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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Discrimination of Minority Religions in Authoritarian Countries: A Cross-Country Comparison

Comparative Politics
Elina Sannehag
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Elina Sannehag
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

It is well known that discrimination against minority religious groups is more severe in authoritarian regimes than in democratic countries. However, there are only a handful of studies, which investigate minority religion discrimination in the authoritarian context and consequently, the determinants of such discrimination are poorly understood. The aim of the current paper is to address this gap in research. By employing data from the third round of the Religion and State-Minorities dataset, the paper focuses on minority religion discrimination in ca. 70 authoritarian countries in 1990-2014, and answers the following questions: (1) What are the quantitative and qualitative differences in minority religion discrimination across the authoritarian countries and over time? (2) How can the observed differences and similarities in discrimination across the authoritarian countries be explained? The central argument of the paper is that factors such as political institutions and co-operation between the regime and the majority religion are the most important determinants of discrimination. The type of the religious majority and minority groups is of less importance. (3) Finally, the paper addresses the relationship between social regulation of religion and minority religion discrimination. Whereas several studies argue that social regulation is an important determinant of discrimination, this paper discusses whether social regulation of religion can rather be understood as a consequence of the discrimination that is exercised by the authoritarian regimes.
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