Les immigrantes victimes de violence conjugale sont mal protégées par l’État, selon les maisons d’hébergement

One of the harder issues to address given the difficulties for many immigrant women to report abuse or leave their spouse, and the resulting risk of deportation:

Souvent brimées par leur conjoint les parrainant et menacées de déportation, les immigrantes victimes de violence conjugale sont mal protégées par l’État québécois, déplore la Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes (FMHF).

Lors de la commission parlementaire qui porte sur la planification de l’immigration au Québec pour la période 2017-2019, la directrice de la fédération, Manon Monastesse, et sa coordonnatrice Marie-Hélène Senay ont décrit la situation d’immigrantes qui ne connaissent ni le français ni l’anglais et qui se réfugient dans une maison d’hébergement pour échapper à un conjoint violent ou encore à leur proxénète. Ces femmes risquent la déportation si elles quittent avant une période de deux ans leur conjoint les parrainant. Les immigrantes qui sont dans une situation jugée irrégulière par Immigration Canada — le visa que leur a procuré leur conjoint étant expiré, par exemple — risquent d’être dénoncées par ce dernier.

En novembre dernier, la FMHF a produit une étude financée par le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) sur l’adaptation de l’intervention et des services fournis aux immigrantes par les maisons d’hébergement. « Certains statuts d’immigration ou, pire, l’absence de titre de séjour confinent les femmes dans des situations de grande vulnérabilité. C’est le cas des femmes parrainéesqui sontdès lors, complètement dépendantes du conjoint. […] Cette situation laisse libre cours au contrôle du conjoint violent, qui détient l’ultime menace de la dénonciation menant à la déportation si la femme ne se conforme pas à ses exigences », peut-on lire dans le rapport de 86 pages.

Manon Monastesse a cité entre autres le cas de cette immigrante déportée qui a dû laisser derrière elle son enfant, qu’elle allaitait encore et que la Cour a confié au conjoint québécois qui l’avait dénoncée. « Les cas qu’on vous présente, ce ne sont pas des cas anecdotiques. C’est le quotidien qu’on voit », a-t-elle dit aux parlementaires.

Pas d’engagement de la ministre Weil

Elle a plaidé pour que l’État mette en place un mécanisme de suivi des immigrantes parrainées et de leur conjoint. « C’est inacceptable, ici au Québec, que des femmes soient enfermées pendant des années sans aucun contact avec la société », a-t-elle dénoncé. Dans certains cas, le parrain — un bon citoyen québécois — prend à sa charge plus d’une immigrante. « On voit de plus en plus d’hommes québécois se chercher des femmes soumises, a-t-elle révélé. Nous, on les voit : la numéro un, la numéro deux, la numéro trois. On s’aperçoit que c’est le même conjoint. »

La directrice du FMHF a aussi proposé que l’État suspende les procédures d’expulsion des immigrantes victimes de violence. « Il n’y a pas de mécanisme pour les protéger pendant qu’elles s’affranchissent d’un contexte de violence », a-t-elle fait observer.

Source: Les immigrantes victimes de violence conjugale sont mal protégées par l’État, selon les maisons d’hébergement | Le Devoir

Fighting Islamophobia: Groups join forces to help Muslim children, Syrian refugees

While I see the need for this educator’s guide, disappointed that there is minimal language in the Guide (Helping Students Deal with Trauma – Eng) on the linkage to other forms of racism and discrimination and the need to promote an overall message of acceptance and inclusion, including among Canadian Muslim youth.

A missed opportunity:

Newly welcomed Syrian refugees and Muslim children are on the receiving end of Islamophobia in Canadian schools across the country, say the human rights groups that want to put and end to it.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), The Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) and the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), launched a new educator’s guide at a press conference on Parliament Hill Thursday morning, which is intended for teachers to help students deal with trauma related to Islamaphobia.

Currently, the guide is available for free online, and the groups hope that eventually a hard copy will make its way into elementary, high school and university classrooms across the country.

