The Concept of Minority, a Critical Appraisal An online workshop co-organized by the Department of Islamic Studies, SHSS-HSG and theCompetence Centre for African Research at IWE-HSG, on the 7th of June 2021. Introduction On 7 June 2021, the Competence Center for African Research at the Institute for Business Ethics,University of St.Gallen co-hosted a workshop on the concept of minority with the Department of Islamic Studies, University of St.Gallen. Focusing on five questions listed here, the workshop adopted an interdisciplinary and critical approach to the concept of minority. Key reflections made by five speakers are summarized as below. In what ways does the concept of minority illuminates and/or obscures claims enunciated by the distinct group? In what ways does the concept of minority is understood as to be ‘neutral’ and/or politically charged? In which ways the concept of minority promotes or hinders particular aspects in the study of social, sexual, cultural, religious or ethnic difference? In what regards does the concept of minority provide an adequate analytical frame to understand enunciations of sameness and of difference? And are there alternatives in place? What strengths and weaknesses can be identified in the use of the minority concept as a representational and analytical medium? Summary Dr. Silvia Gagliardi: A double minority within a majoritarian minority: The case of Amazigh women in Morocco Gagliardi started by giving a context to her talk that focused on post -2011 Morocco as a case study used for examining the understanding and value of concepts such as rights and gender equality for minority and indigenous women. Gagliardi argued that, in this post-colonial context, the rights-based conception of minorities has been largely shaped by an urban, male, educated elite to craft a certain collective history and imagined community. In doing so, decision-makers and Amazigh group leaders have used the minority concept and rights contestation to preserve the power distribution within their communities. Based on her field research, Gagliardi stressed that the universal concept of minority and its toolkits and the way they are used often fail to take into consideration the dynamics of intersectionality, thereby obfuscating the specific needs and perspectives of marginalized individuals within minority groups. In the Moroccan context, languages are highly gendered with Arabic being the purview of the urban and/or male population while exclusive Amazigh speakers tend to be rural and non-elite women. Her research findings show that Amazigh women face intersecting marginalization on the basis of gender, rurality and language spoken, and they are largely absent from scholarly and non-scholarly debates focusing on rights and equality as well as from minority and feminist movements. Gagliardi suggested that the concept of minority has never been neutral, and that it is often a tool for a discretionary attribution of status to a certain group, legally and politically. In the particular context of post-colonial Morocco, the concept has been historically used to incentivize collaboration of different groups by both colonial authorities and the State (read the Monarchy) by delineating discrete ethnic and cultural demarcations within the population. In this post-colonial context, ‘the human rights project’ including women’s rights, family law and language policy reforms have been largely coopted by decision-making powers and ruling elites for the preservation of the status quo and power maintenance. Gagliardi’s research problematizes the notion of minority and indigenous people’s rights as a panacea for addressing rights and equality issues and violations, especially for group members who might be discriminated and marginalized in multiple and intersecting ways. As an illustration, the role that Amazigh women perform in their communities as oral narrators and preservers of the cultural and linguistic authenticity of Amazigh culture comes with a ‘cost’ to these women in that it has sidelined and marginalized them within their own communities and wider society. Against this backdrop, linguistic and cultural rights, which form the quintessential part of minority rights, can and have been used to silence individual voices within such groups. Understanding the particulars of each case while “de-internationalizing” the concept of minority rights is advisable, a perspective that should work through a non-prescriptive, non-exclusionary and counter-hegemonic approach. Dr. Moza Jadeed: The Recognition of Islamic Personal Law in Kenya: A Preferential Treatment? Jadeed started by introducing principles of human rights related to the concept of minority recognized in Kenya. Legal basis for the protection of minority rights includes but is not limited to the ICCPR, 1992 Minorities declaration, 2001 UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity, and Art. 21 (3) of the Constitution of Kenya (2010). Minority rights are also protected through the right to religion, culture, equality/freedom from discrimination, and the right to self-determination. Based on these nationally and internationally recognized rights, Kenyan Muslims particularly in the North Eastern province (mainly Somalis) and the Coastal province (or region) demanded for an enhancement and continuation of the Islamic courts (which included inclusion of Islamic criminal law and appellate courts). Jadeed explained that both the continuation and enhancement of the Islamic court was not positively welcomed by some Kenyan Christian leadership and was seen as favoring the Islamic religion. She argued that, what such rejection overlooked is that the principle of equality in human rights documents encompasses substantive equality – which means treating likes alike and differences differently, inferring that the principle of Equality does not mean sameness of treatment. Jadeed also made a case for that accommodation is to be considered an essential doctrine in equality law. She suggested that unlike favoritism, accommodation permits ‘exceptions and exemptions where merited’. In conclusion, she thinks that the recognition of Islamic personal