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What lies ahead after Pope Francis’ visit to Canada? 

Here are the highlights of the pontiff’s visit and what comes next after Pope Francis toured Canada

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Pope Francis

Pope Francis may have returned to Rome after a six-day tour of Canada, but the work of reconciliation with Indigenous communities will continue in his wake.

The visit was the fulfilment of the pontiff’s promise to visit Canada and deliver an in-person apology for Christians’ role in residential schools which saw thousands of Indigenous children ripped from their families, horrifically abused and often killed. 

Dubbed “Walking Together,” the tour continued despite the cancellation of the Pope’s tour of Africa earlier in July, owing to health concerns. 

The Pope began the visit in the Western province of Alberta, with his much-anticipated apology. He later held mass and performed other rites before travelling to Quebec to hold a prayer service in which he acknowledged victims of sexual abuse. His last stop was to the northern territory of Nunavut, where he met with residential school survivors in the capital of Iqaluit.

Here are the highlights of Pope Francis’ visit and what lies ahead:

Pope Francis’ apology 

The pontiff’s first formal event was his apology at Maskwacis, a community in central Alberta which is home to four Indigenous nations.

“When the European colonists first arrived here, there was a great opportunity to bring about a fruitful encounter between cultures, traditions and forms of spirituality. Yet for the most part that did not happen,” he told those gathered, recalling stories from survivors of “how the policies of assimilation ended up systematically marginalizing the indigenous peoples.”

Through the residential school system, their “languages and cultures were denigrated and suppressed,” the Pope noted. He also reflected on “how children suffered physical, verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse; how they were taken away from their homes at a young age, and how that indelibly affected relationships between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren”.

“I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” he said.

The Pope noted that the apology “is only the first step” and “an important part of this process will be to conduct a serious search into the facts of what took place in the past and to assist the survivors of the residential schools to experience healing from the traumas they suffered.”

Moccasins returned

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When an Indigenous delegation from Canada visited The Vatican earlier in the year, they gave Pope Francis two pairs of children’s moccasins which he described “as a sign of the suffering endured by Indigenous children, particularly those who, unfortunately, never came back from the residential schools.” He was asked to return the moccasins on his visit to Canada, which he did after his apology.

“I would like to reflect on this symbol, which over the past few months has kept alive my sense of sorrow, indignation and shame,” the pontiff said. “The memory of those children is indeed painful; it urges us to work to ensure that every child is treated with love, honour and respect. At the same time, those moccasins also speak to us of a path to follow, a journey that we desire to make together. We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.”

Mixed reactions 

Pope Francis’ words were met with a range of responses, from anger or retraumatisation for some, to closure and healing for others.

“I see Pope Francis’s apology today as only the first step in the Church making amends with our People,” said George Arcand Jr., Chief of Alexander First Nation and Treaty Six Grand Chief, in a press release. “There’s a lot of work to be done. … I am hopeful — Pope Francis has shown grace. He can lead the change for his people and we are prepared to walk alongside them on their reconciliation journey. I thank him for honouring our requests to deliver this apology in person. It is a gift for many.”

“The church and the government, they need to step up. You can’t just say I’m sorry and walk away. There has to be effort, there has to be work and more meaningful action behind it,” said Desmond Bull, Chief of Louis Bull Tribe.

“This apology — we could take it. Accept it. And move forward the best we know how. Or we can be stuck,” added Chief Greg Desjarlais of Frog Lake First Nation. “I want to encourage the Survivors to move forward in a good way. Because we are the products of these Survivors. Some call them thrivers. They’re the drivers as well that are going to help change the landscape for our children and grandchildren.”

“There was no mention in his apology of releasing the documents that we desperately need across Canada,” said Evelyn Korkmaz, a residential school survivor and advocate. “These documents have our history. These documents hold where these lost souls were buried. These documents hold the identification of these children, it would give their families, loved ones, closure. Everybody needs closure in order to heal and move on.”

A meaningful gift

After the apology, Chief Wilton Littlechild of the Ermineskin Cree Nation outfitted Pope Francis with a traditional headdress made of eagle feathers. It was a significant gesture rich in meaning.

