(Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester and co-head of the Anglican-Al Azhar Dialogue, warned against the rising threat of a "tyranny of the majority" in Arab Spring countries, in a speech last Thursday.
He called on all concerned to "commit themselves to equal rights for religious minorities and women in these countries."
Bishop Nazir-Ali's speech was part of a series of lectures hosted by Christian Solidarity International (CSI) on the future of religious minorities in the Islamic Middle East.
In the lecture entitled "The Arab Spring and its Aftermath: Implications for Muslim-Christian relations," the bishop criticized what he called the Western "love affair" with democracy promotion in the Middle East.
He noted the failure of such Western intervention in Iraq, Syria and the hypocritical relationship with the "Salafi-Wahhabi government…facilitated by what the Western powers" of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These countries routinely result in an environment in which Christians and women are treated as second-class citizens.
The events in these countries, as well as the recent Arab revolutions, he continued, are occurring "against the backdrop of an Islamic resurgence," for both Shi'a and Sunni Islam.
The bishop warned of an expected "huge-scale Shia-Sunni conflict throughout the region," which will determine the fate of the region's Christian groups.
Bishop Nazir-Ali concluded that Arab Spring countries must commit to three principles to make a successful transition to states governed by the rule of law: "one law for all" as opposed to different laws based on religious affiliation, equality before that law and "common citizenship" for men, women and all religious groups.