Departing ‘Secularism’:boundary appropriation and extension of the Syrian state in the religious domain

Aldoughli, Rahaf Bara'a (2022) Departing ‘Secularism’:boundary appropriation and extension of the Syrian state in the religious domain. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 49 (2). pp. 360-385. ISSN 1353-0194

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Despite the official secularity of the Syrian state, religion has always been a viable instrument used by the Baˈathist regime to consolidate its authority and legitimacy. Taking different historical trajectories ranging from confrontation to co-optation, the boundaries between state and religion have shifted to conflation in the post-2011 uprising. The official political rhetoric has become explicitly religious and anti-secular, ending an era of official secularity since the 1970s. This newly employed religious rhetoric is evident in the presidential discourse, which is heavily and explicitly infused with religious language. Analysis of Bashar al-Assad’s speech to high-ranking ulama in 2011 and his other public statements on the website of the Ministry of Awqaf provides evidence not only of how such religious language marks the move from secularity, which was used to strategically co-opt religious institutions up to 2010, but also how the deployment of religion has become a source of security, legitimacy and survival for the Baˈathist regime since 2011.

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Journal Article
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British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies on 11/08/2020, available online:
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12 Aug 2020 10:29
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 01:09