Navigating The Fallout Of Alleged Abuse And Betrayal In A Sacred Muslim Space

All religions appear to have comparable problems:

Nearly two years ago NPR profiled Usama Canon, a celebrated Muslim preacher facing his own mortality. He’d been public about his diagnosis of Lou Gherig’s disease or ALS, a degenerative neurologic condition that robs people of their ability to move, to speak. Eventually it takes your life. The reaction to the news, an outpouring of grief from thousands of American Muslims that looked to Canon as a spiritual guide and to his non-traditional Muslim space, Ta’leef, as a place that felt welcoming without judgement. It’s in the motto: “come as you are, to Islam as it is.”

At that time Canon reflected on his legacy.

“It’s only as lasting as the women and men that have hopefully benefited and learned,” he said.

Today that legacy is in jeopardy. The organization he founded with spiritual gathering spaces in Northern California and Chicago, publicly severed ties with him last month in a statement. It announced “he has deeply betrayed the sanctity of the position of spiritual teacher.” It went on to describe allegations that included “verbal abuse and abuse of authority” and accusations of a “more serious nature.” Allegations, the statement said Canon “remorsefully admitted to.”

People inside and outside of the organization say those more serious accusations are him allegedly using his position to engage in secret and “pleasure” marriages. Pleasure or temporary marriages are a controversial practice among some Muslims that have no U.S. legal standing, the religious justification for the marriages is fiercely debated and the practice is sometimes used to exploit women.

The reaction to the statement from Ta’leef was swift, public and messy in a long thread on the organization’s Facebook page that has since been taken down. The comments, a window into the way these scandals divide, confuse and bereave communities as they grapple with a beloved figure being accused of abuse.

One Canon supporter wrote, “Burden of proof lies on the accusers.” Another wrote, “You as a Muslim should be ashamed of yourself that you are willing to jump the gun and automatically believe an accusation without ample proof.”

Other comments were filled with questions about what the nature of the abuse was, still others asking why Ta’leef went public when Canon was so sick. And then there were the expressions of grief, pain and disbelief. Through the hundreds of online posts someone wrote, “I hope the survivors aren’t reading these comments. I am very ashamed and saddened of the ummah [Muslim community] thinking more of the abuser than the abused.”

It’s the latest public scandal involving a respected figure to roil Muslims in the west over the past few years. In 2017, it was a sexting scandal from a rigidly conservative American Muslim celebrity preacher, Nouman Ali Khan, accused of using his position to lure women into sexual relationships under the guise of a secret marriage. In another, a prominent Swiss scholar of Islam, Tariq Ramadan, is facing charges in France for the alleged rape of at least two women. Accusations he denies. It’s reignited a conversation around how to deal with abuse by Muslim community and faith leaders.

While Muslim victim advocates commended Ta’leef for the rare public stance it took, they also worried the statement was too vague and left people to fill in the blanks themselves.

“You have this lack of clarity that doesn’t do justice to what these victims experienced,” said Alia Salem, the founder and executive director of a Muslim organization called FACE. It provides resources for victims and investigates abuse allegations against spiritual and community leaders. “But you also have a really difficult position that the administration found them self in because of his health condition.”

In the weeks since the statement, Canon’s organization has tried to figure out how to navigate the fallout of alleged abuse and betrayal in a sacred space. In a post on their Facebook page asking for donations on Giving Tuesday, they expressed “uncertainty around the future of Ta’leef.” Meanwhile the man in question is in the late stages of ALS, unable to speak or text, according to his wife. She answered a message requesting comment on Canon’s behalf. No further comment was given. Canon is communicating though, with a computer that reads eye movements. Some say they’ve received texted apologies from him.

In the wake of the accusations, at least three people have gone to Salem’s organization, FACE, which stands for Facing Abuse in Community Environments, for help. She also observed a healing circle at Ta’leef’s northern California campus.

“They fell short once again, because in that healing circle, which is for the community that’s left to deal with what has just happened. They went to extreme lengths to talk about how much they loved this person, even though he was a violator, and how their actions were only to protect the institution,” she said.

It took over an hour before a mention of any possible victims came up and only in response to Salem’s question.

“[They were] extolling all of these praises for this individual who had violations that were so severe they had to completely cut ties with him. All I’m thinking about in that moment is, ‘oh my God I know that there are victims in this room,'” she said. “What are they going through in this moment? This is the furthest thing from healing.”

And that focus Salem said, is how abusers get away with financial, sexual, physical or spiritual abuse. There’s also the issue of people conflating the Islamic practice of not gossiping about people’s sins with the real need to root out and warn of abuse.

These manifests themselves almost identically in other religious groups. But minorities, like American Muslims, have the added burden of being scrutinized and demonized.

“We are already such a targeted and marginalized community. We don’t want to air dirty laundry in the public sector because we don’t want to bring more negative attention. We’re already so inundated. We’re already so targeted. Why are you going to make our lives harder?” she said. “That’s the other reason they keep it quiet.”

In order to create a cultural shift, she said, Muslim organizations need to focus on victims rather than accused leaders like Canon and other popular figures.

