Ethno‐cultural minority rights have been regarded as a part of human rights since the last decade of the twentieth century. These rights are often formulated in predominantly culturalist terms. Citing the importance of culture in the lives of members, they are conceptualized as tools for protecting the distinct identity of minority cultures. This paper claims that this way of formulating minority rights is to portray minority communities as if they were not concerned with the pathologies of modern democracies, such as the increasing marginalization of citizens from democratic life, far‐right populism, and the subordination of democracy into the functional requirements of economy. Accordingly, it argues for a theory of minority rights that formulates these rights as tools for protecting democracy against such pathologies. In doing so, it takes its point of departure from Jürgen Habermas’s communicative action theory and his understanding of democracy and public autonomy.