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The article describes the state of race relations and racism in the Middle East. Racism is widely condemned throughout the world, with 174 states parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by April 8, 2011.[1] In different countries, the forms that racism takes may be different for historic, cultural, religious, economic or demographic reasons.


See also: Human rights in Bahrain, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Slavery in Bahrain, and Demographics of Bahrain

Despite making up the majority of the population,[2] Shia Muslims in Bahrain face severe persecution.[3][4][5]

The situation of Shia Muslims has been compared to apartheid.[6][7][8][9]


Main article: Racism in Iran

See also: Human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Slavery in Iran, and Demography of Iran

According to article 19 of the Iranian constitution:[10]

All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; and color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege.

Iran is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.


This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2021)

See also: Human rights in Iraq, Slavery in Iraq, Human rights in pre-Saddam Iraq, Human rights in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Human rights in post-invasion Iraq, Mass graves in Iraq, and Demography of Iraq

During World War II, Rashid Ali al-Kaylani blamed British hostility toward his pro-Nazi stance on the Iraqi Jewish community. In 1941, Iraqi nationalists murdered 200 Jews in Baghdad in a pogrom.[11]

Further information: Farhud

After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Iraqi Jews faced persecution so great that by 1951, approximately 100,000 of them left the country while the Iraqi rulers confiscated their property and financial assets.[11]

During 1987–1988, Iraqi forces carried out a genocide against the Iraqi Kurds that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Further information: Al-Anfal Campaign

The UN reports that although Christians comprise less than 5% of Iraq's population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq.[12][13] More than 50% of Iraqi Christians have already left the country since 2003.[14] Iraq's Christian community numbered 1.4 million in the early 1980s at the start of Iran–Iraq War. But as the 2003 invasion has radicalized Islamic sensibilities, Christians' total numbers slumped to about 500,000 by 2006, of whom 250,000 live in Baghdad.[15][16]

Furthermore, the Mandaean and Yazidi communities are at the risk of elimination due to ethnic cleansing by Islamic extremists.[17][18]

A May 25, 2007 article notes that in the previous seven months only 69 people from Iraq had been granted refugee status in the United States.[19]


Main article: Racism and ethnic discrimination in Israel

See also: Anti-Arabism § Israel, Arab citizens of Israel § Legal and political status, Antisemitism in the Arab world § Israeli Arabs, Human rights in Israel, and Demographics of Israel

On 22 February 2007, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination[20] will consider the report submitted by Israel under Article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.[citation needed] The report states that "Racial discrimination is prohibited in Israel. The State of Israel condemns all forms of racial discrimination, and its government has maintained a consistent policy prohibiting such discrimination".[21]

Caputi, this report was challenged by several reports submitted to the committee by other bodies most of which are from Muslim strong or Arab majority States.

Adalah (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel), an Arab advocacy group, has alleged that "the State of Israel pursues discriminatory land and housing policies against Arabs citizens of Israel" and that "the needs of Arabs citizens of Israel are systematically disregarded".[22]

Throughout Jewish Israeli Society, and particularly among the youth, anti-Arab sentiment has spiked, manifesting itself in the form of rising hate crimes,[23] public opinion polls,[24] and hateful comments from high-profile Knesset members. The newspaper Haaretz has prominently written "Let's face it: Israel has a racism problem".[25]


See also: Human rights in Jordan, Slavery in Jordan, Antisemitism in Jordan, and Demographics of Jordan

Racism is sometimes manifested in football where some people in the audience cause factious affairs since Jordanians usually support Al Faisaly football club and Palestinians support Al Wehdat.[citation needed]


See also: Human rights in Lebanon, Slavery in Lebanon, Antisemitism in Lebanon, and Demographics of Lebanon

