Twin Tolerations ~ Religious Toleration and Democracy in Muslim-Majority States

Open Access
Fayed, Hamsa Ibrahim
Area of Honors:
International Politics
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Matthew Richard Golder, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • Religious Toleration
  • Democracy
  • Twin Tolerations
  • Muslim
  • Muslim States
Can religious toleration improve democracy within Muslim Majority states? The purpose of this paper will be to explore Twin Tolerations, a theory of religious toleration, in Muslim-majority states. I have conducted a time-series cross-sectional quantitative analysis on 49 Muslim-majority countries between 1990 – 2008, testing to see if low government restrictions on religion and low religious influence on the state indicate higher levels of democracy in Muslim-majority states. A significant example of effective Twin Tolerations can be noted in the device of the Millet system in the Ottoman Empire, as an early form of positive accommodations that helped keep religious and state institutions out of conflict with one another. I hypothesized that the implementation of twin tolerations will have a positive effect on state-religion relations, thereby improving democracy conditions. Overall, my findings concluded that high levels of religious influence on the state and government restrictions on religion keep democracy low within Muslim-majority states. This indicates that both tolerations are necessary for high levels of democracy within the state. I utilize the Muslim-majority state case studies of Egypt and Senegal; the former serves as an example of a Twin Tolerations violator with low democracy levels and the latter serves as a Twin Toleration adherent with high democracy levels. This research has important implications for foreign policy making concerning development and democratization within Muslim-majority states as it contributes to a nuanced, developed understanding of the existence of multiple forms of secularisms, alternative to the conventional laïcité formations, that are thought to be exclusively compatible with democracy.