In an interview with journalist Brandi Morin (who is Cree, Iroquois and French), the chief revealed the headdress belonged to his late grandfather. 

“One of the things I learned … being raised by my grandparents, is you don’t criticize other culture’s traditions,” said the chief. “In our traditional way, you would welcome … dignitaries, and many other tribes have given headdresses to a lot of other people like ministers and senators and business people. 

“We decided at home, as a community, to welcome him with a gift because he came into our territory. And we were actually flabbergasted that he chose us … All across the country, and we were picked. We didn’t lobby for it. We were just chosen to be the one where he would give his apology.” 

What comes next?

At the end of the visit, the Bishops of Canada acknowledged the duties tasked to them by the pontiff, including helping survivors and families heal from their traumas. 

“We have heard this call,” the group said in a press release, committing to reviewing an updated action plan in the fall. Among the demands received from Indigenous communities were calls for more transparency for residential school records; help to address systemic injustices Indigenous people continue to face, and working to promote healing and reconciliation.

“It is our hope that the relationships forged in this planning process, particularly with Indigenous partners at both the national and local levels, will grow well beyond this visit and serve as the foundation for the work that lies ahead.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Religion

OPINION: Taliban’s ban on women in parks is misogyny disguised as Islam

Islam has a rich history of women playing an active role in society, so why has the Taliban banned them from visiting parks?

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The Taliban like to ban things – well, after all, it’s in their name. 

The militant-group-turned-government of Afghanistan continues to bar women from basic activities that are taken for granted in most other countries, all in the name of Islam. 

In the latest of such restrictions, women in Afghanistan were banned from going to parks and fun fairs by the Taliban. This was closely followed by banning women from gyms, and public baths a couple of days ago – places that had already been segregated by gender. So the ‘Morality’ Ministry’s explanation for excluding women for not following the Islamic custom of modesty and segregation of sexes, just doesn’t hold up. 

The Taliban cites Islam as its motivating factor for all of these restrictions, just as it has always used Islam as justification for its terror activities. But how true is that, really? 

In light of the latest crackdowns, some say that using Islam as justification is merely a ploy for the Taliban to pre-emptively suppress their people. But that’s where the Taliban make their worst mistake.

If one takes just a glimpse at early Islam at the time of its founder, Muhammad, the Holy Prophet, one comes away with a very different picture of society and women’s larger-than-life role in it. 

Taliban bans women from parks

In a battle between the idol-worshipping Meccans and the vastly outnumbered early Muslims, the fearlessness of one of Prophet Muhammad’s female companions, Umme Ammarah drew the attention of the Prophet himself who is recorded to have said, “By God! Today Umme Ummaarah has preceded all men in courage!”

Along with other Muslim women at the time, Umme Ammarah nursed wounded soldiers and gave them water on the battlefield. It was while she was running between the ranks of the wounded at the battle of Uhud with her waterpot that she saw very few men were left to protect the Prophet from the enemy. She immediately grabbed a sword and began to defend him with such ferocity that the Prophet would declare later: “On the day of Uhud, everywhere I looked, I saw Umme Ammarah fighting.”

Mount Uhud 2
Mount Uhud, Medina, Saudi Arabia

A man recorded to have been running away had a shield that the Prophet took and handed over to Umme Ammarah, whilst giving her words of encouragement and praise as she fought the enemy closing in around them. She sustained twelve different injuries on her body after the battle and bled heavily. It was the Prophet who had her bandaged under his supervision and prayed for her while declaring her bravery outmatched everyone else on the battlefield. 

A far cry from the Taliban’s Afghanistan in the 21st century in which women are being left untreated due to the doctor being male.  

Umme Ummaarah was skilled in sword fighting and she wasn’t the only Muslim woman to be so. Khaulah Bint Azwer led five hundred men against the Byzantines and was captured and taken by the enemy. She was seen ripping through the ranks of the Byzantine army alone after her brother’s capture, felling soldiers as she went, while all the Muslim men stood back and watched in amazement, assuming it was the great fighter Khalid Bin Waleed under full body armour battling a full army himself. After she roused the rest of the Muslims to go back and rescue her brother, both Khalid and her brother commended her for her bravery. 

