Sigma: Journal of Political and International Studies


Annie Gold


Covid-19 pandemic, mandates, MENA Region


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global economic landscape, leading to unprecedented unemployment spikes, supply chain standstills, and small business shutdowns. From a healthcare perspective, national governments have struggled to provide sufficient care and vaccination to citizens, often requiring strict curfews to remedy the lack of available healthcare provisions. The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region has especially suffered during the pandemic. However, despite the challenging fiscal climate and underprovision of healthcare services, results from the 2021 Arab Barometer survey indicate that citizens’ tolerance of different ethnic and religious groups has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some ethnic and religiously-based conflicts have persisted, such as violent outbreaks between Hamas and the Israel Defense force, individual-level tolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities and immigrants has increased significantly. Such findings run contrary to existing theories tying economic difficulty to feelings of hostility towards other groups or government coercion to increased minority oppression. In short, amid circumstances that typically turn ethnic and religious groups against one another, tolerance levels between groups have increased, not decreased.