And in the era of #TimesUp and #MeToo there are some breaking the silence. More Muslims, specifically women, are speaking up. An American Muslim rapper, Mona Haydar, released a song a couple years ago, Dogs, calling out lascivious religious leaders.

Muslim groups such as Salem’s aimed at preventing abuse by powerful leaders, are popping up across the United States. There’s the northern California-based In Shaykh’s Clothing, it focuses on spiritual abuse. There’s also the Chicago-based Heart Women and Girls focused on sexual health and sexual violence. Salem started her Dallas-based organization, FACE, because she didn’t know where to turn when a mother came to her for help. The woman’s daughter was allegedly manipulated into sex with a married Texas-based cleric, three times her age. She says the cleric met the woman at 13. He was the imam at her mosque. He then allegedly groomed her for years before luring her to a Motel 6 to have sex with her at 18.

“I was trying to figure out how to help and realized we had no mechanism in the community to authoritatively deal with this,” she said.

So she created the mechanism. In some cases, her organization releases public misconduct reports to warn Muslim communities, like in the Texas case. The victim sued the accused cleric Zia Ul-Haq Sheikh and won. The judge ordered him to pay his accuser more than two and half million dollars for mental anguish and other damages. Haq denied any wrong doing in an email to NPR and has begun the appeals process. This month, FACE released it’s second report. This time documenting the alleged abuse of a Phoenix-based imam.

Salem’s work, she says, is driven by her Muslim faith.

“I take the work that I do as a commandment. When we talk about leadership and accountability and trying to purify our communities from abuse and corruption. That is a is a huge responsibility,” she said. “And if we don’t do it, somebody else will. So we might as well clean house ourselves because we’re obligated to, from a religious perspective anyways.”

She references a passage from the Q’uran that translates “O you who believe. Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin.”

Some of the abuse is a result of absolute negligence by institutions, said Ingrid Mattson, the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. She’s a leading Muslim figure and her work focuses on how to solve societal problems.

But, she said, it also often stems from a lack of oversight and understanding about how to handle allegations of abuse when they’re brought forward. Most mosques and other American Muslim institutions are small, operate independently and don’t have procedures in place to institute background checks or investigate complaints.

“Up to now, most communities are doing that in-house, if at all, if they even understand the need to have something, a grievance committee,” she said. “So that’s really where research into best practices, protocols and investigative functions need to be gathered together collectively by the community, in order to really meet the requirements of due diligence and accountability. And allowing these spaces to be known to operate as they are supposed to operate, which is a space for learning and community.”

Right now she’s heading a research project to put together best practices aimed at addressing predatory behavior, abuse of religious authority and neglect in Muslim organizations.

Her work is based on her area of scholarship, Islamic ethics.

“This is very much an ethical problem and it’s a pressing one,” Mattson said. “Spiritual abuse is something that is harmful at the deepest level of the person. It can end up creating a barrier to the very things that person might find healing: prayer and community, their own sense of dignity in the relationship with God.”

Source: Navigating The Fallout Of Alleged Abuse And Betrayal In A Sacred Muslim Space

Canadian immigrants more overeducated for jobs than U.S. counterparts: StatsCan

Good analysis of the data by StatsCan of both the comparatively large gap among recent immigrants and a minimal gap with respect to immigrants who have resided in Canada or USA for 10 years or more:

Recent immigrants in Canada with a university degree were more likely to be over-educated for their jobs compared to immigrants in the United States, a new study from Statistics Canada has found.

The Tuesday release from the federal agency found 35 per cent of working-age, university-educated immigrants who arrived in Canada within the last 10 years were over-educated for their jobs.

In comparison, only 21 per cent of their counterparts south of the border were deemed to be over-educated for their jobs.

Overeducation in the study refers to situations where workers with at least a bachelor’s degree hold a job that requires only a high school diploma or less.

Statistics Canada said the gap was little changed when difference in socio-demographic characteristics among recent immigrants in the two countries were factored in.

The findings raise questions about whether Canada’s immigration system can be better linked to its economic needs and is efficiently employing its highly-educated workforce.

While Canada’s economy in recent years has grown at a steady rate, much due to lockstep expansion of its labour force, the growth of productivity remains sluggish.

Labour productivity, which measures real GDP per hours worked, only increased 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 for Canadian businesses. The U.S., meanwhile, saw productivity grow by three times as much in the same period. Statistics Canada will release its third quarter figures on Wednesday.

“Overeducation leads to inefficient use of human capital and lost productivity,” Tuesday’s report reads.

While helping to sustain long-term economic growth, productivity gains can lead to wage increases that raise the standard of living.

Tuesday’s report noted that compared to the U.S., “Canada’s industrial structure is less knowledge-intensive and has a weaker demand for university-educated workers.”

As well, the study said up until the early 2010s, university-educated immigrants in Canada were mostly admitted through a points system that selected those based on their human capital characteristics, such as education, language, age and work experience.

Such factors have led to a large supply of university-educated immigrants “relative to labour market demand for skilled workers in Canada than in the United States.”

“The differences in supply–demand balance and how new immigrants are selected could affect immigrants’ relative performance in the labour market in the two countries,” the report read.

