Discursive Game of (De)Sectarianization: Assad’s Acting ‘As if Not’

An online lecture by Dr Mustafa Menshawy is a postdoc at the University of Lancaster. The lecture is no. 5/9 in the fall 2021 online lecture series.

The literature on the Syrian conflict is almost preoccupied with how Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ‘sectarianized’ actions by mobilizing the support of religious minorities, discrediting protestors as religious fanatics. The paper makes the opposite claim, i.e. Assad has used de-sectarianization as a strategy to reach the same goals. Adopting frame analysis of all of Assad speeches since the eruption of the conflict, the paper shows the strategy includes an acting ‘as if not’ under which the president fully denied, downsized or falsified any alleged sectarian underpinnings of his actions or the whole post-2011 conflict.


Dr Mustafa Menshawy is a postdoc at the Sectarianism, Proxies & Desectarianisation (SEPAD) project at the University of Lancaster. He is the author of the book: Leaving the Muslim Brotherhood: Self, Society and the State, and among his many articles is Sovereignty alignment process: strategies of regime survival in Egypt, Libya and Syria, in Third World Quarterly.

Participate in the online event

Lecture Series

The research project Mediatized Diaspora – Contentious Politics among Arab Media Users in Europe at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, invites you to the fall 2021 online lecture series on Middle Eastern media, diaspora and politics Post-Arab Spring.

All lectures will take place on Thursdays at 17:15 (CET).

For any inquiries, please contact project leader: Dr Ehab Galal