Immigrants, ‘source of strength for nation’ says President

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has said that Italian immigrants are a new source of strength for the country. Napolitano made the remarks while receiving a group of immigrants who recently acquired Italian citizenship. “This influx of new energy coming from every part of the world that has established itself here is a factor of freshness and strength for the Italian nation,” he said. Napolitano has also said that he would like to see ‘old prejudices’ against immigrants disappear.

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Schools in Quebec to Celebrate Diverse Religious and Culture Holidays, Including Eid al-Adha

Schools in Québec are now required to note the passage of holidays like Eid al-Adha, Hanukkah, Diwali and the birth of Sikh guru Nanak. These dates are part of a controversial new course on ethics and religious culture making its debut in classrooms this fall. One school, Loyola High School in Montreal, is going to court in protest. More than 600 parents at the private Catholic school have requested exemptions to allow their children to opt out of the course. The school’s principal, Paul Donovan has stated that “if you’re going to allow Catholic schools to exist, then you have to allow them to be Catholic.”

Jean-Pierre Proulx, a University of Montreal education professor who advised the provincial government on the new course, stated, “We’re not aiming to form good Catholics or good Protestant or good Jews. We want to form good cultivated citizens, who are tolerant and able to enter into dialogue with others.”

The Dalai Lama will travel to the province next year to show his enthusiasm for the ethics and religious culture class.

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The Globe and Mail

The Montreal Gazette

Muslims Urged to Boost Political Participation

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on American Muslims to exercise their civic responsibility by taking part in the November presidential elections. CAIR is asking Muslim voters to utilize its ‘Civic Participation Guide’ offering step-by-step advice for working with candidates, elected officials, organizing voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. With large numbers of Muslims in swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and Michigan, CAIR believes that the American Muslim community will be influential in helping to determine the next president of the United States.

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Moroccan Burqa-Wearing Woman Denied French Citizenship

France has denied citizenship to a veiled Moroccan woman on the grounds that her “radical” practice of Islam is incompatible with French values, particularly with mixité (the equality of the sexes). Le Monde daily newspaper claims it was the first time a Muslim applicant has been rejected because of his/her personal religious practice, particularly her black burqa. The woman, Faiza M., 32, is married to a French national, arrived in France in 2000, speaks French and has three French-born children. She began wearing the burqa upon her arrival in France at the request of her husband, says the court document, which also stated she wore it more by custom than by conviction. The document also noted that she had no sense of the meaning of secularism or of her right to vote. According to secondary reports by social services, Faiza M. lives in “total submission” to her husband and male relatives.

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International Herald Tribune

Le Monde

Le Figaro


The National Post

Pakistani girl who jumped from balcony in arranged marriage refusal, ‘wants Italian citizenship’

A 15-year old Pakitani girl jumped from a balcony in the northern Italian town of Alessandria. The act was reportedly connected to her refusal of an arranged marriage with her cousin, a 16-year old Pakistani boy. “My parents had already been in touch with his and told me I would be marrying him. I have nothing against him but I do not love him,” the girl said. The girl’s jump was an apparent act of desperation, to escape her parents’ decision. The girl also said that she no longer wants to be Pakistani, but wants to become an Italian citizen. An investigation is being opened into the girl’s desperate attempt.

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Citizenship oath’ proposal sparks controversy in Britain

A proposal that teenagers of school leaving age in Britain should swear an oath of allegiance to promote a sense of citizenship sparked instant controversy Tuesday, with teachers organizations and Muslim groups rejecting it as an “empty gesture”. The recommendations, contained in a report commissioned by the government, are part of current efforts by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to enhance the “notion of Britishness” at a time when the country is being challenged by terrorism and immigration. Brown is also likely to have in mind continuing aspirations by nationalists in his native Scotland to achieve full independence and thus break the 300-year-union with England, something to which he is passionately opposed. But judging by the initial response, the idea of making young people swear an oath of allegiance – possibly specifically to Queen Elizabeth II – is not what experts believe is required to enhance social cohesion. Muslim groups, teachers and anti-monarchists joined in the chorus of protest that greeted the proposals, drawn up by Peter Henry Goldsmith, the former attorney general, at the request of Brown. “Asking children to swear an allegiance to the Queen will not help them understand the nature of this country; I believe this sort of sham ideas will alienate young people further from society,” said Mohammed Umar, chairman of the Ramadhan Foundation, Britain’s leading Muslim youth organization. He said such ceremonies would remind many older Britons of Pakistani and Indian origin of the days of the empire when school assemblies were devoted to swearing allegiance to the British monarch.