University-educated immigrants in the U.S. were generally selected and sponsored by employers.

Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, said better employing immigrants to their qualifications could improve Canada’s economic performance.

“What we’re talking about is bringing in qualified workers that aren’t being fully employed. So we certainly could improve our productivity if we fully utilise their skill sets and their credentials,” he said.

But Antunes said economic outcomes for highly-educated immigrants have improved in recent years, in part due to a tightening of the labour market. He said Canada has also done a better job in creating arrival streams that ensure there are opportunities for highly-skilled immigrants.

The report had observed that new immigrants admitted through the Canadian Experience Class had the lowest overeducation rate of 18 per cent among economic streams.

The entry stream introduced in 2008 allows immigrant to arrive as temporary foreign workers who can then apply for permanent residence after working for one year.

“I do think we’re doing some things right,” Antunes said. “I wouldn’t want to be too critical of the system.”

While new immigrants in Canada were more likely to be over-educated for their jobs compared to those in the U.S., the disparity for immigrants who arrived more than a decade ago was much smaller.

Twenty-one per cent of long-term immigrants in Canada were over-educated, compared to 18 per cent for similar immigrants in the U.S.

The report said this finding suggests immigrants to Canada are able to find jobs better aligned with their qualifications in the long run.

Among domestic-born workers, the overeducation rate for also slightly lower in Canada than in the U.S.

Antunes added that more could be done for highly-skilled immigants to support arriving spouses and by reducing employer bias.

Source: Canadian immigrants more overeducated for jobs than U.S. counterparts: StatsCan

Saudi Arabia to grant citizenship to ‘innovative’ individuals

Will be interesting to see the results in a few years’ time:

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered a royal decree on Thursday granting citizenship to foreigners in fields such as medicine and technology in a bid to diversify the kingdom’s economy.

The changes are part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic and social reform plans to diversify the economy and steer it away from its reliance on oil.

It aims to attract “scientists, intellectuals and innovators from around the world, to enable the kingdom to become a diverse hub… that the Arab world would be proud of,” Saudi Project, a government platform, said on Twitter.

Experts in the fields of forensic and medical science, technology, agriculture, nuclear and renewable energy, oil and gas and artificial intelligence will be considered.

Individuals in the fields of arts, sports and culture are also included in the order to “contribute and support the enhancement of Saudi competencies and knowledge that will benefit the general public.”

The current Saudi citizenship law allows the naturalisation of foreign citizens who have held permanent residency in the kingdom for at least five years.

But the requirement of a Saudi sponsor has restricted foreigners living in the country from gaining permenant residencies.

Last month, the kingdom issued its first batch of “premium” residence visas for investors, doctors, engineers or financiers who wish to live in the kingdom.

The programme offers foreign nationals and their families long-term visas and privileges that were previously not available to non-Saudis.

The kingdom also announced the launch of its new tourist visas in September that will grant individuals multiple entries to the country.

It’s expected the announcement will create one million new jobs for the country by 2030.

Source: Saudi Arabia to grant citizenship to ‘innovative’ individuals

Switzerland: Immigrants who naturalize outearn their peers

Interesting study from Switzerland that likely reflects in part the particularities of the Swiss immigrant population and the citizenship acquisition process. Makes the case for more facilitative approaches to granting citizenship:

The moment when an immigrant becomes a citizen of his adopted country looks remarkably similar in ceremonies around the world: a hand raised, an oath taken, a flag waved, and a celebration with family and friends. But the road leading to that moment differs widely by country. Some are long and steep and others more walkable, depending on the country’s policies.

Behind this divergence is a kind of chicken-and-egg problem. Is citizenship a prize, something to be won only after considerable striving? Then it should be surrounded by hurdles, like requirements that you’ve mastered the language, lived in the country a long time, and achieved a certain level of economic success. Or is citizenship an invitation to build a future in the country, something that helps immigrants succeed? Then it should be easier to get.

Which side has the better of the argument? A new study from the Immigration Policy Lab at ETH Zurich and Stanford University (IPL) sheds light on the importance of citizenship in immigrants’ trajectories. Looking at more than thirty years of data on thousands of immigrants in Switzerland, IPL researchers found that those who had naturalized earned more money each year than those who hadn’t—and the boost in income was largest for people facing the greatest disadvantages in the labor market.

A Puzzle for Researchers

Considering the benefits usually reserved for citizens, it’s easy to imagine how naturalizing early on could equip immigrants to prosper: access to advantageous jobs, eligibility for scholarships to get education and training, and the assurance that they can stay in the country indefinitely and invest in the future.

But it’s hard to prove that citizenship actually delivers on this promise, because those who get citizenship and those who don’t aren’t similar enough to allow for meaningful comparison. People who jump the hurdles to apply for citizenship differ in many ways from those who hold back, and successful applicants differ from unsuccessful ones. If naturalized immigrants do better in the long run, this could be due to any number of factors—factors that, like work ethic or resources, also account for their ability to successfully navigate the citizenship application process.