Lebanon has been accused of practicing apartheid against Palestinian residents.[26][27][28][29] According to Human Rights Watch, "In 2001, Parliament passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from owning property, a right they had for decades. Lebanese law also restricts their ability to work in many areas. In 2006, Lebanon eliminated a ban on Palestinians holding most clerical and technical positions, provided they obtain a temporary work permit from the Labor Ministry, but more than 20 high-level professions remain off-limits to Palestinians. Few Palestinians have benefited from the 2005 reform, though. In 2009, only 261 of more than 145,679 permits issued to non-Lebanese were for Palestinians. Civil society groups say many Palestinians choose not to apply because they cannot afford the fees and see no reason to pay a portion of their salary toward the National Social Security Fund, since Lebanese law bars Palestinians from receiving social security benefits."[30]

In 2010, Palestinians were granted the same rights to work as other foreigners in the country.[31]


See also: Slavery in Oman and Human rights in Oman

Omani society is largely tribal.[32][33][34] Oman has three known types of identities.[33] Two of these identities are "tribalism and Ibadism", the third identity is linked to "maritime trade".[33] The first two identities are widespread in the interior of Oman, these identities are closely tried to tradition, as a result of lengthy periods of isolation. The third identity, which pertains to Muscat and the coastal areas of Oman, is an identity that has become embodied in business and trade. Consequently, the third identity is generally seen to be more open and tolerant towards others. Thus, tension between socio-cultural groups in Omani society exists. More importantly, is the existence of social inequality between these three groups.[33]

According to the CIA, Oman's population primarily consists of Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), and African ethnic groups.[35]

The descendants of servant tribes and slaves are victims of widespread discrimination.[36] Omanis of slave origin are sometimes referred to as "khaddam" (servant) and some are subservient to previous masters, despite legal emancipation.[33] Oman was the one of the last nations on earth to abolish slavery in 1970.[37]

It is believed that migrant workers in Oman are treated better than in other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[37] The plight of domestic workers in Oman is a taboo subject.[38][37] Every six days, an Indian migrant in Oman commits suicide.[39][40] There has been a campaign urging authorities to check the migrant suicide rate.[41]


Main article: Racism in the Palestinian territories

See also: Human rights in the Palestinian territories, Slavery in Palestine, Antisemitism in the Arab world § Palestinian territories, Antisemitism § Palestinian territories, and Demographics of the Palestinian territories

Various Palestinian organizations and individuals have been regularly accused of being antisemitic. Howard Gutman believes that much of Muslim hatred of Jews stems from the ongoing Arab–Israeli conflict and that peace would significantly reduce anti-semitism.[42]


See also: Human rights in Qatar and Slavery in Qatar

Citizens in Qatar discriminate against migrant workers even though they make up most of the population.[43] The backlash comes from the working conditions that they put their migrant workers through. These workers are usually placed in dangerous work zones that they have no choice but to stick by as there are no other jobs available.[43] The instances that happened in the World Cup 2022 are an example.

Domestic workers are a large target of racism in Qatar due to it happening behind closed doors. These workers are subjected to mental abuse and some were also subjected to physical abuse such as rape.[43] Domestic workers are often unable to escape due to the working conditions they are facing. Many, work without getting any kind of pay.[44] Their lack of money makes them unable to return home and impacts their families as most of them rely on the worker's income.

Saudi Arabia

See also: Human rights in Saudi Arabia, Slavery in Saudi Arabia, Antisemitism in Saudi Arabia, Antisemitism § Saudi Arabia territories, and Demographics of Saudi Arabia

Racism in Saudi Arabia against labor workers who are foreigners, mostly from developing countries. Asian maids have been persecuted victims of racism and discrimination in the country,[45][46][47][48] foreign workers have been exploited, under- or unpaid, physically abused,[49] overworked and locked in their places of employment. The international organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) describes these conditions as "near-slavery" and attributes them to "deeply rooted gender, religious, and racial discrimination".[50] In many cases the workers are unwilling to report their employers for fear of losing their jobs or further abuse.[50]

There were several cases of antisemitism in Saudi Arabia and is common within religious circles. Saudi Arabian media often attacks Jews in books, news articles, at their Mosques and with what some describe as antisemitic satire. Saudi Arabian government officials and state religious leaders often promote the idea that Jews are conspiring to take over the entire world; as proof of their claims they publish and frequently cite The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as factual.[51][52]