Muslims of Europe Charter

Since early 2000, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) debated the establishment of a charter for the Muslims of Europe, setting out the general principles for better understanding of Islam, and the bases for the integration of Muslims in society, in the context of citizenship.

The FIOE formed a committee to prepare the charter, which was discussed at the organisations leadership level. The charter was then presented to many European Islamic bodies at a seminar attended by their representatives and held in Brussels in January 2002. The project was then disseminated widely, to include the greatest possible number of Muslim organisations in order to add their comments and suggestions.

After amendments were approved, and duly incorporated, the final version of the charter was ready. It was signed by Muslim organisations from 28 European states; these are listed in the accompanying document.

Thereafter, signature of the charter will remain open to all organisations that decide to adopt it.

Introduction to the Charter:

Despite their diversity, Muslims of Europe share common values and principles. In order to portray this to European society they need to clearly express their religious convictions and the nature of their presence in Europe.

This charter aims to define a number of principles in accordance with the common understanding of Islam within the European context and to set thenceforth the foundations of greater positive interaction with society.

The rationale for such a charter includes:

The contribution of Islam to modern Europe as well as the rooted Islamic presence as represented by Muslims in many of the Eastern European states. Likewise, the establishment of Muslim communities in several Western European countries has witnessed a shift from a transitory presence of foreign migrants to a more permanent presence.

The Muslim presence in Europe requires a framework of citizenship based on justice, equality of rights, with respect for difference, and the recognition of Muslims as a European religious community.

In line with the expansion and development of the European Union, there is a need for greater co-operation among Muslims of Europe.

The need to enhance the values of mutual understanding, working for peace and the welfare of society, moderation and inter-cultural dialogue, removed from all inclinations of extremism and exclusion.

The importance of Islam in the world and its spiritual, human and civilisational potential requires a rapprochement with the West, and Europe in particular, in order to ensure justice and peace in the world.

These considerations have led European Muslim organisations to formulate this charter in the hope of enhancing the role of Muslims in benefiting European society and to help it build bridges with the rest of the Muslim world.

Articles of the Charter

Section one: on the understanding of Islam:

1. Our understanding of Islam is based on immutable, basic principles that are derived from the authentic sources of Islam: the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions (Sunnah), within the framework of Muslim scholarly consensus and with consideration for the time factor as well as the specifics of the European reality.

2. The true spirit of Islam is based on moderation as extended from the Universal Objectives (Maqasid) of this religion. This moderation avoids both laxity and excessiveness and reconciles reason and divine guidance, taking into consideration the material and spiritual needs of man, with a balanced outlook on life which brings together the reality of the next life with constructive work in this world.

3. In its principles, rulings and values, Islam can be structured around the following three areas: the creed as expressed in the six pillars of faith – Belief in God, the Angels, the revealed books, the messengers, the Hereafter and Divine Decree; the Shari‘ah as expressed in acts of Worship and human interaction; and the Ethical code which lays down the foundations for living a good life. These three interconnected areas are complementary and aim to fulfil the Interests (Maslaha) of humanity and avert harm from it.

4. The emphasis on the human dimension, legislative flexibility and respect for diversity and natural differences among human beings are general characteristics of Islam.

5. Islam honours human beings. This honour embraces all the children of Adam, both male and female, without discrimination. By virtue of this honour, human beings are to be protected from anything that is an affront to their dignity, is harmful to their mental faculties, is damaging to their health or which abuses their rights by exploiting their vulnerabilities.

6. Islam gives particular emphasis to the social dimension and calls for compassion, mutual support, co-operation and brotherhood. These values apply particularly to the rights of parents, relatives and neighbours but also to the poor, the needy, the sick, the elderly and others, regardless of their race or creed.

7. Islam calls for equality between man and woman within the framework of human dignity and mutual respect and views that a balanced life is one in which the relationship between man and woman is harmonious and complementary. It unequivocally rejects all notions or actions that undermine women or deprive them of their legitimate rights, regardless of certain customs and habits of some Muslims. Islam rather confirms women’s indispensable role in society and strongly opposes the exploitation of women and their treatment as mere objects of desire.

8. Islam considers that a family based on the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman is the natural and necessary environment for the raising of future generations. The family is an indispensable condition for the happiness of the individual and stability of society. Thus, Islam emphasises the significance of taking all measures in order to reinforce the family and protect it from all things that will weaken or marginalise its role.

