Citizenship or Residency? The Muslim Immigration Dilemma Facing the West

b2Here is an opinion editorial outlining one existing approach to Islamic emigration vis a vis residency and citizenship.  You probably will be surprised at those countries which, today, use residency permits, sometimes for multiple generations.  It has not often been raised as a solution here in the USA.
Fr. Orthohippo
Opinion Editorial
Citizenship or Residency? The Muslim Immigration Dilemma Facing the West
By Peter Ahern

(AINA) — Western nations are not alone in experiencing difficult times with their Muslim minority communities. In Asia, ongoing insurrections by Muslim militants in the southern Philippines, southern Thailand, as well as in China’s far-flung western provinces, have assumed a distinctly religious hue in recent years. Likewise, Muslim militants among minority communities in African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and the Central African Republic have been increasingly assertive. It appears that the international tide of Islamic revivalism is a cause of social unrest wherever Muslim minorities are to be found.What is different about Western countries is that they are targets for increasing flows of Muslim refugees and migrants, fleeing the turmoil of the Middle East. 2015 had barely begun when Europeans were shocked to discover shiploads of largely Muslim refugees abandoned in the Mediterranean by people smugglers. A widely held sense of humanitarian compassion and concern, the legacy of deeply embedded Christian values, encourages many Westerners to champion the rights of such Muslim newcomers.

Nevertheless, not all in the West welcome the rapidly growing Muslim minorities across Europe, North America and the South Pacific. As these Muslim communities grow, so too does a militant extremist minority within the minority. In 2014 anti-terror raids on Muslim communities by police forces occurred across the West, of a kind that would never have been conceivable 50 years ago before the growth of these minority communities.

In short, an increasing sense of concern is palpable across Western countries. Late 2014 witnessed protest marches by thousands concerned about creeping Islamization across Germany. Local and national elections in France, Britain, Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere have seen the rise of right-wing groups voicing public concerns about increased Islamic influence, while majority political parties refuse to address this issue.

Western policies of multiculturalism are founded on the principle that immigration should not discriminate on the basis of nationality, creed, race or any other distinguishing feature among people. Yet such refusal to take account of the differences and oppositions that are essential to human nature mean that well-intentioned Western immigration programs are setting up the rivalries and conflicts of the future.

A case from Australia illustrates the dilemma. In the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows, the Shire Council, true to the principles of multicultural tolerance, approved the construction of a large Shi’ite mosque in 2013. However, in this instance, the proposed mosque will be located next to a house of worship of the Ancient Assyrian Church of the East. This church is home to many Christians who have fled Muslim persecution in the Middle East to find refuge in Australia. Such a hands-off policy in the approvals process, ignoring issues of community sensitivity and past history, reflects a naivete that bodes ill for future community relations. In this particular case, there were widespread protests by the resident Christian community, with a church poll indicating that 91% of the congregation will leave the church if the mosque construction proceeds. Such protests fell on deaf ears among members of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which issued a final ruling on the dispute in July 2014 (story).

How are Western countries to deal with the rapid growth of increasingly awkward Muslim minority populations? The solution is not to be found in turning off the taps that allow such immigration to take place; calls for a moratorium on Muslim immigration have been heard across the West in the past but have gained no traction and are unlikely to do so in the future.

Ironically, an answer for Western countries may exist within the Muslim world itself, in the form of policies towards residency and citizenship followed by the six Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. These States — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait — have a combined population of 46 million people, of whom almost 50% are expatriates. Many of these expatriates have been living in these countries for several generations and, while they have residency permits which allow them to live and work, they do not have citizenship rights.

Western countries need to carefully consider the ramifications of present immigration policies which facilitate the early acquisition of citizenship, thereby tying the hands of authorities if some immigrant groups refuse to integrate. The record over the last 50 years suggests that Muslim minority communities do pose unique challenges to social harmony and integration. Western nations cannot be expected to turn away Muslim newcomers facing situations of distress and hardship, but they could consider lengthy periods with limited residential rights but not citizenship in order to assess the degree to which newcomers contribute positively to social cohesion. Today’s Western political and social leaders owe nothing less to future generations.

Peter Ahern is a British freelance writer on religion, politics and society, currently residing in Australia.