law in Kenya is quintessential to the protection of Muslim Kenyans against indirect discrimination. Dr. Florian Elliker: Situated minority and marginalization. On the interactive constitution of awkwardness and uneasiness in interracial encounters Florian Elliker focused on the notion of minority as it is experienced in everyday life by presenting a case study of student residences at historically white Afrikaans universities in South Africa. Grounded in basic aspects of ‘minority-ness’ such as relative size, cultural difference, socioeconomic disadvantage, and marginality and political exclusion, the case study conceptualizes minority as a situated experience on the micro- and meso-level of analysis. Based on ethnographic data, the case study demonstrates what processes and factors lead to situated marginalization and feelings of uneasiness. Dr. Asebe Regassa: Dispossession, Marginalization and Violence against “Minorities” in Ethiopia: A critical Appraisal Regassa challenged the mainstream legalistic understanding of the notion of minority by arguing that such approach does not reflect the power relations of the Ethiopian context. He defends a contextualized approached, one that rather than thinking minorities merely numerically looks more critically at the relationship of each group with the state, and reaching the conclusion that the question of minority must take into consideration issues of inter-group as well as state-society relations, a perspective in which the question of access to power and resources becomes fundamental. He also contents that in postcolonial contexts minorities are identified in relation to the trajectories of nation-building projects connected to colonial legacies. These legacies affects aspects such as imposition of language, culture, political views and ways of life upon marginalized, underrepresented groups with the view of contributing to national projects that aim at creating an homogenous nation-state, entailing, in turn, a relegation of diversities and marginalization of non-dominant groups. He suggests that the concept of minority is fluid and subject to diverse interpretations and contextual understandings, which means that numeric minorities cannot simply be equated with powerlessness. Instead, he invites as to focus on how political, socio-economic and cultural process are configured by looking at the concept qualitatively rather than quantitatively. As a result he claimed that the normative legal framework of minority issues doesn’t help developing nuanced analyses of power relations, governance and equality. He concluded by stressing that for more nuanced understanding and assessment of the notion of minority it would be helpful to drive insights from post-colonial studies and other critical theories such as critical race studies. Dr. Marta Domínguez Díaz: Old and new Andalusians: elites and minorities in Tunisia today Domínguez Díaz started with a brief historical introduction of the Andalusian people, in order to showed that being Andalusian has sometimes become a sign of social distinction in today’s Tunisia. While practically being underprivileged (economically and politically), Andalusians are often assumed to be from an elitist background. An Andalusian revivalist movement took shape after the Arab Spring in 2011 and she questions whether we can confer the minority status to this group , even though this group often dislike being called minority. This aversion had to do with the ways in which colonial rule and the subsequent nation-state categorized the group, a process in which they became incorporated into the Arabo-Muslim majority, loosing thus any form of differentiation and structural benefit. The newly progressive Constitution adopted in 2014 attempted to recognize the nation and the notion of minority but Andalusians were not recognized as a group. Likewise, in 2018 the criminal law criminalized racial and religious discrimination but Andalusians have resentment that they are still invisible to receive such protection. Andalusians, numerically few, are often presented as an aspirational cultural utopia, a sort of identity parameter sometimes used to discriminate others. These dynamics complicate the question on whether they should be considered a minority, or rather, somehow, an elite. Dr. Fatoumata Keïta: The Tuareg Insurgency and Gender-based violence in Northern Mali Keïta’s reflection focused on the Tuaregs of Mali and looked at the notion of minority through the lens of ethnicity. She suggests that while the concept of minority often claims to look for the protection of disadvantaged groups, and does so by touching upon issues of differentness, diversity, and inclusion, it neither says little about key aspects such as the size of the minority group, its political leverage, dynamics of power relations, nor does it reflects on the cross-fertilization between the minority and the majority. In line with previous arguments, she suggested that when applied to ethnicity, the notion of minority overshadows the dynamics of intersectionality, obliterating the effect of other categories such as gender, or religion. Keïta showed by looking at the example of Mali, the conflictual relation between ethnic violence and claiming minority rights, with regards to the case of the Tuareg, in which the minority issue is exploited for fueling political and ethnic conflict. Some of the problematizing issues she highlighted include: a, to what extent the concept of minority sheds light on claims enunciated by Tuareg people in Northern Mali while overlooking complex ethnic relations and cross-fertilization in the region?; b, what does the Tuareg minority claims inform us about the internal and external power games at stake in the region?; c, how does it intersect with women’s rights violation and trivialized gender-based violence in Mali?; d, to what extent it is used to justify geo-strategic and geopolitical manipulation and resource plundering in Northern Mali?; and, e, to what extent the discourse of ethnic minority on the Tuareg falls within the ambit of the international politics discourse on “democracy mission” and “minority right protection”?