“To accurately assess the benefits of citizenship it is essential to compare naturalized and non-naturalized immigrants that are similar in all characteristics but for their passport”, said Dalston Ward, a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich.

This is where Switzerland is a boon to social scientists. Between 1970 and 2003, some Swiss towns put citizenship applications to a . To become a Swiss citizen, an immigrant would have to receive more “yes” than “no” votes. For applicants who won or lost by only a handful of votes, the decision may as well have been pure chance, enabling an apples-to apples comparison. Combine that with decades of records from the Swiss pension system showing annual earnings, and you have a trustworthy way to determine whether or not citizenship actually improves immigrants’ fortunes.

Long-Term Benefits

After identifying those who narrowly won or lost their bid for citizenship, the researchers looked back at the five years leading up to the vote that would divide them. There, they had similar incomes. But after the vote, the new citizens went on to earn more money than those who remained in permanent residency status, and the earnings gap increased as time went on. At first, they earned an average of about 3,000 Swiss francs more (roughly the same in U.S. dollars), and that increased to almost 8,000 a decade later. In any given year after the vote awarded them citizenship, these immigrants earned an average of 5,637 more than their peers.

“In sum, these findings provide causal evidence that citizenship is an important catalyst for economic integration, which benefits both immigrants and host communities”, said Jens Hainmueller, a professor of political science at Stanford University.

If citizenship was the wedge between the two groups, how exactly did it lift one above the other? The most likely explanation, the researchers thought, was that it counteracted the discrimination that colors immigrants’ lives in the job market. When immigrants apply for jobs in Switzerland, their citizenship status is almost as visible as hair color or height, and individual employers can use it to filter candidates. Immigrants who haven’t become citizens may be seen as less skilled or less likely to remain in the country. On the other hand, because it is relatively difficult to gain citizenship in Switzerland, it may act as a kind of credential.

A closer look at the data bears this out. Citizenship made the greatest difference for immigrants facing obstacles—those likely to be discriminated against for their religion or country of origin, or those in low-wage occupations. When the researchers focused on immigrants from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, who were often refugees and potentially targets of anti-Muslim sentiment, they found an average yearly earnings gain of 10,721—roughly double that of the new citizens as a whole.

According to Dominik Hangartner, a professor of public policy at ETH Zurich, “the finding that the benefits are disproportionally larger for poorer and more marginalized immigrants speaks to the important role that citizenship policies can play in facilitating more equal access to employment opportunities for immigrants.”

While income is only one element of an immigrant’s life, the persistence of the earnings gap revealed in this study raises an important question about the public purpose of citizenship. We tend to think of citizenship as a private issue, personally meaningful to the but not necessarily something society or state should invest in.

But if citizenship can counter discrimination, boost social mobility, and act as a stepping stone toward deeper integration, then its benefits reach beyond immigrants themselves. That means that we all have a stake in the debate over whether to obstruct or ease access to . At a time when cities, states, and countries around the world are reconsidering their welcome to immigrants, it’s all the more important to have solid evidence about the contributions newcomers can make—and the policies that best encourage them.

Source: Immigrants who naturalize outearn their peers

Indigenous citizenship test: lawyers argue up to a third of Australians at risk of deportation

Weird case and arguments. Unlikely that this would happen in Canada but if anyone knows  of any comparable Canadian cases, would be of interest:

Indigenous Australians’ connection to the land is “important but not equivalent” to allegiance to Australia, the commonwealth has argued in a landmark case fighting for the right to deport two Aboriginal non-citizens.

Lawyers for the two Indigenous men, backed up by the state of Victoria, are arguing the Australian government cannot deport Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders even though they don’t hold Australian citizenship because the constitutional definition of “alien” can’t be set by the government of the day through citizenship law.

The plaintiffs, Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms, were born in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, each with one Aboriginal parent, and face deportation due to laws which allow the cancellation of visas on character grounds. Their fight to stay now hinges on a special case arguing that although they are non-citizens, they are also not aliens.

At a hearing on Thursday, counsel for the two men, Stephen Keim, argued that the high court’s second Mabo decision contained an “understanding of the history of European settlement and imposition of the sovereignty of the crown” which should guide the common law in the way it deals with “a multiplicity of legal issues” beyond native title, such as citizenship.

Chief justice Susan Kiefel suggested that Victoria’s submissions had taken the court into the territory of “Mabo No 3” – a “much wider proposition” that could have implications in many other areas of law.

Keim submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs that Aboriginal people are “permanent Australian nationals and not aliens in Australia” unless they abandon that status.

Source: Indigenous citizenship test: lawyers argue up to a third of Australians at risk of deportation

There is no conflict between the struggle against antisemitism and the struggle against Israeli occupation

Valid critique:

Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that, if you are attacked for the same text by both sides in a political conflict, this is one of the few reliable signs that you are on the right path. In the last decades, I have been attacked by a number of very different political actors (often on account of the same text!) for antisemitism, up to advocating a new Holocaust, and for perfidious Zionist propaganda (see the last issue of the antiemetic Occidental Observer). So I think I’ve earned the right to comment on the recent accusations against the Labour Party regarding its alleged tolerance of antisemitism.

