When Minorities Rule
The traditional Muslim polity was not concerned with establishing the numerical superiority of Muslims. Indeed, in the most dynamic Muslim empires, Muslim minorities ruled over non-Muslim majorities. Muslims did not agonize over their status as numerical minorities in these situations. It is true that both Britain and France used minorities as allies in their efforts to find economical ways to exert imperial control. They recruited from minorities, as a counterbalance to the very same Arab nationalism they had once promoted. The democracy agenda tampers with much more than the political order. These are conservative societies; they fear disorder; and if democracy means overturning ethnic and sectarian balances, and opening the door to possible conflict, they are bound to suspect it. The empowerment of the Jews via the creation of Israel overturned one traditional order, but empowering Shi'ites is an escalation that reaches into the very essence of Islam.