Views and opinions expressed in guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AINA.
Guest Editorial Policy

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Originally posted on Fr. Orthohippo:

Free counters!

started November 13, 2011  Page views seem to change weirdly.

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Port Huron, MI Cleveland elementary school sees quick results in test scores with year-round calendar

Cleveland sees quick results in test scores with year-round calendar

WoW with brady[The  picture above of Mrs. Hill with students from the classroom where I get to be foster grandparent, helping teaching them.  Judy has the same students in the next classroom. The students are testing at or better than their last spring scores, and also equaling or bettering the highest scores from the district’s “elite” elementary buildings. This year around teaching so far has bettered the traditional school year schedule.]
Fr. Orthohippo]

Cleveland Elementary was a busy place on Thursday, eight days into the start of their new school year.

Kindergarteners in Kim Renno’s class were getting the feeling of saying the alphabet. Third graders in Heather Hill’s class worked on their vocabulary building in small groups. Kathy Cilluffo’s third graders learned about Atlantic puffins using video and print texts.

And second grader Joseph Racz, 6, presented one of his writing samples in Megan Thill’s class using a document camera and sound field projection device.

Cleveland’s 299 K-5 students are in their second year of a pilot program transitioning to a year-round balanced calendar. The calendar has the same amount of days as traditional school calendars but is spread out over the year.

Port Huron Schools Board of Education will hear an update Monday at its monthly meeting on how the school did in the first year of the three-year program, funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Education. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Central Office Building, 2720 Riverside Drive.

Principal David Roberts said the report that will be going to the board includes test scores from the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress.

According to first year data, Cleveland students in math matched or outperformed the growth of students district-wide in three grade levels. In reading, Cleveland matched or outperformed the district in four grade levels.

The district’s new K-12 curriculum director, Chris Arrington, will present those and other findings to the board on Monday.

Scores are compared across buildings within the district and nationally. The tests are computer adaptive, meaning the test gets harder according to how well a student performs.

Arrington said the board could expand the program after the three-year pilot period if it continues to show good results. He said whether year-round programs work depends on implementation and quality teaching.

“Districts are giving this an opportunity and a chance because there is a body of data out there that says this can work if applied properly. Anything that we prove and that works for our children is on the table for discussion,” Arrington said.

“If it’s good for children and the data show that we’re helping students then we’re definitely going to take a look at expanding.”

He said priority schools are more likely to try full-year balanced calendars, although non-priority schools have tried it as well.

“I know that it’s not just set aside for at-risk or priority schools, but priority schools are more prone to try this because they’re in a position where they need to cultivate change and they want to create rapid turnaround in student growth,” Arrington said.

Students and staff at Cleveland attend school year round except for three-week spring breaks, three-week Christmas breaks, and four weeks off from the end of June to mid-July for mid-summer break. The program runs on four-day weeks in July and August.

Roberts said the success of the program at Cleveland also will take into account perception data from parents, students, teachers and community members.

“Overwhelmingly, the perception data is coming back that the parents really like it,” Roberts said. “We also hear from people that four-weeks (in the summer) is enough of a break. Kids are getting stir crazy, they want to be in school.”

Parent Cassandra Kendrick said she is happy with the program for her second grader.

“When he got out of kindergarten going into first grade, he was a bit slower but now…he’s not getting behind. He’s forgetting less easily. He’s not repeating what he learned the previous year. Most of the schools around here that’s what they do, they repeat what the kids did the previous year and it’s slowing the kids’ progress,” she said.

The full balanced calendar at Cleveland was designed by the previous principal Chris Collins and his staff, Roberts said. Collins is now principal at Thomas Edison Elementary.

Cleveland is one of a few districts across the state chosen to pilot a year round balanced calendar through $2 million in grants from the Michigan Department of Education. The department in August 2014 awarded $375,235 to Port Huron Schools after initially denying their request.

Contact Syeda Ferguson at or email her at Follow her on Twitter @shossainfe.

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Leopard injures one person as it roams into a school in India (And we think we have problem intruders at our schools…Fr. Orthohippo)

snow leapord(And we think we have problem intruders at our schools…Fr. Orthohippo)

Amateur video captures the frightening picture of a leopard inside a school in India’s southern Karnataka state on Thursday

One man has been injured after a leopard entered a private school in India’s southern Karnataka state on Thursday.