9. Islam respects human rights and calls for equality among all human beings; it rejects all forms of racial discrimination and calls for liberty. It condemns compulsion in religion and allows the individual freedom of conscience. However, Islam encourages that freedom should be exercised in accordance with moral values, such that it does not infringe upon the rights of others.

10. Islam calls for mutual acquaintance, dialogue and co-operation among people and nations so as to enhance stability and guarantee peace in the world. The term Jihad that occurs in Islamic texts means to exert all efforts towards good, starting from reforming oneself to spreading truth and justice between people. Jihad in its understanding as warfare is regarded as one of the means available to any sovereign state when it needs to defend itself against aggression. The teachings of Islam, in this respect, are in line with international law. Based on such an understanding of Jihad, Islam rejects violence and terrorism, supports just causes and affirms the right of all people to defend themselves by legitimate means.

11. Islam enjoins Muslims to be honest and to respect their pledges; forbidding treason and treachery. It also commands them to pursue excellence in dealings with other people, as well as with the rest of creation.

12. Given the virtues of consultation (Shura) and with consideration to human experience in the political, legislative and constitutional realms, Islam affirms the principles of democracy based on pluralism, freedom to choose one’s political institutions and peaceful alternation of power.

13. Islam urges human beings to use nature in a responsible manner. This requires the preservation of the environment and its protection from all causes of pollution and harm as well as from anything that may destroy the delicate balance of nature. Likewise, it requires the protection of natural resources and forbids cruelty to animals, over consumption and wastage of wealth.

Section two: the Muslim Presence in Society:

The principles of interaction among Muslims:

14. Despite their ethnic and cultural diversity and their affiliations to various schools of Islamic law and thought, Muslims of Europe constitute one religious entity within the framework of Islamic principles, united by fraternity. They are also tied with each other, in each European country, by their belonging to the same national entity. Any discrimination arising between them based on ethnic origin is against the value of Islam which emphasises unity.

15. Considering the basic principles of their religion and their common interests, Muslims of Europe are urged to come together, co-operate and co-ordinate the efforts of their different institutions and organisations. This should not fail to recognise the natural diversity that exists among them, within the framework of Islam as generally agreed by scholarly consensus.

16. In addition to their belonging to the country in which they reside and their commitment to the demands of citizenship, Muslims of Europe retain their links with fellow Muslims by virtue of the normal relationship which exists between members of the same community.

On Citizenship:

17. Muslims of Europe respect the laws of the land and the authorities that uphold them. This should not prevent them from individually or collectively defending their rights and expressing their opinions based on their specific concerns as a religious community or on any general matter that concerns them as citizens. Whenever there is a conflict with regard to certain laws and matters that are specific to religion, the relevant authorities should be approached in order to arrive at suitable and viable solutions.

18. Muslims of Europe adhere to the principle of neutrality of the state regarding religious affairs. This means dealing fairly with all religions and allows those who hold religious values to express their beliefs and practise the rites of their religion either as individuals or groups, in conformity with European and international human rights charters and treaties. Muslims have, therefore, the right, as religious communities, to establish mosques, religious, educational and welfare institutions, to practise their religion in day-to-day affairs such as diet, clothing and other needs.

19. As European citizens, Muslims of Europe consider it their duty to work for the common good of society. Their endeavour for the common good is as important as defending their rights. Finally, an authentic understanding of Islam requires of Muslims to be active and productive citizens who are useful to society.

20. Muslims of Europe are urged to integrate positively in their respective societies, on the basis of a harmonious balance between preservation of Muslim identity and the duties of citizenship. Any form of integration that fails to recognise the right of Muslims to preserve their Islamic personality and the right to perform their religious obligations does not serve the interests of Muslims nor the European societies to which they belong.

21. Muslims of Europe are encouraged to participate in the political process as active citizens. Real citizenship includes political engagement, from casting one’s vote to taking part in political institutions. This will be facilitated if these institutions open up to all members and sections of society, an opening up which takes into account competence and ideas.

22. Muslims of Europe emphasise their respect for pluralism and the religious and philosophical diversity of the multicultural societies they live in. They believe that Islam affirms the diversity and differences that exists between people and is not discomforted by this multicultural reality. Rather, Islam calls for members of society to appreciate and enrich one another through their differences.

