Attorneys general from 16 states, DC fight travel ban appeal

The top attorneys from 16 states and the District of Columbia say President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban would hurt their higher education and medical institutions and have a chilling effect on tourism.

The attorneys general urged the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a brief Wednesday to uphold a ruling that blocked the travel ban targeting six predominantly Muslim countries. The attorneys general say the executive order seeks “to fulfill the president’s promise to ban Muslims from entering the country.”

 

Surveys allow new insights into Europeans’ rejection of Muslim immigration

Official condemnation of the ban

In the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, the liberal media has often looked for European moral leadership in an age of Trumpism.

Many of the continent’s politicians struck a similar tone, arguing for the need to uphold European values in the face of xenophobia and racism. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, as well as the leaders of the largest factions in the European Parliament, emphasised the EU’s willingness to stand up for “European legal culture and fundamental values”.(( http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20170131IPR60380/meps-firmly-condemn-us-travel-ban-in-debate-with-federica-mogherini ))

Similarly, the Bloc’s national leaders seemed to develop a common position against the Trump administration and its ‘Muslim ban’. At the gathering of the Union’s 28 heads of government in Malta earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was rebuffed for what the continent’s leaders deemed her too concessionary stance vis-à-vis the incoming US administration.(( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-malta-summit-european-leaders-rebuff-theresa-may-bridge-donald-trump-us-angela-merkel-francois-a7561106.html ))

Sobering survey results

Against this backdrop, the results of a survey commissioned by Chatham House are sobering. Carried out between December 12, 2016, and January 11, 2017, the survey interviewed 10,195 participants from 10 EU countries, asking them about their preferences regarding Muslim immigration.

Across the continent, an absolute majority of 54.6 per cent agreed to the statement that “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped”. The strongest rejection of Muslim migration came from Poland (71 per cent), as well as Austria, Hungary, Belgium, and France (all above 60 per cent).

Only in Spain and the United Kingdom does the share of those supporting drastic immigration restrictions fall below the 50 per cent threshold. And in no country does the proportion of those actively disagreeing with the statement that “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped” rise above 32 per cent.

(Moderate) cleavages according to gender, age, and rural/urban divide

The survey results highlight that men are slightly more likely than women to favour shutting the door to Muslim immigrants (57 to 52 per cent). Among the 18 to 29 year-olds, the share of those supportive of a restrictive policy is lowest (at 44 per cent), while it is highest among senior citizens above the age of 60 (63 per cent).

Higher education levels correlate with decreased anxiety about Muslims: 59 per cent of respondents with only secondary education or less supported preventing further Muslim immigration, compared to 48 per cent of respondents holding a university degree. Finally, the rural population is slightly more critical of Muslim immigration than its urban counterpart.

While these factors are of interest, they nevertheless do little to change the overall picture. Across all groups and cleavages, there are solid majorities favouring a restrictive attitude to the immigration of Muslims, with only few categories falling below the 50 per cent threshold.

Comparison with the US

At first sight, these figures strongly mirror the opinions of the American public. In a Reuters/Ipsos survey conducted on 30 and 31 of January – i.e. shortly after the executive order was signed – 48 per cent of Americans asserted that they ‘agreed’ with the Executive order blocking refugees and banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.(( https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/02/polls-widespread-backing-trump-travel-ban ))

It is worth noting, however, that the Chatham House poll was conducted prior to President Trump’s inauguration and thus did not explicitly reference a ‘Muslim ban’. Rather, it spoke of curbing Muslim immigration in more general terms.

European support for the Muslim ban?

These differences in timing and in the question asked might have important repercussions for the interpretation of the survey data. Most notably, a position generally supportive of curbs on Muslim immigration does not necessarily translate into support for the US administration’s Muslim ban.

In Germany, for instance, 53 per cent of respondents expressed desire for a stop to the arrival of Muslims when questioned for the Chatham House survey. In an Ipsos poll conducted in early February, 2017, however, only 26.2 per cent of German respondents supported strict rules governing Muslim immigration on the model of President Trump’s executive order.(( http://www.wiwo.de/politik/deutschland/umfrage-deutsche-wuenschen-sich-mehr-trump-politik-in-berlin/19239790.html ))

This striking discrepancy might point to the fact that it is easier for some respondents to advocate for a blanket restriction on Muslim immigration as long as this remains a somewhat abstract policy. The concretisation of such restrictions in the form of the presidential executive order might drive home the starkness and injustice involved in such a ban. The recent events in the United States also provided powerful images of demonstrators and of families torn apart at American airports that might have swayed German public opinion.