The man was attacked as he attempted to close a window in order to lock the wild animal inside a room.

Take a look at the video below to see the startling up-close footage of the leopard trapped inside the school.

A heavy police presence surrounded the school while staff announced a day’s holiday to ensure the safety of its pupils. Authorities eventually called in a team of vets to control the leopard with tranquilisers.

It is still unclear how the wild animal entered the school.

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This Article explains ISIL and its fundamental goals better than what I have seen before

Turkey’s 200-Year War against ‘ISIS’

Can Turkey be at the forefront of the latest battle against the Islamic State?

July 24, 2015

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In 1818, Amir Abdullah bin Saud was taken to Istanbul for execution. This was no ordinary prisoner. He was leader of a rebellion that had occupied the two holy cities of Islam for a decade and had dared to declare the Ottoman sultan, Caliph of the Faithful, an unbeliever. Among the various public humiliations before ibn Saud’s execution—since his strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam forbade music—the Ottomans made him listen to the lute. But the cruelest punishments were reserved for the rebels’ religious leaders, some of whom were stuck into the muzzles of cannons and mortars and blown to pieces.

The rebellion clearly struck a nerve with the Ottomans. The rebels belonged to the Salafi tradition of Sunni Islam, meaning that they believed in a literal reading of the earliest Islamic texts. The mainstream Anatolian Sunnis of Turkey on the other hand, belong to the Hanafi-Maturidi tradition, which goes into textual interpretation to attain the true meaning of the Prophet’s teachings. It sprang out of an age of enlightenment, when Islamic civilization reached its zenith in mathematics, medicine, astronomy and the arts. The Ottomans saw themselves as the heirs of Islam’s natural evolution towards a higher civilization. They did not care to be called infidels.

Salafism had a marginal place in politics for much of the time since its 14th century beginnings when it was influenced significantly by the works and students of the prominent scholar Ibn Taymiyyah. It only started to gain a foothold when Ottoman rule slackened in the 19th century. At this time, a Salafist scholar named ibn Wahhab made a pact with Abdul Aziz, a tribal chief with ambitions to exert influence over Arabia. The two made Salafist ideology into their weapon in the form of the Ikhwan, an elite fighting force known for its religious zeal and brutality (no affiliation with the Egyptian group of the same name, Ikhwan al-Muslimun, the Muslim Brotherhood). The Ikhwan began to raid neighboring villages and eventually Iraq, on the pretext that anyone not of the Salafist creed was non-Muslim, and hence their “life and property was halal [religiously sanctioned].” The Ikhwan massacred women and children, and destroyed shrines, graves and works of art, all of which are offensive to the Salafist tradition. In 1803, Abdul Aziz entered the Holy City of Mecca. In the subsequent decade, his tribe would rule over an area roughly the size of present day Saudi Arabia

The Ottoman government tasked the Egyptian army—then subservient to Istanbul—to squash the rebellion. The Egyptians took some time to get into gear, but in 1812, they defeated the Ikhwan and recaptured Mecca and Medina. That’s when Abdullah bin Saud was sent to Istanbul to be executed.

But the Ikhwan did not disappear. In some sense they are the rational consequence of Salafi ideology, supported by a historical pattern. They represent a violent urge that is repressed and resurfaces throughout the decades. The Ikhwan came back onto the scene during World War I, when the British were supporting the Arab revolts against the Ottoman Empire. They helped the al-Saud family establish the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and wanted to push into Iraq, just as their ancestors had done, to “cleanse” the Shia. Even the Saudi king was disturbed by their zeal, and soon realized that they were incompatible with his alliance with the British. In a brief civil war, his forces ended up mowing down the Ikhwan with European machine guns. In 1979, a group of armed extremists stormed the Grand Mosque in Mecca because they believed that the Saudi monarchy had deviated from the path of its founders. After a two week siege, hundreds of dead, more injured, and three French commandos briefly converted into Islam in order to enter the holy city, the remaining militants surrendered. They said they were Ikhwan.

More than any other group however, ISIL is truly the sword of Salafism. Among the genocidal, slave-trading Salafis of today, only it occupies territory and is building a state on it, just like the Ikhwan have always tried to do.

