant than others. I was even more astonished when Silverstein pointed out that this promise of inclusion was simply a hallow promise made for political improvement. Can we see examples of this in our society? Is the United States so new when compared to countries around the Mediterranean to see the same type of multiculturalism or is it even more evident here as we are a nation of different backgrounds?












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