Toronto becomes an “underground railroad” for gay Iranian Refugees

November 19, 2010

Arsham Parsi escaped Iran five years ago and has since assisted 50 gay Iranians to safety in Canada (and consulting on 250 other cases) with the COSTI Immigration services in downtown Toronto. The arrival of lesbian and gay refugees to Canada is difficult. Temporary asylum can be even more damaging than the persecution refugees face in their home countries, said Rachel Tribe, a senior lecturer at the University of East London’s School of Psychology. Separation from family, the loss of socio-economic status and the inability to speak the language can lead to crippling depression.

In 2010 Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney increased the quota of government-assisted refugees in Turkey who are invited to Canada from 475 to 640. The two most prominent groups that need resettlement help are “refugees from Iraq who are fleeing persecution, and gays, lesbians and dissidents who have had to flee Iran,” Kenney said.

Islamophobia, the new anti-Semitism

15 October 2010

Having seen the disastrous consequences of virulent anti-Semitism firsthand, Germany must lead the fight against Europe’s rising intolerance towards Muslims, writes The Local’s Marc Young in this op-ed: “Let me be painfully clear here — I am in no way equating the persecution Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis with the anti-Muslim sentiment now simmering in modern, democratic Germany. However, just as it was once acceptable to badmouth Jews and scapegoat them for society’s ills — in Germany as well as Western democracies like America and Britain — millions of law-abiding, well-integrated Muslims are now being targeted unfairly.”

Imam in Tarragona accused of harassing a woman for religious reasons

Mohamed B, the imam of the city of Cunit, Tarragona, is accused of harassing Fatima G. and trying to convince her to leave her job as an intercultural mediator. Fatima G was born in Morocco and currently works as an intercultural mediator for the local government of Cunit. She declared that the imam and his family are promoting a movement against her person within the Muslim community because she doesn’t wear a hijab. Fatima also accused the Mayor of the village of allowing the persecution she is allegedly suffering to continue.

The public is greatly divided on the issue and there are many contradictory reports in the media. Some reports link the incident with the Salafi presence in Tarragona while others tie the case to the imam’s personal economical interests instead of religious issues.

The Spanish Minister of Justice argues that Islamophobia must be fought so that it doesn’t end in another Holocaust

The Minister of Justice, Mariano Fern_ndez Bermejo, hopes the current anti-Islamic trend will not end in the type of persecution experienced by the Jewish community. We can not fall under the temptation of blaming a religious community for the crimes committed in their name. Bermejo’s statements were made during the Intolerance and Discrimination Conference organized by OSCE.