I, of course, indisputably reject antisemitism in all its forms, including the idea that one can sometimes ”understand” it, as in: “considering what Israel is doing on the West Bank, one shouldn’t be surprised if this gives birth to antisemitic reactions”. More precisely, I reject the two symmetrical versions of this last argument: “we should understand occasional Palestinian antisemitism since they suffer a lot” as well as “we should understand aggressive Zionism in view of the Holocaust.” One should, of course, also reject the compromise version: “both sides have a point, so let’s find a middle way…”.

Along the same lines, we should supplement the standard Israeli point that the (permissible) critique of Israeli policy can serve as a cover for the (unacceptable) antisemitism with its no less pertinent reversal: the accusation of antisemitism is often invoked to discredit a totally justified critique of Israeli politics. Where, exactly, does legitimate critique of Israeli policy become antisemitism? More and more, mere sympathy for the Palestinian resistance is condemned as antisemitic. Take the two-state solution: while decades ago it was the standard international position, it is more and more proclaimed a threat to Israel’s existence and thus antisemitic.

Things get really ominous when Zionism itself evokes the traditional antisemitic cliché of roots. Alain Finkielkraut wrote in 2015 in a letter to Le Monde: “The Jews, they have today chosen the path of rooting.” It is easy to discern in this claim an echo of Heidegger who said, in a Der Spiegel interview, that all essential and great things can only emerge from our having a homeland, from being rooted in a tradition. The irony is that we are dealing here with a weird attempt to mobilise antisemitic clichés in order to legitimize Zionism: antisemitism reproaches the Jews for being rootless; Zionism tries to correct this failure by belatedly providing Jews with roots. No wonder many conservative antisemites ferociously support the expansion of the State of Israel.

However, the trouble with Jews today is that they are now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people. That’s why I find obscene a recent claim by Ayelet Shaked, the former Israeli justice minister: “The Jewish People have the legal and moral right to live in their ancient homeland.” What about the rights of Palestinians?

For me, the only way out of this conundrum is the ethical one: there is ultimately no conflict between the struggle against antisemitism and the struggle against what the State of Israel is now doing on the West Bank. The two struggles are part of one and the same struggle for emancipation. Let’s mention a concrete case. Some weeks ago, Zarah Sultana, a Labour candidate, apologised for a Facebook post in which she backed the Palestinian right to “violent resistance”: “I do not support violence and I should not have articulated my anger in the manner I did, for which I apologize.” I fully support her apology, we should not play with violence, but I nonetheless feel obliged to add that what Israel is now doing on West Bank is also a form of violence. No doubts that Israel sincerely wants peace on the West Bank; occupiers by definition want peace in their occupied land, since it means no resistance. So if Jews are in any way threatened in the UK, I unconditionally and unequivocally condemn it and support all legal measures to combat it–but am I permitted to add that Palestinians in the West Bank are much more under threat than Jews in the UK?

Without mentioning Corbyn by name, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis recently wrote in an article for the Times that “a new poison–sanctioned from the top–has taken root in the Labour Party.” He conceded: “It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote,” though went on to add: “When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.” I find this presentation of a political choice as a purely moral one ethically disgusting–it reminds me of how, decades ago, the Catholic Church in Italy did not explicitly order citizens to vote for Christian Democracy, but just said that they should vote for a party which is Christian and democratic.

Today, the charge of antisemitism is more and more addressed at anyone who deviates from the acceptable left-liberal establishment towards a more radical left–can one imagine a more repellent and cynical manipulation of the Holocaust? When protests against the Israel Defense Forces’ activities in the West Bank are denounced as an expression of antisemitism, and (implicitly, at least) put in the same line as Holocaust deniers–that is to say, when the shadow of the Holocaust is permanently evoked in order to neutralise any criticism of Israeli military and political operations–it is not enough to insist on the difference between antisemitism and the critique of particular measures of the State of Israel. One should go a step further and claim that it is the State of Israel that, in this case, is desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims, ruthlessly using them as an instrument to legitimise present political measures.

As Mirvis wrote, the soul of our nation is indeed at stake here–but also, the soul of the Jewish nation. Will Jews follow Finkielkraut and “take roots”, using their sacred history as an ideological excuse, or will they remember that ultimately we are all strangers in a strange land? Will Jews allow Israel to turn into another fundamentalist nation-state, or remain faithful to the legacy that made them a key factor in the rise of modern civil society? (Remember that there is no Enlightenment without the Jews.) For me, to fully support Israeli politics in the West Bank is a betrayal not just of some abstract global ethics, but of the most precious part of Jewish ethical tradition itself.

Source: There is no conflict between the struggle against antisemitism and the struggle against Israeli occupation

Diversity, inclusion minister should act as ‘catalyst’ with cross-ministerial power, say advocates

Some good commentary but more speculation until we actually see the ministerial mandate letters:

Renaming the multiculturalism ministry to diversity and inclusion has drawn mixed reactions from affected communities, as advocates await the release of the ministerial mandate letter to signal whether action is likely to come with the new title, or if it’s just “window dressing,” as some fear.