Outsourcing the dirty work

Does this mean that the claim to moral superiority voiced by European leaders criticising the new American administration is justified, after all? Are Europeans and their governments true to their self-styled image of the upholders of ‘Western values’? – Arguably not.

Instead of stopping immigration at European airports – and thereby creating a media stir comparable to the aftermath of the US President’s executive order – the EU has relied upon agreements that outsource the ‘dirty work’ to third states removed from European shores and out of the sight of European citizens.

This is the substance of the EU-Turkey deal that closed the Balkans route; an approach that the EU now seeks to replicate with a second agreement involving Libya. Although the officially recognised government controls only a small sliver of the Republic of Libya, it has been identified as a suitable partner by the Europeans.

Nor have European leaders been deterred by the conditions reigning in the migrant camps in Libya, which a leaked report by German diplomats described as comparable to “concentration camps” in which daily executions are used “to make room for new arrivals”.(( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-malta-summit-leaders-warn-strand-thousands-refugees-libya-deal-concentration-camps-crisis-a7560956.html )) The European anti-immigration policies might be less eye-catching than Donald Trump’s showmanship; yet this does not make them any less deadly.

A ban of the hijab in higher education?

05.08.2013

The High Council for Integration (HCI) called for a controversial ban of the Islamic headscarf in higher education in a report leaked to the public. The publication of the report caused confusion in social networks. Questioned by the AFP, the secretary general of HCI, Benoît Normand, said that the report had been submitted in April to the President of the new National Observatory of Secularism, Jean-Louis Bianco and  should not be released before the end of the year.

For his part, Jean-Louis Bianco expressed regret over the “misunderstanding”. “The report commits only the Chair of Secularism of the HCI  who is no longer in office.” The issue of the headscarves in higher education is, according to Bianco, not part of the task plan of the National Observatory of Secularism. The 2004 national law on banning the wearing of  religious symbols in secondary schools does not apply to higher education. Only the niqab remains to be banned in public spaces including universities in France, not the hijab.

Punished for Refusing to Disrespect Jesus: Muslims show solidarity

A student at Florida Atlantic University was suspended from class this month for declining to write the name of Jesus on a piece of paper and step on it.

 

The Florida Atlantic University junior’s act of reverence resulted in suspension from his college class and a barrage of attention he neither sought nor anticipated.

“The story illustrates the degree to which traditional Christian beliefs are held in contempt in the secular academy [of higher education],” said Patrick McNamara, director of communications for the New York-based Catholic League.

Rotella was in a March 4 lecture in his intercultural communication class when instructor Deandre Poole told students to each write “Jesus” on paper and then step on it. Rotella set his paper on a surface and told Poole he was offended by the request.

“Anytime you stomp on something, it shows that you believe that something has no value,” Rotella explained to Boca Raton’s CBS affiliate. “So, if you were to stomp on the word ‘Jesus,’ it says that the word has no value.”

The New York-based Center on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was among an array of religion-affiliated organizations that defended Rotella, a devout Mormon.

“We love and revere Jesus,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR. “No Muslim would step on Jesus. If the professor demands it, the proper response for a Muslim is: ‘No, and I’m about to call my lawyer.’”

CAIR’s communication manager, Amina Rubin, said Rotella’s ordeal was a “shocking example of harassment and discrimination.”

“A lot of people tell Muslims that we should be more like Christians and just take it when someone does something irreverent to that which we hold sacred,” Rubin said. “Yet part of being reverent involves standing up, as this student did, when someone tries to denigrate that which is sacred.”

“If we replace ‘Jesus’ with ‘Gandhi’ or ‘Muhammad,’ the liberals in academe should see this sort of thing as harassment and discrimination,” said Rotella’s lawyer, Hiram Sasser–of the Texas-based Liberty Institute, which defends religious liberty.

Muslims Students angry over the closure of the prayer room at City University

22 February 2013

City University has recently announced its decision to shut down the Muslim prayer room at the campus. The decision followed a statement from the university saying it needed to be sure of the “appropriateness” of what was being discussed in sermons as authorized university events. It said it also needed to be assured that all “students eligible to deliver” prayers and sermons “are considered equally and given the opportunity to do so”.

 

“The university could not continue to condone an activity taking place on its premises where it cannot exercise reasonable supervision,” the statement added.