It wasn’t just war where early Muslim women excelled. Women were scholars and writers and intellectuals, all encouraged and inspired by the Prophet Muhammad. And they were taught sciences and arts by Muslim men and in turn, taught them too. One of the greatest and if not the first scholar of Islam after the Prophet was Aisha, his wife. She learned from her husband directly and went on to raise a generation of Muslims in the faith – both men and women. 

“Education is mandatory for every Muslim”

Prophet Muhmmad

Segregation and modesty of dress were maintained, but it was required for both sexes, as Islam actually teaches – not just for women. Men are told to lower their gazes in front of women in the Holy Qur’an, before the commandment for women to cover up.

The Prophet was not just a religious figure who had no time for his family. His wife Aisha narrates that he once challenged her to a race, which she won, while another time, he held up his cloak for her as a screen so she could watch a spear fighting display and didn’t move until she decided she had had enough.  

The Prophet also said that the man who has three daughters and educates them and raises them well will enter paradise. “Education is mandatory for every Muslim,” is an authentic recorded saying of the Prophet. But by barring women from education, the Taliban have perhaps closed the doors of Paradise to many Afghan men. 

The Prophet’s first wife, Khadija, who he remained happily married to for twenty years till her death, was many years older than him and a successful businesswoman. She proposed to the Prophet after being impressed with his honesty in the marketplace. She encouraged and supported her husband throughout his mission. We can never forget that the first Muslim after the Prophet Muhammad was a woman – a wealthy, powerful businesswoman who was devoted and loyal to her husband.

When Muslims ruled Spain for seven hundred years, it was again Muslim women who come out on top. Take Ā’isha bint Ahmad bin Muhammad from Cordoba, about whom the famous historian Ibn Hayyān wrote, “There was none in the entire Iberian Peninsula in her era that could be compared with her in terms of knowledge, excellence, literary skill, poetic ability, eloquence, virtue, purity, generosity, and wisdom. She would often write panegyrics in praise of the kings of her era and would give speeches in their court. She was a very skilled calligrapher and copied many manuscripts of the Qur’an and other books. She was an avid collector of books, of which she had a very large amount, and was very concerned with the pursuit of knowledge. She was also very wealthy and died chaste, without having ever married. She died in the year 400 AH [1009].”

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Or the Tunisian-born Fatima Al Fihri who built the Al Qarawiyyin University in Fez, Morocco with her inheritance (that’s right, Islam gave women the right of inheritance long before the West clocked on), a project which took 18 years and which culminated in the establishment becoming one of the leading intellectual and spiritual centres of the Islamic Golden Age.

And such women were not rare at the time. It is recorded in the 900s AD that there were more than 170 female scribes in Cordoba while Spain was under Muslim Rule. Perhaps one of the most famous scribes was a Muslim woman who was born a Spanish slave, Lubna of Cordoba. She was later appointed as curator of the palace library which contained 500,000 books.

Muslim women need to remember the role that their female Muslim ancestors played in overcoming oppression, whether religious, political or intellectual. It was by the force of their own strength, bravery and intelligence. In fact, they surpassed their male counterparts in success. And they had the full consent of their religion, rather it was their faith was inspired and motivated them.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Israel

Why Jews can’t pray at the Temple Mount

The Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has seen storms of ultra-nationalist Jews attempting to gain authority over it, but why is it so contentious?

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Are Muslims to blame the ban on hews to worship in the Al Aqsa Mosque?

Standing within a 35 acre compound called the Al Haram Al Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) by Muslims, and the Temple Mount by Jews, Al Aqsa Mosque has seen storms of ultra-nationalist Jews attempting to gain authority over it. Their claim is that there is a curtailment of religious freedom at the holy site. where once stood two temples, one destroyed by Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the other by Romans in 70 CE. 

The site holds historical significance for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, but has for years been a point of contention in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since the end of the Six Day War in 1967, which cemented a historical Status Quo, allowing Jews and Christians to visit the compound but reserving prayer there only for Muslims, Zionist groups have rallied to seek control over it. 

