Political shifts in Muslim majority countries, such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have put Muslim minority communities into the spotlight and impacted upon their relationship with their host countries.
The Yörük of Turkey
A recent BBC2 show, hosted by author and presenter Simon Reeve, highlighted the plight of the Yörük people, who live in the Taurus Mountains, in Turkey’s southern Anatolia region.
The Yörük are descendants of some of the earliest tribes to settle in Turkey. The Yörük are traditionally nomadic people, practising seasonal migration with their herds of goats but, because of their nomadic lifestyle, their particular practice of Islam is quite unorthodox, involving neither mosques nor traditional imams, and this has brought them in recent conflict with a Turkish state, which has increasingly moved away from a broadly secular society to one which is increasingly authoritarian.
The recent referendum victory by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which secures him greater powers, can only be a cause of greater concern for the Yörük.
Want to learn more?
Questions surrounding the challenges faced by Muslim minorities and the place of religious minorities in secular societies are now being researched in academic institutions.
At the forefront of this research is a postgraduate course offered at SOAS University of London, called Muslim Minorities in a Global Context.
Muslim Minorities in a Global Context
The objective of the course is to enable students to explore the varieties of religious interpretations and practices that have resulted in specific issues and challenges arising within different Muslim minority communities. Key themes include ethnicity, gender, history, law and society.
Students consider the ways in which Muslim minorities impact national policies in non-Muslim states and engage with terms such as ‘integration’, ‘assimilation’, ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘islamophobia’ within different contexts.
The course includes an historical overview of Muslim migrations, aspects of civil society, the interaction of Muslim laws and the state laws of various jurisdictions, and the role of the media in shaping Muslims’ relationship with their host environment.
Students on the course can benefit from a range of activities organised by the CISD including media training by experienced BBC journalists; week-long European study tours; and SOAS Radio internships.
As well as the core module on Muslim Minorities in a Global Context, an optional module can be taken on Muslim Minorities and the State: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.
Muslim Minorities and the State
This module examines the development of government policies in Britain, France, USA, Germany, Italy, Spain, India and Singapore towards Muslim minority communities, both from a historical and from a contemporary perspective.
The importance of colonial legacies in order to understand the contemporary situation of Muslims in these countries is widely discussed and researched.
Find out more
- Check out Online and Distance Learning courses at SOAS
- Visit our Religions and Philosophies pages
- Discover more about Simon Reeve’s trip to Turkey