This essay considers accounts of the Dreyfus Affair published in the newspaper Thamarat al-Funun (founded 1875) during 1898 to demonstrate how Arab writers addressed the rights of minorities in Europe and examined failed emancipatory projects. Writing about the Dreyfus Affair allowed intellectuals in the Levant to reverse the power relationship between themselves and Europe and to comment on the kinds of politics that would ensure the equality before the law of the Jewish minority in Europe. These debates further illustrate that even before the shift to electoral politics in the Ottoman Empire (after 1908) and in postwar Arab nation-states, Arab writers were preoccupied with the relationship between statecraft and majority-minority relations. They argued that democratic institutions such as parliaments and courts of law were the best venues to safeguard the rights of religious communities whose mere existence was defined as a problem. Bashkin shows how Thamarat al-Funun pointed to phenomena that endangered religious communities, such as fanaticism, racism, abuse of power by the police and the military, and mob politics.

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