Islam’s Contribution to Europe:

23. Through its universal and humane principles, Islam adheres to the rapprochement of all people who respect the rights of others and their particularities, who abide by the rules of fairness among people in matters of dealings and co-operation. Starting from these principles, Muslims of Europe consider it their duty to participate in strengthening relations between Europe and the Muslim World. This requires the removal of all the prejudices and negative images which stand between Islam and the West in order to build bonds of rapprochement between people and to establish bridges of fruitful exchanges among different civilizations.

24. Given its culturally rich heritage and emphasis on humanity, Islam, through its presence in Europe, can participate in enhancing important values in contemporary society such as justice, freedom, fraternity, equality and solidarity. Islam gives primacy to moral considerations as well as to scientific, technical and economic progress. This participation can be beneficial and enriching for the whole of society.

25. The Muslim presence in Europe represents a key element in establishing better communication and co-existence between the different religions and beliefs by encouraging discussion between different faiths and ideologies. This will no doubt bolster the path towards global peace.

26. Through their religious and cultural legacy as well as their presence in many European states, Muslims of Europe represent an enhancing element to the efforts of strengthening the European Union. With its diverse religious and cultural make up, Europe can act as an important civilisational signpost with a key role in maintaining international stability between influential world powers.

“O Mankind, indeed we created you from a male and female and have made you different nations and tribes so that you may get to know one another.” (Qur’an; Chapter 49: Verse 13)

Integration, Immigration and Citizenship; Local, National, European & International Responses

Venue: Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Place du Congrès 1, B-1000 Brussels – Conference Room

The Centre of European Policy Studies (CEPS) is organising the IV CHALLENGE Training School on “Integration, Immigration and Citizenship: Local, National, European & International Responses”. The event will take place at CEPS on the 23 & 24 November 2007. The IV CHALLENGE Training School looks at the conceptual, political, sociological and legal implications of the changing intersection between citizenship, immigration and asylum, and their relationship with integration at the national, European and international arenas.

CEPS invites submission of Proposals for Papers covering any of the specific topics highlighted in the Call no later than the 28 September 2007.

Minister to present ‘charter of values’ to Muslims

Interior minister Giuliano Amato will visit Rome’s mosque to present a ‘Charter of Values for Citizenship and Integration.’ This is the first public presentation of the symbolic document, seeking to bridge the divide between Muslims and Italian’s Catholic communities, and is aimed at seeking harmonious integration of Italy’s growing immigrant communities.

Citizenship and Immigrant Incorporation, Comparative Perspective on North America and Western Europe

In recent years, scholarly attention has shifted away from debates on ethnicity to focus on issues of migration and citizenship. Inspired, in part, by earlier studies on European guestworker migration, these debates are fed by the new “transnational mobility”, by the immigration of Muslims, by the increasing importance of human rights law, and by the critical attention now paid to women migrants. With respect to citizenship, many discussions address the diverse citizenship regimes. The present volume, together with its predecessor (Bodemann and Yurdakul 2006), addresses these often contentious issues. A common denominator which unites the various contributions is the question of migrant agency, in other words, the ways in which Western societies are not only transforming migrants, but are themselves being transformed by new migrations (Palgrave).

Table of Contents

    Introduction—Y. Michal Bodemann

  • The Changing Nature of Migration in the 21st Century: Implications for Integration Strategies—Aristide Zolberg
  • The Economic Adaptation of Past and Present Immigrants: Lessons from a Comparative-Historical Approach—Ewa Morawska
  • Citizenship and Pluralism: Multiculturalism in a World of Global Migration—Irene Bloemraad

  • Islam and Multicultural Societies: A Transatlantic Comparison—Jocelyne Cesari
  • The Changing Contours of Immigrant Religious Life—Peggy Levitt
  • Crafting an Identity in the Diaspora: Iranian Immigrants in the United States—Valentine M. Moghadam

  • Nation-State Building Projects and the Politics of Transnational Migration: Locating Salvadoran Migrants in Canada, the United States and El Salvador—Patricia Landolt
  • Freedom to Discriminate: National State Sovereignty and Temporary Visa Workers in North America—Nandita Sharma
  • Professionals and Saints: How Post-Soviet Immigrants Do Home-Care Work—Cinzia Solari

  • ’We Are Together Strong’?: The Unhappy Marriage between Migrant Associations and Trade Unions in Germany—Gökçe Yurdakul
  • Liberal Values and Illiberal Cultures: The Question of Sharia Tribunals in Ontario—Donald Forbes