Within Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.) expanded 37-member cabinet, announced on Nov. 20, multiculturalism has been hived off from the heritage minister’s responsibility, with a separate portfolio for diversity, inclusion, and youth created, to be overseen by Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.) as minister.

Shireen Salti, interim executive director at the Canadian Arab Institute, said she’ll be watching to see if Ms. Chagger will be empowered to “act as a catalyst ensuring that diversity and inclusion is evenly applied across governments,” and that it doesn’t work as “a stand-alone ministry.”

The role should involve looking at the various functions of government and ensuring that underrepresented communities see some outreach and affirmative action, and that equal opportunities apply across sectors, something Ms. Salti said needs to be addressed for Arab Canadians, who represent the largest demographic of newcomers right now.

Former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes said she was critical of the position in the beginning, but it presents an opportunity to “shift the conversation,” which in the past has mostly focused on gender-balance, to one that addresses equity for all. It should envelope intersecting identities, including race, class, ability, sexual orientation, and religious minorities, she said, and the gender-based analysis that was applied to government work in the 42nd Parliament should be broadened.

The position should act as an “accountability” check on the Liberals promises, and she said she hopes Ms. Chagger is tasked to work across all ministries to ensure that policy is looked at from an equity perspective. That’s the key, said Ms. Caesar-Chavannes, who is critical of the term “diversity,” calling it a frame that may draw in more people, but doesn’t always lead to systemic change.

Diversity just means numbers, echoed Black Vote Canada’s Velma Morgan, while inclusion means actual participation, she said, and she hopes the minister’s mandate letter is “starting at home,” namely, addressing the dearth of diversity in government offices. It should include outcomes that lead to more people of colour among the political staff surrounding ministers, and those reporting to them in the bureaucracy, said Ms. Morgan.

“We need to have people at the decision-making table so it reflects our community, but also brings the voice of our community to those tables,” she said. “A policy may seem very neutral on the surface but it might have an adverse effect on our community, and if you don’t know the nuances in our community, then you wouldn’t be able to catch them.”

Without specific measures in mandate, it’s ‘window dressing’

To former Conservative staffer Angela Wright, Ms. Chagger’s new title is “very typical of the way” Liberals have done things, and doesn’t necessarily signal a change in direction or adoption of new policies.

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion, they’ve already done all the studies and the reports, and at this point we need to see action and we need to see money from government to signal this is actually a commitment and something they’re going to work toward,” she said.

Anything less than actual money, changes in law, and policy implementation “is just window dressing,” she said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (Burnaby South, B.C.) has dismissed the new ministry as “pretty words,” rather than “real actions,” to address inclusion.

Political scientist Anita Singh was equally critical, noting cabinet positions like this one—and the newly formed ministry echoing the Liberal Party’s tagline of middle-class prosperity—are “a catch-22”.

“On one hand, the prime minister is trying to signal that these are issues that are important to his party, but on the other hand, by isolating these ministries, it fails to show how diversity, inclusion, and youth issues are interrelated to other key portfolios,” she said.

The biggest issues for youth, for example, are job creation, housing supply, and education, and so a ministry separate from that core work “makes little sense,” said Ms. Singh, while immigrant groups and people of colour face issues around immigration, credential recognition, and economic growth and housing.

“It is a weird irony that integration is being isolated this way,” she said. “There seems to be a lack of understanding about how these are all interrelated challenges.”

Though the Heritage office, Ms. Chagger declined an interview with The Hill Times until her mandate letter was issued. The office did not respond to follow-up questions about the renamed ministry, its budget and departmental resources, and whether it marks a change in approach.

These files are coming together because “there are synergies between these different roles,” Ms. Chagger told reporters on Nov. 21, the day after she was sworn in. She’ll also take on the LGBTQ2 Secretariat, created last Parliament, which has been transferred, along with the Youth Secretariat, from the Privy Council Office to the department of Canadian Heritage. The government also previously announced an Anti-Racism Secretariat, under the purview of the heritage minister, and $4.6-million to bring in a “whole-of-government approach” to address racism.

“These are areas that we take very seriously and the fact that it is a responsibility at the cabinet table tells you that we are going to ensure that when we are making decisions, we are making good decisions not only for today, but for future generations,” said Ms. Chagger.

Ruby Latif, a former Dalton McGuinty adviser who has worked at various levels of government and in Liberal circles, said she was pleased the government has taken this “step forward,” calling it a helpful position.

“When you have someone whose specialty [is] looking at inclusion and diversity, it ensures there is a lens being applied to all aspects,” said Ms. Latif, adding she thinks Ms. Chagger is the right person for the job.

Ms. Latif knew Ms. Chagger through Liberal politics, and said the minister’s experience through her work at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, before the second-term MP became a candidate, means Ms. Chagger “actually brings that lens of understanding of diversity.”

File typically considered a junior minister

This will be Ms. Chagger’s third portfolio since being elected in 2015. First, she was named small business minister in Mr. Trudeau’s first cabinet, and less than a year later moved to the high-profile House leader post. Now, she’s paired with the Heritage department in a post that’s traditionally been seen as a junior minister, noted University of Toronto professor Erin Tolley.

