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Rituals of Respect: Sufis and Secularists in Senegal in Comparative Perspective

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“Rituals of respect” are recurrent, public, and reciprocal political practices. In Sufi-majority Senegal, such practices first facilitated accommodation among a variety of groups in potential conflict, and later facilitated tolerance, then respect, and eventually democracy. The social construction of horizontal rituals of respect between religious groups, especially Sufis and Catholics, and reciprocal vertical rituals of respect between the secular state and virtually all religious groups, have created this “twin tolerations”- friendly environment. Is the Senegalese pattern generalizable? Three of the major dimensions of this pattern—a “co-celebratory” dimension of diverse religions, a consensual state-religion “policy cooperation” dimension, and a “principled distance” dimension of support for human rights and democracy—are also prominent in several countries which have large Muslim populations and are widely seen as having been democracies for the last ten years, namely, Indonesia, India, and Albania.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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