ISIL also has an advantage that the Ikhwan did not have—a more modern, fluid identity that allows it to recruit people from across the world, including Turkey. While an Ottoman Turk in Anatolia would not have entertained the thought of joining the Ikhwan, ISIL is recruiting Turks by the droves. That is because ISIL’s anti-imperialist narrative is almost universal among Muslims today, including Turks. Poll after poll shows that Turks harbor hostile feelings towards American policy, mostly due to its intervention in Muslim countries, as well as its support for Israel.


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India’s third-gender ‘hijra’ community balances acceptance with religious identity

Shobha Masi, photographed on March 19, 2015, is a guru of a hijra community in Ahmedabad, India. Religion News Service photo by Yasmine Canga-Valles

AHMEDABAD, India (RNS) Tucked away in the Gomtipur ghetto sits the dusty pink home of Shobha, Shilpa and Joya, members of Ahmedabad’s small hijra community.

Hijras, India’s “third gender,” have performed ancestral rituals and ceremonies across India for centuries without legal recognition. That changed in April 2014 when a Supreme Court ruling and the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill recognized them for the first time.

MORE: By the numbers: India’s LGBT community

Though the new official gender category is widely considered a significant step forward, hijras who have found sanctuary in reclusive communities fear that it will prevent them from freely practicing their multifaith traditions, both in India and abroad.

“Hijras are resistant to all categories,” said Katherine Ewing, a professor of religion at Columbia University in New York and coordinator of the Master of Arts Program in the South Asia Institute.  “There is not a real orthodoxy in this community but rather a local inheritance of practices. The community was at first created because it was seen as a threat to everyday gendered order.”

Wrapped in a colorful sari, Shobha presides over her house, occasionally pausing to spit paan, a tobacco-like substance, into a small silver pot. She was born intersex (an umbrella term for conditions in which an infant’s anatomy doesn’t conform to standard definitions of male or female) and identifies as both male and female, but prefers female pronouns. She calls hijras “children of God,” physical incarnations of the divine.

The Hindu goddess Bahuchara Mata “is like our mother,” explained Shilpa, one of Shobha’s students and fellow hijras. “She gave us this form. We are well-known due to her grace. We are everything just because of her.”

Hijras Shilpa and Joya are chelas or students of Shobha Masi. They have lived in this small ghetto of Ahmedabad since they were young girls. Photo taken on March 19, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Yasmine Canga-Valles

Hijras have long made a living performing rituals at births, marriages and death ceremonies for families of various religious backgrounds. Their services include singing devotional songs, dancing, playing drums and offering blessings.

“The only thing that matters to us is the happiness of all people. And (people) give us money according to their wishes,” said Shilpa.

The importance of embracing differing faiths within the hijra community is evident a few blocks from Shobha’s home. Suraya, Savitri, Sandhya and Faulan live in a house that has been passed from one Hijra guru to another for more than 150 years. Their community serves as a hub for the local neighborhood.

“We possess the minds of both male and female,” said Faulan. “We tend to have more wisdom. We don’t discriminate between religions.”

MORE: How to be a Christian ally to LGBT people

Faulan studied both Islam and Hinduism under her Hindu guru, Sandhya. The two have gone on multifaith religious pilgrimages across India to sites such as the Bahuchara Temple in Gujarat and the Sufi shrine Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan.

In 2009, Shilpa went to Mecca to perform the hajj, or Muslim pilgrimage, a mandatory religious duty for Muslims. The Indian government had not yet recognized hijras as a third gender, so she traveled under a male name.

“The government here has accepted and recognized us as transgender,” said Shilpa. “But we will not be accepted as transgender in Saudi Arabia as it is an Islamic country. So we went there as males. We got our passports, cut our hair, kept light mustaches and wore caps. We did all of these things to visit.”

Savitri, Sandhya and Faulan are brothers and gurus in the same hijra community in Ahmedabad, India. This particular community claims to be the first hijra community in the city. Photo taken on March 19, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Olivia Lace-Evans

Shilpa expressed concerns that her guru will not be able to visit Mecca now that India recognizes a third gender. If hijras like Shilpa or Joya choose to take advantage of their new legal identity, they too will be unable to travel freely for hajj.

When the transgender bill was passed last year, many promises were made. One of the major changes proposed by the government was to include a third gender column in all administrative paperwork within six months of the bill’s passing.