It’s this which Dr Jordan Peterson, in his latest video, draws attention to. In enthralling language, the conservative self-help guru relates to his upward of five million followers a story of victimhood against an oppressive, almighty force. But what exactly is he saying?

Peterson refers to his visit to the compound, where he was spotted amongst a congregation of Jewish worshippers on the first day of Sukkot, a Jewish holy festival (he says he was there for an upcoming documentary). 

Describing himself as an “uncraven slave”, he claims he felt “a spirit of compulsion and force at work there at Al Aqsa”, which he endeavoured to resist. He describes Islam as an “unnecessary tyranny”, which bars Jews and Christians from worshipping at the Al Aqsa complex. He doesn’t stop there. He also raises an objection against gender segregation at the mosque. 

Let’s take his first claim. Are Jews and Christians not allowed to pray at this site?

In short, no. But it isn’t Muslims who prohibit it. For Jews, the compound is the place of the Holy of Holies, an innermost sacred spot where once stood the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. 

Jewish law prohibits treading on this holy point as only those who have attained ritual purity should access it, but no one can and for those that do, punishment can be death. The entry of Jews inside the Temple Mount itself is forbidden under religious law since the location of the sacred area has never been confirmed. Some claim walking on some areas of the compound is permissible if purity laws are followed. But the act of worship itself contradicts Jewish custom. 

For centuries, Muslims, Jews and Christians have clashed over the site. But in 1757, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Osman III sought to bring an end to factional Christian groups over another building in the Old City, the Church of the Sepulchre. The Status Quo, as it was known, also reaffirmed a ban on non-Muslims worshipping there, but allowed Jewish worship in another part of the compound, the Western Wall. They still do.

And Orthodox Jews don’t contest this. In 1921, the Chief Rabbinate himself banned Jews from the site. 

The Status Quo was internationally recognised in the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, and various other treaties over the years have legitimised it. Israel itself has accepted it. After its occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, an arrangement was made between the Islamic Waqf, an Islamic trust controlled by Jordanian government, and the Israeli government that the former would retain control over the compound, and Israel would control its external security. This agreement maintained the ban on non-Muslim worship. 

But why did they agree? Because internationally East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory. That, and the fear of opposition from the Middle East. 

Whilst generally Israeli governments have always maintained the Status Quo, attempts to breach it have been many. Notably, by former Israeli Opposition Leader, Ariel Sharon in 2000, and Yehuda Glick, head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, which is one of the groups intent on replacing the Muslim holy sites in the Noble Sanctuary with a Third Temple. They receive funding by the Israeli government as well as foreign-based groups. 

And as far right-wing nationalism tightens its grip, the Israeli government has also sought to deviate from the Status Quo. Former prime minister Naftali Bennett made a statement in July 2021, that Israel would preserve the freedom for Jews to worship at the Temple Mount (although he later withdrew this remark).

Israeli forces routinely impede on the rights of Muslims worshippers at the mosque. 

No one has found the exact location of the Holy of Holies, although the nationalist Temple Movement claims it can. But the real reason, some say, is political: an encroachment on Palestinian land and an expulsion of its people, which Orthodox Jews do not condone. 

Peterson blames Muslims. But his assertion evades one telling truth: Islam does not ban non-Muslim worship at any mosque, not lest the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Prophet Muhammad permitted Christians to pray at one in Medinah, which is Islam’s second holiest city. The only act that is forbidden is idolatry. 

But what else does Peterson go on to say? 

He also points to gender segregation at Al Aqsa Mosque. Although what he suggests is a unique Islamic custom has long been practised in many other religions. Ultra Orthodox Judaism still does, and this is witnessed in the very premises of the Temple Mount. Former Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu scrapped plans in 2017 that would have seen the intermixing of men and women at the Western Wall, which is  a plaza within the compound where Jews are allowed to pray. The deal, which was being negotiated between Conservative Jews and the West over a four-year period, would have ended this traditional Jewish custom at the wall, but pressure from Ultra-Orthodox Jews forced it to collapse. 

Peterson’s words are an enchanting lure to those who might already be prejudiced. He pedals his Islamophobia with untruths wrapped in elaborate language. But digging deeper reveals only manipulation and unfounded terror. 


