Promoting Inclusivity in Anti-Sectarian Protests: Understanding the Dilemmas of Organizers in Lebanon’s 2019 October Uprising

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Anne Kirstine Rønn Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 7, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark

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This article contributes to explaining limitations to the inclusivity of protest movements against sectarianism through a case study of the 2019 Lebanese October Uprising. The study scrutinizes the challenges key organizers in Beirut faced when seeking to address issues of inclusivity concerning residents from two Shiʿite majority communities in and around the city. Engaging social movement theories on intersectionality and political opportunity structures and drawing on data from twenty-two in-depth interviews, it shows that organizers were attentive to stereotyping and exclusive attitudes concerning young men from the two communities. Yet, while expressing a desire to address these, organizers also found themselves caught in a dilemma, fearing that their efforts to promote inclusivity could trigger accusations of sectarian biases and favoritism. These findings provide important inputs to wider scholarly debates concerning the relationship between protests and other forms of anti-sectarian mobilization as well as the costs and desirability of enhancing inclusivity.

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