Asked by reporters if she felt demoted, Ms. Chagger said with cabinet positions, it’s the prime minister’s prerogative. She said she faced the same questions when she was small business minister, and as House leader, and that it’s “important” to sit at the cabinet table.

Ms. Chagger is one of seven people who are visible minorities who were named to the 37-member, gender-balanced cabinet. She’s the fifth racialized minister to take on multiculturalism—the now-renamed portfolio has been the most common assignment among the 20 or so visible minority people who have occupied cabinet posts since Pierre De Bané was named to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet in 1978, soon after the post was first created.

Where racialized ministers are named is noteworthy, Prof. Tolley said, and while it may make sense to have people of colour to serve in positions that deal with anti-racism and multiculturalism, governments should see those objectives as everybody’s responsibility.

“You can’t meet these equity objectives unless white Canadians are doing some of the work,” she said. “If you want to stack up the comparison between symbols and actual outcomes from this particular minister’s perspective, she went from a prominent role to one of less visibility and less importance.”

Multiculturalism has historically been one of the “hot potato posts” that’s been “all over the map,” with governments dealing with it in different ways, added Prof. Tolley.

It was first housed within the old department of the secretary of state, which later morphed into Canadian Heritage, and it’s also lived with the department of Citizenship and Immigration. Some prime ministers had a separate minister of state for multiculturalism, while others didn’t have a minister whose post specifically included multiculturalism in the title, as was the case in Mr. Trudeau’s first cabinet.

Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Que.) was responsible for multiculturalism in 2015, but it wasn’t brought into the title until now-House Leader Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Que.) replaced her in the post in July 2018.

Semantics are important to politics, said Prof. Tolley, because it’s an explicit choice.

“The portfolios are not named accidentally,” she said, invoking the middle-class prosperity file as an example of a “symbolic and semantic” choice

“I’ll be curious to read the mandate the letter so see how, in practical terms, that symbolic choice materializes,” said Prof. Tolley, adding she also found it curious that the government isolated “youth” as a particular category.

It suggests something about government priorities, she said, whereas the words “diversity and inclusion” are “doing a lot of work” and are capturing a lot of different interests and identities and categories the government might be interested in. Last Parliament, Mr. Trudeau himself held the youth portfolio.

“From my perspective the name change, it doesn’t really go that much further, unless the mandate letter includes something about equity and outcomes,” she said, and it may be a case of simply renaming what was already there, and “in some ways almost diluting it, because now you’re dumping more and more elements into this bucket of diversity.”

Source: Diversity, inclusion minister should act as ‘catalyst’ with cross-ministerial power, say advocates

How Denny’s is engaging multicultural consumers

Once again, the private sector adapts faster than political discourse:

Denny’s, the quick-service restaurant chain, is putting inclusivity at the heart of its strategy as it seeks deepen bonds with multicultural consumers.

John Dillon, SVP/CMO, Denny’s Corp., discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference.

In May 2019, the brand introduced a communications strategy based around the notion of “nothing can bring us together like Denny’s” – an idea that could be expressed in nuanced ways to various audience pockets.

And this proposition, Dillon told the ANA assembly, embodies a powerful message of inclusivity that is at the very core of Denny’s brand identity.

“Fifty-three of our guests in our restaurants today are multicultural,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Denny’s fights a negative “diner” stereotype with multicultural initiatives.)

Not only do Latino, Black and Asian-American consumers all make up a significant portion of Denny’s audience, but over two-thirds of these consumers identify as “heavy users”.

“That’s huge for our business,” Dillon said – not least because of the broader demographic changes in the US that are pointing towards a multicultural majority.

But the brand also has an uneven legacy with multicultural consumers: in 1994, Denny’s settled a class-action suit filed by Black customers who had been refused service, forced to wait longer, or even pay more than white customers.

“We had some discrimination issues,” Dillon recalled, “that – whether real or perceived – were real at the time. It was something that was in the news, and quite frankly, nearly killed the brand.

“We’ve done tremendous things since this happened. But it still comes up. When I talk to consumers across the country about the brand, they ask, ‘Aren’t you the place that a few years ago had that issue?’”

Denny’s is thus aiming to make sure it recognises multicultural consumers in meaningful ways, and that its diners are places “where we’re respected and welcomed to be our most authentic selves.”

Its research, in fact, revealed that diners were seen as a “well-loved classic place for all”, and as venues that connect “people from different backgrounds”, “places of social inclusion”, and for “bringing people together for moments that matter.”

With those “diner” guideposts combining to shape a distinct road of differentiation, Dillon said, “We could lean into even more than other restaurant brands to really center our messaging on this all-embracing inclusion and welcoming message.”

Source: How Denny’s is engaging multicultural consumers

Citizenship in Scandinavia – What are reasonable demands for full membership?