 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Education

Make religious education in Northern Ireland more diverse, says UNESCO

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Make religious education in Northern Ireland more diverse, says author of UNESCO study

A study by UNESCO Education Centre concluded that schools in Northern Ireland should scrap Christian influenced religious education and daily acts of collective worship and replace religiously segregated schools with those that are more religiously diverse.

AnalystNews spoke to Dr Matthew Milliken, the study’s author, to find out how he thinks a more religiously open and diverse education system could bring much needed change to students at Northern Ireland’s mainstream schools. 

Dr Milliken says that the purpose of this study was “to present a vision on empirical and academic evidence of what an education system in Northern Ireland could look like.” A vision that recognises various failings of the system which includes completely disregarding the idea of teaching students the different types of beliefs that society currently has, and the impact this has had on children who may be part of a faith which differs from the traditional Northern Irish beliefs of Catholicism or Protestantism. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which brought an end to thirty years of the Troubles, introduced a new devolved government where unionists and nationalists would share power. But the arrangement did little for the country’s education system. 

Unionists who believe Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK are usually Protestants and nationalists who believe that Northern Ireland should become part of a United Ireland are mainly Catholic. As the power to govern is shared between the two sides, schools have become completely segregated and students have been left with only two choices: attend Catholic or state Protestant schools. More than twenty-four years after the agreement, a surprising 93% of students in Northern Ireland still attend segregated schools. 

“They still go to schools that are dominated by a Catholic ethos, present a particular image of Irish culture and Irish identity or they attend schools that are influenced, if not controlled, by Protestant denominations and propagate a particularly British view of society,” explains Dr Milliken. Students in Northern Ireland are kept religiously segregated from as young as three to eighteen. 

But it’s not only the students. Teachers, too, attend separate training colleges. Dr Milliken elaborates, “They then go into university or for the sake of teachers, into separate training colleges. There’s a separate training college for Catholic schools and there’s a separate training college for state schools. And those teachers can go through their entire career, from age 3 through all of their school, through all of their further education, to going straight back into the classroom without ever having sat alongside anybody of the other faith.” 

It hasn’t gone uncontested. The need for greater religious awareness has been a growing matter, and it predates the Good Friday Agreement. “There is a small integrated education system that accounts for about 7% of the schools here. It started about 40 years ago against great opposition. It was strongly resisted by the churches in particular,” states Dr Milliken. 

And resistance has persisted. In July this year, a high court judge ruled that exclusively Christian religious education was unlawful. It came following a legal challenge by a father and daughter whose lawyers argued that the syllabus taught at the seven-year-old’s controlled primary school, violated her educational rights as laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Catholic schools in Northern Ireland prioritise a view of history from an Irish perspective, whilst their state-controlled Protestant counterparts learn the British version of history. This means that in a Catholic school, children learn the Irish language, focus on issues to do with Ireland, and understand British issues through an Irish lens. However, in a Protestant state-controlled school, children are more likely to learn a British version and understanding of history, which means learning history the same way it is taught in mainland British schools. 

The influence this has on wider society may be profound. Everything is taught differently – from academic subjects to sports. So for example, a Protestant school normally has as part of its physical education curriculum rugby, cricket, and hockey, but in a Catholic school, sports closely allied with Irish national identity such as Gaelic football and hurling are played. 

The issue “goes beyond religion” Dr Milliken says. “To simplify to religion doesn’t really help because at the core, both sides are Christian. However, the roots of that Christian-centric education system go right through the education system here.” Boards of education have representatives from the three Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church which are responsible for educational administration. And there are separate boards for the controlled state-side and the Catholic side. 

To entrench matters further, places on the board of governors are protected. Dr Milliken told Analyst News: “A Catholic school is likely only to have Catholics sitting on the board of governors. A controlled-state school is likely only to have Protestants on that board, and Protestants only from three particular denominations. There are no protected places on any of them that management are governors or people from any other faith.” All schools are required to teach a religious syllabus that is laid down exclusively by those four Churches. Schools are “controlled, inspired, dominated by Christian thinking. And pupils do not have the opportunity to study what they refer to as World Religions: Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, until they reach post-primary level,” he says. 

