Immigration Issues


An interview with Tariq Ramadan

Interviewed by Hasan Azad, The Islamic Monthly, April 15, 2015

Hasan Azad: Muslims in the West are facing a great deal of scrutiny and questioning as to their “loyalty” to the countries of their citizenship and belonging. You have argued that the greatest challenge to such rhetoric is a committed citizenship on the part of Muslims that is engaged and contributes to the welfare of the wider community. And yet, there is a prevalent narrative amongst Muslims—which seems to me to be a vestige of old narratives of “us” vs. “them”—that makes many Muslims prefer to help Muslims in other countries, than help local communities and people in need, who may or may not be Muslim: as you have noted, poverty and suffering knows no religion or creed. How can Muslims reclaim the Prophetic imperative of caring for the neighbor, over and above identitarian-pettiness, which will only exacerbate the waves of Islamophobia that Muslims are experiencing?

Tariq Ramadan: This is what I’ve been saying for almost twenty-five years: we have to come back to the fundamentals and the principles of Islam. Understanding that there is something very important in our way of dealing with space: that anything that has to do with practicing religion has to do with where you are, and it is related to your neighborhood. For example, when the Quran refers to: “Those who, if We settle them in the land, establish prayer and give regular charity, promoting what is good and resisting what is bad” (Quran 22:41), what is important is that with the vertical dimension of prayer it means that when you pray somewhere you signify in symbolic terms, which are also practical, that this is home for you. This is what the sociologist Jocelyne Cesari has argued regarding the misunderstanding started in the West when people saw Muslims building mosques, and saw them as colonizing the space. It was in fact the opposite. It was an acknowledgement that we are home. It’s not to colonize, it’s to settle down, it’s to be part of the landscape.

(more…)


Joan of Arc—Miniature from the 15th century (detail)

By Anouar Majid, Tingis, February 2, 2015

Many people are asking what, exactly, is causing Muslims to be behind so many acts of terror and whether something could be done to change the situation for the better. The alienation of immigrant youth in Europe, the failure of Arab autocrats to provide a sense of hope to new ambitious generations, the growing disenchantment with the uneven promises of the global economy, and the perceived wrongful occupation of countries in the Middle East are some of the main explanations for the eruption of Islamic extremism in recent decades. Although these reasons play a role, they are byproducts of a disposition that is rarely discussed: the failure of nation-states to inculcate a strong sentiment of patriotism in its citizens.

While Western elites around the world are more interested in the concerns of their exclusive club of privilege, Muslims have weaker attachments to their nations than they do to the idea of an Islamic community, or umma. Whether one is a Muslim in Morocco, France, or China, the lure of Islam is more powerful than loyalty to nation. This is, in a nutshell, one of the major causes of Islamic terrorism today, but it is an issue that has yet to get the attention it deserves. (more…)

The media news network CNN sent reporter Nic Robertson to the border of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where he was given a tour and saw several of the Yemenis caught smuggling over the border. One of the items being smuggled was qat. A young boy was given $50 to smuggle it into Saudi territory. The authorities tell him that in the past three months they captured close to half a million tons of qat worth 100 million dollars on the street. Here is one way the Huthis are getting cash. The report indicates that the Saudis are spending a lot of money to build fences and guard towers, although much of the border is so rugged it is impossible to stop everyone. Robertson is a bit overactive in his role at one point telling the Saudi interior spokesman with him that the Iranians are behind the Huthis and then saying this is what the Saudis say. I suspect it is what the Saudis say, but it was presented as a statement in the excerpt provided.

You can watch the video here in English, here in Arabic and read about it in Arabic here.

by David Miller and Tom Mills, Open Democracy, January 15, 2015

Terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson is more than a comic buffoon. His claims about no-go zones for non-Muslims in European cities are just part of a wealthy network spreading Islamophobia across the west.

On Sunday, the veteran terrorism expert Steven Emerson appeared on Fox News to discuss Europe’s Muslim population and claimed that Birmingham was an example of a ‘totally Muslim [city] where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in’. The claim led to him being ridiculed online, and after the news media picked up on the story he issued an apology to ‘the beautiful city of Birmingham’ for his ‘terrible error’. So high profile was the story, that the Prime Minister David Cameron felt moved to comment, reportedly describing Emerson as ‘a complete idiot’.

