Coptic Christians

The year 2011 will be remembered as one of immense political and social change around the world, particularly the Middle East. On this International Human Rights Day, Freedom House looks back at a few of the best and worst developments of the year with respect to their long-term implications for the global state of human rights.

In an October 15 opinion piece in the New York Times, provocatively titled “Democracy’s Collateral Damage,” Ross Douthat makes a series of arguments and observations about ethnicity, democracy, and stability. While they touch on a legitimate scholarly debate about the difficulty of establishing new democracies in multiethnic countries, they also seem to posit dubious cause-and-effect relationships and assign blame where it is clearly not due. Because these arguments sometimes contradict one another, they are best addressed one or two at a time.

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