Even so, the way that Christianity is taught is intense; a Catholic primary school must have teachers who have undertaken an additional qualification that is solely approved by the Catholic Bishops, who then sanction whether they can teach the Catholic faith in line with the teachings of the Church. The Certificate in Religious Education is one of the many interlinked matters that have been identified as limiting opportunities for teachers in Northern Ireland to accessing employment outside of those schools associated with their own educational background and community identity. “That certificate is a large barrier to Protestant teachers getting a job in a Catholic school,” according to Dr Milliken but “there is time for change now.”. 

From a human rights perspective, faith schooling is considered a key part of schools’ ethos. Children are entitled to skip religious education lessons if they follow different faiths but they usually end up sitting in the corridor on their own. And this is problematic as Dr Milliken explains. “They are being excluded. It’s one thing if they want to identify themselves and their difference in the class. But when they’re being excluded and identified as different by the system of education. That’s not a healthy way to be.”

The result is isolation and a feeling of victimhood. If a fair and open-minded religious curriculum was taught rather than “a lesson that propagated a particular worldview,” these children would feel much more comfortable explaining, sharing, and talking about their views and faith. 

Dr Milliken told Analyst News that exploring religion would ultimately help them understand other people’s faith and their cultures: “I think there is a need to help young people, to find out right from wrong, to explore their values and belief systems. I think there’s an absolute need to help young people form their own ethical view of the world.” 

It doesn’t help that certain topics are not broached. Dr Milliken says: “They don’t explore the issues of controversy that still affect this part of the world. They don’t look at issues of faith, issues of identity, issues of culture, issues of nationality, issues of politics, issues of history, that are shared. Those are the issues that teachers need to come to terms with.” 

He states in his study that controversial issues should be taught in classrooms such as ‘shared education’ which “is an effort to fund joint activity between divided schools.” Supported by state funding, he envisages Catholic and Protestant primary schools working in collaboration and discussing issues that surpass “safe territory.” 

Change could come through an engagement with those controversial issues, opening up debate and listening to alternative views without prejudice or the possibility of indoctrination. Whilst acknowledging the many differences between the two educational approaches, Dr Milliken is hopeful that his study may draw on their similarities instead and “bring people forward to challenge and question the state of school.” And although “it’s not a quick fix”, he feels the research offers a steppingstone to further questions about the school system in Northern Ireland. Dr Milliken is adamant that “we can have a more inclusive system of education that becomes a more shared system of education. One that isn’t backward looking, and one that better prepares our children for a shared future.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Religion

Could the UK revoke citizenship of British Muslims?

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Can the Uk revoke British Muslim Citizenship?

The Institute of Race Relations, has raised its concerns about British citizenship being reduced from a right to a privilege for Muslims. According to the report, Britain holds the power to strip people of their nationality without them being notified thus lowering the status of British Muslim citizens to that of a “second class, disposable and contingent”. However, these laws are not practiced in the UK exclusively. Many countries in the EU also exercise thepower of involuntary revoking of citizenship of their residents.

Along with the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, and Bulgaria, laws in France equip officials to revoke the nationalities of individuals on the basis of disloyalty along with fraudulent acquisitions. Similarly, if any resident of these countries and ten others implementing the same type of laws,commit treason or be an accomplice to a crime against national security, they will have to give up their citizenship.

In the UK, statistics show that since 2010, around 214 people of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent have been deprived of their British citizenship. The figures reached their highest in 2017 with the rise in Islamophobia in Britain after the fall of the Syrian ISIS empire. Also European countries, for example Denmark, practiced this law against dual nationality holders who played an active role in the operations of ISIS.  

According to British Muslim legal consultant and lawyer, Muzammil Abid, these laws have stirred up a debate with a petition getting more than 300 000 signatures for the removal of clause nine from the borders and nationality bill.  Abid told Analyst News that those cases mentioned in the reports have not only been thoroughly reviewed but the rulings on them can also be challenged. 

Although the government has already rejected the petition to revoke clause nine, in its response it makes clear that “it does not intend to deny a person their statutory right of appeal where a decision to deprive has been made…Once a person makes contact with the Home Office, they are given a copy of the deprivation decision notice.”