Kiran Tirkey, a transgender representative for the New Delhi-based Naz Foundation, said that many changes promised to the hijra and transgender communities have yet to be seen, including increased employment opportunities.

MORE: Pakistan’s ‘third-gender’ discrimination

“The law has not been applied. You can see in the government sector that although job vacancies are coming, there is no column on applications for a third gender,” said Tirkey.

Until these regulations become fully enforced, the hijra community will continue to look inward for both social and religious sanctuary.

“People don’t accept us. We are what we are,” said Shobha. “We do not want to lose our history. We are, and will remain, hijras.”

(Translation for this article was provided by Maulikkumar Vikrambhai Patel.)


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Marriage task force calls for gender-neutral language in marriage canon

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Proposed change would allow clergy to solemnize same-sex unions

[Episcopal News Service] The A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage is recommending that the 2015 meeting of General Convention authorize Episcopal Church clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages.

The task force proposes the change in its just-released Blue Book report by way of a resolution (numbered A036) that would revise Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here).

The revision removes, among many edits, the language of I.18.2(b) that requires couples to “understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman.” Removing that and other gender-specific language from the canon, the report says, addresses the mandate in the group’s enabling resolution that it “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same-sex couple in states that authorize such.”

Section 3 of Canon 18 would be rewritten to, in part, remove the requirement that the couple sign a declaration stating they “solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.”

The revision would recast the requirement in the canon’s first section that clergy conform to both “the laws of the state” and “the laws of this Church” about marriage. The rewritten portion of that section would require that clergy conform to “the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also to these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage.”

Canon I.18 contains the majority of the rules in the church’s canons about clergy officiating at marriage. Canon I.19 governs the “preservation of marriage, dissolution of marriage, and remarriage” and as such refers to “husband” and “wife” in its third section. The Book of Common Prayer, which Article X of the church’s constitution authorizes, refers to marriage on page 422 as Christian marriage being “a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.” It uses gender-specific language throughout “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage,” “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage” and “An Order for Marriage” rites, as well as in its “Additional Directions” section.

The task force says in its report that its revision of Canon I.18 makes the canon “focused on the actual vows made in The Book of Common Prayer marriage rite, rather than on the purposes of marriage in general,” which it adds are stated “in literally creedal form.”

The clergy’s discretion to decline to solemnize any marriage is preserved and extended to include the choice to decline offering a blessing on a marriage, the task force said.

The 122-page report, the majority of which includes resources the task force developed for the study of marriage and essays on various issues concerning marriage, is available in English here and in Spanish here.

The task force was formed in response to a call (via Resolution A050) from the 77th General Convention in July 2012 for a group of “theologians, liturgists, pastors and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage.”

That same meeting of convention authorized provisional use of a rite to bless same-sex relationships. Use of that rite, Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, is due to be reviewed by General Convention in 2015.

Noting the rapidly changing social and legal landscape of marriage, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage says in its report that “this time of flux bears continuing discernment and attention by our Church.”

Thus the group will ask convention to consider Resolution A037 to continue the task force’s work into the 2016-2018 triennium as a way to “explore further those contemporary trends and norms” the current group has identified.

Those trends and norms, the group’s report says, include “those who choose to remain single; unmarried persons in intimate relationships; couples who cohabitate either in preparation for, or as an alternative to, marriage; couples who desire a blessing from the Church but not marriage; parenting by single and/or unmarried persons; differing forms of family and household such as those including same-sex parenting, adoption, and racial diversity; and differences in marriage patterns between ethnic and racial groups, and between provinces inside and outside the United States.”

While doing its work this triennium, “the Task Force became highly aware of a growing contemporary reality in society and the Church that is redefining what many mean by ‘family’ or ‘household,’” the group says in its report, adding that “this changing reality is felt in our congregations.”

Marriage “as a normative way of life” is being challenged, yet the group says it “did not have the time or resources to fully address this reality.”

“More broadly, our Church has done very little to respond to it,” the task force says.

The task force’s two resolutions, as well as other expected proposed resolutions on marriage, will be handled by a special legislative Committee on Marriage when the General Convention next meets June 25-July 3 in Salt Lake City.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, said in July that they would appoint the committee “to ensure that the work of the Task Force on Marriage and resolutions related to the rapidly shifting contexts of civil marriage in the United States and in several other parts of the world can be given appropriate consideration.”

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