Interesting comparison, showing despite the different approaches, the underlying views on citizenship requirements in all three countries were very similar:

In 2018, together with our colleagues in the other Scandinavian countries, we undertook a representative survey in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Young people from ages 20 to 36 were interviewed – just over 7500 in total. Individuals from the majority populations, descendants of immigrants from Iraq, Pakistan, Poland, Somalia, Turkey, and Vietnam, were included. Immigrants from Iraq and Somalia also participated in the survey in all three countries, while immigrants from Pakistan, Poland and Turkey were included, in addition, in the Norwegian sample. All respondents were asked what they considered reasonable requirements for citizenship, what they thought of the existing rules in their respective countries, and to what extent they felt they were recognized as members of the national community.

Citizenship is the last stop on the way to formal membership in a new homeland. Before this, immigrants with legal status already enjoy many rights. New members of Scandinavian societies have access to some civil and social rights, from day one in the country. Still, citizenship is regarded as important and attractive, especially among those who come from countries with greater legal, economic, and political uncertainty. Citizenship in Scandinavia protects them from deportation, in principle at least. It bestows help overseas, grants the right to vote in parliamentary elections – and not least, gives access to a Scandinavian passport, with all the rights to travel freely and work in the entire EU region.

In the last few years there has been a trend to implement stricter requirements for citizenship in many European countries, such as knowledge tests (language, history, and society), proof of self-sufficiency, and longer waiting times.

Among researchers, these stricter requirements are often interpreted from either a control or an integration perspective: Recent increases in immigration have made authorities keen on finding legal ways to control access to citizenship. On the other hand, concerns over integration have raised the bar for competence in language and knowledge about society, and those who are permanent residents and seek citizenship are required to meet this higher bar in order to become full members.

Regardless of how one interprets the politics, these laws create indisputably higher barriers. There has been an (implicit) assumption among researchers that the stricter requirements are not in immigrants’ interest, but no empirical research has been done. This new survey is the first to investigate these issues empirically.

The three Scandinavian countries are interesting to compare because they cover the entire scale when it comes to citizenship requirements. Denmark is one of the strictest countries in Europe when it comes to citizenship. Sweden is on the liberal outer edge, while Norway – as is often the case with immigration and integration policies – finds itself somewhere in the middle.

We began our study with the assumption that these marked political differences would be mirrored in the immigrant groups and descendants’ attitudes in the three countries – that immigrants and descendants in Denmark would be more critical of the country’s rules, than corresponding groups would be to Swedish policies in Sweden, for example. We also thought the majority populations would want stricter requirements than the minorities would, especially in Denmark. The results did not meet our expectations though, and in many ways were very surprising.

Overall the survey does not show big differences between the three countries, and when it comes to attitudes toward how the rules are and should be, there are barely differences between the three groups (majority, immigrants, and descendants). The prevailing attitude is that it is legitimate to set requirements for new members of society who become citizens – the majority across groups believe these requirements should include five years of residence, a simple language and society test, an oath, and being part of the work force. At the same time, they think it should be legal to keep one’s original citizenship when naturalizing. In other words, there should be clear requirements to become a full member of a Scandinavian society, but these should be reasonable and possible to meet. The results paint a picture of consensus on what “reasonable” means – a framework that lies somewhere between the extremes represented by Denmark and Sweden.

Other institutions, like the education system, labor market, and health care system are probably more important as a basis for attitudes toward membership in society than citizenship.

How should we interpret these findings? The alignment in attitudes across our survey respondents is a pointer to the fact that life in Scandinavia is not so different across the three countries, despite the respective states’ different policies on immigration. In fact, other institutions, like the education system, labor market, and health care system are probably more important as a basis for attitudes toward membership in society than citizenship.

The survey does not tell us anything about emphasis placed on different institutions’ importance for feelings of membership, acceptance, and belonging. But we do see indications of experiences of both discrimination and of lower levels of trust among minority groups.

The consensus on requirements, nevertheless, suggests that the citizenship institution continues to matter as a framework for togetherness. The survey also indicates that minority members of society are reflected actors, alongside majority society members, when it comes to guarding the last ticket into society – and what should be demanded, in order to ensure the functioning of an increasingly diverse society.

Source: Citizenship in Scandinavia – What are reasonable demands for full membership?

How McKinsey Helped the Trump Administration Carry Out Its Immigration Policies

Yet another illustration of McKinsey’s ethnical and moral blindspots (not as egregious as holding their conference in Xinjiang nor Huawei’s role in surveillance tech Huawei founder defends ‘seamless surveillance’ technology, dismisses criticism it enables human-rights abuses):

Just days after he took office in 2017, President Trump set out to make good on his campaign pledge to halt illegal immigration. In a pair of executive orders, he ordered “all legally available resources” to be shifted to border detention facilities, and called for hiring 10,000 new immigration officers.

The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement already had a partner on its payroll: McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration to help engineer an “organizational transformation” in the ICE division charged with deporting migrants who are in the United States unlawfully.

ICE quickly redirected McKinsey toward helping the agency figure out how to execute the White House’s clampdown on illegal immigration.

But the money-saving recommendations the consultants came up with made some career ICE workers uncomfortable. They proposed cuts in spending on food for migrants, as well as on medical care and supervision of detainees, according to interviews with people who worked on the project for both ICE and McKinsey and 1,500 pages of documents obtained from the agency after ProPublica filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.