While the UK government continues to defend the law by calling it “a policy to keep the public safe,” its past of colonial injustices remains one of the biggest concerns and a source of public outrage. The Nationality, Immigration, and Asylum Act passed in 2002 was the first to pave the way for the legalized power of revoking citizenship. Until 2014 anyone who was accused of carrying out any action that proved to be “prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK” could be deprived of their nationality even if they were born in the UK.

Although the government has held the power to strip people of their nationality since 2002, by passing clause nine of the Nationality and Border Bill of 2021-2022, the act of depriving Muslims and people of color of their citizenship, especially if they hold citizenship of another country, has been facilitated but it’s also been brought into the public eye. 

The author of the report, Frances Webber, who was formerly a barrister in the Garden Courts, argued that clause nine increases the complications in the neutralization process and reinforces the notions of ethnic communities as lesser citizens of the country.

The exercise of these powers has impacted the lives of many families including that of various women who became subject to child trafficking. After they lost their British nationality, they were left stranded in prison camps far from a safe home. 

Various Lords and representatives have voiced their concerns about the indefinite power given by clause nine. According to Lord Ahmad, it could impact the “already strained” relations of British Muslim youth with society who  “… already feel disenfranchised. These proposals would only compound those feelings, making their ‘Britishness’ seem like a temporary state, removable at will, rather than a permanent part of their identity.”

Similarly in a letter to the home security office,  Sayeeda Warsi, Nosheena Mobarik and Frances D’Souza reminded us that clause nine challenges the values “of fair play and the rule of law that make UK citizenship so prized around the world.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Religion

Arab Gulf States: “Remove content that violates Islamic values or face legal action, Arab Gulf states tell Netflix”

Six Arab Gulf States as well as Saudi Arabia have threatened Netflix with legal measures if they continue showing content with any kind of LGBTQ+ representation, since it does not align with ‘Islamic values’.

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Six Arab Gulf States as well as Saudi Arabia have threatened Netflix with legal measures if they continue showing content with any kind of LGBTQ+ representation, since it does not align with ‘Islamic values’.

A joint statement was published by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It did not mention any content specifically, but said that it “contradicts Islamic and societal values”.  The statement also mentioned that “the platform was contacted to remove this content, including content directed to children, and to ensure adherence to the laws.”

On Saudi state TV a woman, who was identified as a behavioural consultant, also called Netflix the “official sponsor of homosexuality”. Another segment also suggested that Netflix could be banned in Saudi Arabia due to programming deemed to negatively influence children.

“Even though it might seem harsh to some, these bans are understandable. Since countries like Saudi Arabia are Muslim countries, whose laws are also somewhat based on Islamic values, laws like this are justified. Just because the Western world is normalising these things, doesn’t mean we have to adapt our values to theirs.” Anisa Ali, a Saudi woman living in Germany, told Analyst News.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and 12 other countries have banned movies with gay characters before. Just earlier this year Walt Disney’s new ‘Buzz Lightyear’ movie, a movie based on the Toy Story franchise, was banned in the UAE, due to showing two women kissing. In 2020 the Pixar movie ‘Onward’, an animated movie set in a fantasy world with elves, was banned in Arab Gulf States such as Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, as it showed a female character saying she’s lesbian. Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’, which was released earlier this year, was also banned in some Muslim Arab countries, because it also featured America Chavez, a lesbian character. Some fans even blamed Xochiti Gomez, the actress that played America, for ‘ruining’ the movie, despite the character already being gay in the comics.

As well as content featuring LGBTQ+ themes, an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s show ‘Patriot Act’ criticising Prince Mohammed, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi as well as Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemeni war, was also removed off Saudi Netflix.

These bans are happening due to the contradiction with Islamic values. People of the LGBTQ+ community are seen as sinful, which is why most Muslim countries have not legalised homosexuality. However, countries like Bahrain, which have legalised homosexuality for citizens above the age of 21, still maintain anti-gay views, since they also joined the GCC’s recent statement and have not legalised same-sex marriage.  In Qatar, along with several other Muslim countries such as Kuwait and Somalia, homosexuality is punishable by law for up to 10 years. Other countries such as Sudan or Mauritania have the death penalty for same-sex relationships.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Hijab-Wearing Muslim Women Face Discrimination in Hiring Practices

Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil.