The claims were idiotic. But Emerson is not simply an ‘idiot’, or a hopelessly misinformed ‘expert’. An examination of his background, the sources of his ideas, and the funding for his think tank the Investigative Project on Terrorism, show that he is part of what the Center for American Progress in a widely cited 2011 report Fear Inc. described as ‘a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts’ that ‘peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam’. (more…)


In solidarity with the people killed in Paris, this illustration is accompanied by the caption, “Break one, thousand will rise,” as part of the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag. Many people and media outlets have been sharing this illustration by Lucille Clerc but incorrectly crediting Banksy.
Credit: Lucille Clerc License: All rights reserved..

by Omid Safi, Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center, On-being, January 8, 2015

As a person of faith, times like these try my soul. Times like these are precisely when we need to turn to our faith. We turn inward, not because the answers are easy, but because not turning inward is unthinkable in moments of crisis.

So let us begin, not with the cartoons at the center of the shootings at the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, but with the human beings. Let it always be about the human beings:

• Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, 47 (editor)
• Bernard Maris, 68 (economist)
• Georges Wolinski, 80 (cartoonist)
• Jean “Cabu” Cabut, 78 (cartoonist)
• Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, 57 (cartoonist)
• Philippe Honoré, 73 (cartoonist)
• Elsa Cayat (columnist)
• Michel Renaud (a guest)
• Frederic Boisseau (building maintenance worker)
• Franck Brinsolaro, 49 (a police officer)
• Moustapha Ourrad (copy editor)… It’s not Muslims vs. cartoonists, as long as there are Muslim cartoonists.
• Ahmed Merabet, 42, (police officer)… A Muslim who died protecting the cartoonists from Muslim terrorists. Muslim vs. Muslim.

And brothers Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, and Hamyd Mourad — the shooters, with a legacy of crime behind them.

I try to resist the urge to turn the victims into saintly beings, or the shooters into embodiments of evil. We are all imperfect beings, walking contradictions of selfishness and beauty. And sometimes, like the actions of the Kouachi brothers and Mourad, it results in acts of unspeakable atrocity.

So how do we process this horrific news? Let me suggest nine steps:
image

Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet. He was shot in the head while lying on the ground begging for mercy on the streets near Charlie Hebdo’s office building.

1) Begin with grief.
We begin where we are, where our hearts are. Let us take the time to bury the dead, to mourn, and to grieve. Let us mourn that we have created a world in which such violence seems to be everyday. We mourn the eruption of violence. We mourn the fact that our children are growing up in a world where violence is so banal. (more…)


Muslim Council of Britain says female genital mutilation is ‘un-Islamic’

Group issues explicit guidance for the first time, condemning practice which it says is no longer linked to religious teaching

by Alexandra Topping, The Guardian, June 23

The Muslim Council of Britain, the country’s largest Muslim organisation, has condemned the practice of female genital mutilation as “un-Islamic” and told its members that FGM risks bringing their religion into disrepute.

The influential MCB has for the first time issued explicit guidance, which criticises the practice and says it is “no longer linked to the teaching of Islam”. It added that one of the “basic principles” of Islam was that believers should not harm themselves or others.

The organisation will send flyers to each of the 500 mosques that form its membership, which will also be distributed in community centres in a drive to eradicate a practice that affects 125 million women and girls worldwide and can lead to psychological torment, complications during childbirth, problems with fertility, and death. (more…)

from Sabah, Nisan 2, 2013

The last 77 members of the Ottoman dynasty, which are spread out throughout a wide geography spanning from the United States to Jordan, are now in communication with one another through a group formed on the popular social networking website Facebook.

Some were forced to get by through selling pages of gold-engraved Korans. Others were forced to sleep on the coast and to travel by coal trains. Then there were the ones who died before being able to scramble up the money for a ticket to return to their homeland when Turkey finally granted permission for the members of the Ottoman dynasty to return after being forced to spend 50 years in exile. The remaining members of the dynasty who were forced into exile following the downfall of the Ottoman Empire gathered for the first time ever in the London Embassy in February in an event hosted by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

SABAH went and knocked on the door of one of the remaining members of the Ottoman family who resides in England. The oldest remaining member of the dynasty, Osman Selaheddin Osmanoğlu, who is the grandson to Sultan Murad V, relayed to us his experience of being one of the remaining members of such a legacy:

THEY TRAVELLED FROM COUNTRY TO COUNTRY: “My father, Ali Vasıb Efendi was born in the Çırağan Palace. He was a graduate of Galatasaray High School and was sent into exile at the age of 21. They first went to Budapest, Hungary where they stayed for six months. Then he and my grandfather settled in Nice, France where they lived for 11 years. My mother is the granddaughter of Sultan Mehmed V. They later went to Egypt, which became a central location for members of the Ottoman dynasty. I was born there during World War II.” (more…)


The New York Times website has a short documentary about Jacob Mach, a refugee from Sudan who became a police officer in Atlanta, Georgia. Check it out here.

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