Suspicions surrounding the content of the sermons followed a report released three years ago by Quilliam Foundation. The report claimed that hard line views and a confrontational atmosphere were being encouraged.

 

However, Muslim students argued the report was baseless and there was no evidence that hard line views were being spread. In order to campaign against the decision, Muslim students formed a group called Muslim Voices on Campus, calling on the university to reverse its decision.

 

“All of our sermons are open, we welcome all students and all staff… But when you start submitting your sermons to be monitored and scrutinized then there’s a chance for it to be dictated what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.”

 

There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). There are nearly 90,000 Muslim students studying in higher education institutions in European countries.

George Galloway’s election victory in Bradford continues to draw attention to the participation of Muslims in the British political system

14 May 2012

 

Bradford accommodates the third highest percentage of South Asians in the UK. So-called ‘Muslim votes’ make up 45% of the constituency’s population, and thus these votes are crucial for any political party that wants to score a victory in the elections.

 

Political experts were taken by surprise when George Galloway scored an undisputed victory in the elections for the vacant parliamentary seat of Bradford West in March, 2012. Galloway has always had close relations with the Muslim community but performed poorly in his own constituency and lost his seat in Bromley in 2010.

 

His recent victory has been considered an indication of Muslims’ dissatisfaction in the current performance of the mainstream political parties. This of course has some ground, since unemployment rates in parts of Bradford are almost four times higher than the national average and the number of pupils who progress to higher education are amongst the lowest in the country.

Growing Number of Muslim Chaplains in the UK

Research by the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK at Cardiff University has found that chaplaincy, usually associated with the Christian faith, is a rapidly expanding sphere of work for Muslim professionals.  Muslim chaplains play an increasing role in linking Muslim communities with public organizations; they can now be found in prisons, hospitals, airports, courts, higher education, and the military. The research project led my Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray aimed at exploring the background, training, role, and impact of Muslim chaplains in Britain. The project found that Muslim chaplains are highly motivated in their work and, especially those working in a health care context, had a “strong Islamic” justification for their work. Furthermore, the research found that ‘female chaplains played a vital role in client-family relationships and negotiations, and that Muslims chaplains have mostly integrated well within multi-faith chaplaincy teams’ (BBC News).

Differences in Educational Performances between Faiths

Based on figures by UK National Statistics, the Telegraph reports that Hindu, Sikh and Muslim teenagers are more likely to go to university than their Christian or atheist counterparts. A study conducted for the Department of Education found that 77% of Hindu and 63% of Sikh teenagers go on to higher education, compared to 53% of Muslims, 45% of Christians and 32% of those with no religion. These findings add to the existing body of research, which shows that students from white working-class backgrounds are performing worse at school and are less likely to go to university than their Asian counterparts. Prof Steve Strand of Warwick University, however, argues that religion is not the reason for these differences in performance. Rather, religion was a “proxy” for ethnicity – while white working-class students and parents do not see the relevance for attending university, Asian families consider it as a way to achieve a better socio-economic situation.

Dutch students: Grant reform will negatively impact muslims

In advance of this week’s federal elections, Dutch student unions spoke to the Telegraaf about the potential effects of study grant reform in the country. Practicising Muslim students will be hit hard if the new cabinet replaces the current student grants with a system based on student loans. Student unions explained that Muslim students’, who account for approximately 13% of higher education students, belief stop them from paying interest on student loans.

Right wing party trumpets ‘Cost of immigrants’ in Netherlands

Geert Wilders has publicly announced that the influx of non-Western immigrants to the Netherlands is costing Dutch society 7.2 billion euros per year. Wilders, leader of the far- right Freedom Party, bases his claims on a research report commissioned by the party from the Nyfer economic research unit. Nyfer concluded that immigrants to the Netherlands rely more o public services and are paying fewer taxes than the average native Dutch person. Non-Western immigrants are also less likely to use subsidized child care or become involved in higher education, and have smaller state pensions because they do not meet the 50 year residency requirement. The figure was derived by calculating the net contribution of immigrants to the public sector, and does not include effects on the labour or housing market.

Wilders called the results ‘shocking’and claims that the figures confirm a need for measures restricting immigration from Islamic countries and elsewhere. Labour leader Job Cohen responded to the report by stating he would “never take the costs of a human being, whether immigrant or native, as a starting point for any policies”. The report is released in the runup to national elections scheduled for June 9, 2010.