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Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil. Their Hijab is a barrier towards their participation in a western society, not because of any barrier the head covering presents, but because of the discrimination and prejudice surrounding it.

A new report from a group of researchers at the University of Oxford, Utrecht, and Berlin revealed that Muslim women in the Netherlands and Germany are less likely to get hired for high customer-contact jobs if they wear the Hijab. The field experiment also included Spain, where they found less discrimination compared to the other two countries.

In an interview with Analyst News, senior University of Oxford researcher, and co-author of the paper, Mariña Fernández Reino said that the funding and reason for publishing this paper comes from a push from the European commission “to assess and measure discrimination against ethnic minorities.”

The paper reports that the average callback rate for native women in the Netherlands who did not wear the Hijab in their application photo, was around 70%. But for women who did wear the Hijab in their photos the callback rate was only 35%.

For a country like the Netherlands, known as one of the more accommodating nations towards religious minorities, these statistics are concerning. This shows that employers take Hijabi women at face-value, in a country that is normally known for its progressive practices towards people of all backgrounds.

The ongoing politicisation of visible Muslim women has prejudiced people — customers and employees alike — against those that choose to wear the veil. The Netherlands, despite its otherwise progressive stance on religious freedom, has policies in place that discriminate against Muslim women, such as the burqa ban. But the discriminatory practices that have been proven to exist in employment fields further ostracize Muslim women who wear the Hijab from participating in society.

Germany had a similar, albeit, less staggering, difference than the Netherlands: 53% of native German unveiled applicants received a callback for their job applications, whereas the veiled applicants received callbacks at a rate of around 25%.

Khola Hübsch, a German journalist known as the “face of Muslim women” in Germany tells Analyst News that, “In Germany we had public discussions on the hijab for years.”

In these discussions, however, she points out that Hijabi Muslim women were never included themselves. This meant many prejudices were perpetuated through one-sided dialogue. She says, “As a consequence, we had hijab-bans for teachers and public servants.”

Although these bans were later rescinded, they left their impact, ostracising Hijabi women in society — and thus, the workplace.

Spain which was described in the paper as a country with “high competition for jobs in a context of high unemployment” had a 25% average callback rate for non-Hijabi native Spanish women compared to 15.8% for Hijabi applicants.

Reino says that in addition to competition and unemployment, the lack of discussion surrounding the Hijab on a political level in Spain as compared to Germany and the Netherlands could be a reason it didn’t matter much in employers’ decision for callbacks.

The study further looked at the difference in discrimination in callback rates between non-Hijabi Muslim women and Hijabi Muslim women, to see at what extent employers consider the veil as a barrier to a job.

For high-contact jobs, such as front desk reception, the average callback rates among non-Hijabi Muslim women were 42%, 52%, and 14% for the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. These rates are still less compared to the native majority callback rates, perhaps showcasing a general discrimination towards Muslim women.

But for Hijabi women, the callback rates for these jobs were 18% for both the Netherlands and Germany, and 10% for Spain, showing an even greater disparity.

Reino tells Analyst News the logic they put behind the numbers is that human resource officers during the hiring process consider that, “women that wear a Hijab will be seen and contacted by customers.”

Due to negative societal beliefs surrounding the Hijab in countries like the Netherlands and Germany, she says, “customers might discriminate against employees, and thus businesses, so having public Hijabi employees might be considered bad for business.”

Reino says, “The main take of all this discrimination study is that what happens in the labour market reflects what happens in society.”

To change the inequality and discrimination in hiring practices, the change must start at a societal level. The larger anti-Islam narrative in the West must be studied and addressed.

To do that, Hübsch says “It is important to give those a public voice who are affected. Hijab-wearing women must be involved in the debate.”

Both Reino and Hübsch say that in addition to training employers to remove their prejudices, educational work to debunk the myths surrounding Islam and the Hijab must also be implemented.

The change in the labour market will have to be in tandem with the change in society.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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