I am always drawn to articles pertaining to religious freedoms because they do have a direct correlation with the questions of Immigration/Integration topics I feel passionate about. It is also the fact that I myself was raised as a Muslim and do have some may brand as unorthodox views in this area as you can read from earlier posts I mention at the end of this commentary.
Now going back to the article, the thrust of argument made by the writer Iman Amrani is demonstrated in this article excerpt; “The hijab should be protected as a freedom because for many women it represents an integral part of who they are. If Muslim women are forced to choose between their faith and working in an environment that is hostile towards them, they will simply avoid these workplaces”.
Here is my take on this view;
Dealing with Separate Issues
First I suggest that we break this down to issues in play here;
- A Question of Integration: It is clear that immigration is a question of choice insofar as where we decide to migrate. A very big part of this choice is whether we are able to assimilate to different cultures/traditions and not merely considering economic factors-at least this should be the approach. Attire I would suggest is a big part of this consideration as it ties in very intricately to dominating culture/tradition whether I am an Easterner heading West or Westerner heading East same applies. It is unfortunate that such considerations have not been at the forefront of immigration policies in the past. Also note I have specifically written about my view on the Hijab in one of my previous posts below.
- A Question of Realities: As we know that Immigration/Integrations policies have been a complete failure and as such we are facing these kind of issues. We also need to remember that our migrant population have not created these problems but are actually the real victims when it comes to the backlash of these failures. So looking at the headscarf ban we need to consider the detrimental effects both economically and on integration for the affected families. It is therefore prudent NOT to create a blanket policy but one that is protected by judicial oversight to avoid overreach and abuse. I would also recommend that we begin working with minority communities of different cultures to introduce new/effective integration projects as well as come up with a formal ban of religious attire (or a compromise in this direction) for children so that these are inline with our values/culture.
The Way Forward
It is critical that we reform key provisions of our Immigration & Integration Policies and overall approach. Here are the suggestions;
- Eliminate Faith Schools: One of the key changes we need to make that has a direct/profound impact on integration is the elimination of faith school, because it is a fact-and this based one my own personal experience-the impact of schooling particularly at a young age is key to successful integration. It is this period in our life that has the most effect on our ability to interact/integrate and adapt. As such we need to ensure we utilize this period to engrave our values, cultures and traditions at that an early age (and embed/emphasize this into our educational system)-this is truly the ultimate solution for ills of racism/xenophobia we face at this day and age despite the progress we’ve made on Globalization & Multiculturalism.
- Reforms in Immigration/Integration Policies: As mentioned in previous posts we need to ensure that things like language proficiency and attire are perquisites for residency and/or citizenship. We also need to ensure there are solid short, medium and long term integration plan for our communities and that such plans are regularly reviewed to ensure that are inline with our overall strategy as well as changing social trends. Community leaders also need to be part of the solution and as such need to be selected as models for their community and be part of policy formulation process. It is also advisable in defining policies on these critical issues that we review existing models in different countries so that we adapt relevant ones where appropriate.
Finally just to say that these are really important issues we need to address, and even if we do not have the right or complete answers from day 1-which we won’t-we need to make it (and keep it) a national priority that we resolve/evolve in dealing with them.