Main article: Racism and discrimination in Turkey

See also: Human rights in Turkey, Minorities in Turkey, and Freedom of religion in Turkey

See also


  1. ^ "Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 68th and 69th session". United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  2. ^ "Religion and Politics in Bahrain: Facts on the Ground: A Reliable Estimate of Bahrain's Sunni-Shi'i Balance, and Evidence of Demographic Engineering". 2011-04-05. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  3. ^ Aryn Baker [1] "Why A Saudi Intervention into Bahrain Won't End the Protests" March 14, 2011, Time Magazine.
  4. ^ "A Smearing Campaign against the Shiite Bahraini Citizens with the Participation of the Bahraini Crown Prince and the Ambassador of Bahrain in Washington", Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, viewed Mar 31, 2011
  5. ^ Raymond Barrett "Bahrain emerging as flashpoint in Middle East unrest," Feb. 15, 2011, Christian Science Monitor.
  6. ^ Nakash, Yitzhak (2006). Reaching for Power: The Shi'a in the Modern Arab World (PDF). Princeton University Press. p. 24.
  7. ^ Bobby Ghosh (5 March 2007). "Behind the Sunni-Shi'ite Divide". Time magazine. Archived from the original on February 26, 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  8. ^ Ameen Izzadeen [24] "Bahrain: the butchery of democracy dream," March 18, 32011, Daily Mirror
  9. ^ Raymond Barrett [25] "Bahrain emerging as flashpoint in Middle East unrest," Feb. 15, 2011, Christian Science Monitor.
  10. ^ "Iranian Government Constitution, English Text - Iran Online". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
  11. ^ a b Rubin, Michael. "Iraq." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002. pp. 410–419.
  12. ^ "Christians, targeted and suffering, flee Iraq". USA Today. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Nina Shea – Iraq's Endangered Minorities". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  14. ^ Out of Iraq, a flight of Chaldeans Archived 2008-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Steele, Jonathan (2006-11-30). "'We're staying and we will resist'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
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  19. ^ Ann McFeatters: Iraq refugees find no refuge in America. Seattle Post-Intelligencer May 25, 2007
  20. ^ "Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2008-02-12.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2008-02-12.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  25. ^ Prusher, Ilene (2013-03-12). "Let's face it: Israel has a racism problem". Haaretz.
  26. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh [2] "Where's the international outcry against Arab apartheid?," March 17, 2011, Jerusalem Post.
  27. ^ Martin Regg Cohn [3] "Not all apartheid is created equal," The Star, March 21, 2011.
  28. ^ Adia Massoud [4] "Left in Lebanon," The Guaradian, May 25, 2007
  29. ^ Leeds Palestine Soidarity Campaign, [5] June 24, 2010
  30. ^ Human Rights Watch [6] "Lebanon: Seize Opportunity to End Discrimination Against Palestinians; Remove Restrictions on Owning Property and Working" June 18, 2010
  31. ^ Bakri, Nada (August 17, 2010). "Lebanon Gives Palestinians New Work Rights". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Miller, Judith (28 January 2009). "Creating Modern Oman: An Interview with Sultan Qabus". ((cite magazine)): Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  33. ^ a b c d e Al-Azri, Khalid M. (2013). Social and Gender Inequality in Oman: The Power of Religious and Political Tradition. Routledge. p. 40. ISBN 9780415672412. Omani society largely remains attached to the pre-1970 tribal structure.
  34. ^ Al-Farsi, Sulaiman (2013-05-28). Democracy and Youth in the Middle East: Islam, Tribalism and the Rentier State in Oman. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 170–197. ISBN 9781780760902.
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  40. ^ "Migrant Rights". 21 November 2013.
  41. ^ "Campaign in Oman to check suicide rate". 10 July 2012.
  42. ^ Gantz, Menachem (3 December 2011). "Jew-hate stems from conflict". ynet. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
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Further reading