NCCM’s executive director, Ihsaan Gardee, said Canadian Muslims along with newly arrived refugee and immigrant youth are suffering in different ways.

“Whether it’s being afraid to speak about their Muslim identity or whether it’s the shame of being a refugee or dealing with post-war trauma many young people are hurting,” said Gardee.

Families have told NCCM that they hope and expect their childrens’ classrooms to be safe and teachers have told NCCM they need tools to provide support to Muslims in their classrooms. Many have said they feel let down.

“We have heard too many stories of Islamophobia in our schools. We’ve heard about school teachers making hurtful comments in the classroom or on social media about refugees and about Muslims and Islamic practices. We’ve heard about children being afraid to raise their voice to explain their beliefs to their peers,” Gardee continued.

Chief commissioner of the CHRC, Marie-Claude Landry, referencing the Liberal government’s generosity in accepting nearly 30,000 Syrian refugees, said that as the message from our country’s leaders continues to be positive and optimistic, “there is a natural tendency among many Canadians to take for granted that we live in a society guided by inclusion, respect and equality.”

“But the reality is that now more than ever, we must be extra careful not to take our Canadian values for granted,” said Landry.

Landry said this isn’t a Muslim issue – it’s a Canadian issue.

When a Muslim woman is verbally assaulted while shopping with her child, we are all diminished by it, she said.

And when an 8 year-old-child is accused of carrying a knife because of a head covering, we are all the lesser for it, she continued.

Landry believes this guide will help teachers create more inclusive spaces for Canadian Muslim students, and said that at the heart of the guide is the powerful idea that “all children deserve a classroom where they feel safe and understood.”

Source: Fighting Islamophobia: Groups join forces to help Muslim children, Syrian refugees

Stephen Harper leaves divisive legacy at home as he eyes global business – The Globe and Mail

Good comments on new Canadian voters:

They can blame him [Harper] for other things, too. His scorched earth election strategy drove suburban immigrant voters out of the Conservative coalition, leaving the party weakened in the all-important ridings of Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver. The niqab debate. Barbaric cultural practices. Worst of all, according to senior Conservatives, the law to strip dual citizens who commit certain crimes of their citizenship. That one killed them at the door in the 905.

Whoever Mr. Harper was trying to win over with these toxic policies during the 2015 election campaign, the price he paid in immigrant votes and the votes of those who welcome immigrants was high. The new leader will have a long row to hoe to win them back.

Source: Stephen Harper leaves divisive legacy at home as he eyes global business – The Globe and Mail

Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You – The New York Times

Not surprising that Facebook is doing this kind of analysis. Does not appear to work for Canadian political leanings when I checked my profile (no “Canadian politics” tab):

You may think you are discreet about your political views. But Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, has come up with its own determination of your political leanings, based on your activity on the site.

And now, it is easy to find out how Facebook has categorized you — as very liberal or very conservative, or somewhere in between.

Try this (it works best on your desktop computer):

Go to facebook.com/ads/preferences on your browser. (You may have to log in to Facebook first.)

That will bring you to a page with your ad preferences. Under the “Interests” header, click the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab.

Then look for a box titled “US Politics.” In parentheses, it will describe how Facebook has categorized you, such as liberal, moderate or conservative.

(If the “US Politics” box does not show up, click the “See more” button under the grid of boxes.)

Facebook makes a deduction about your political views based on the pages that you like — or on your political preference, if you stated one, on your profile page. If you like the page for Hillary Clinton, Facebook might categorize you as a liberal.

Even if you do not like any candidates’ pages, if most of the people who like the same pages that you do — such as Ben and Jerry’s ice cream — identify as liberal, then Facebook might classify you as one, too.

Facebook has long been collecting information on its users, but it recently revamped the ad preferences page, making it easier to view.

The information is valuable. Advertisers, including many political campaigns, pay Facebook to show their ads to specific demographic groups. The labels Facebook assigns to its users help campaigns more precisely target a particular audience.

For instance, Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign has paid for its ads to be shown to those who Facebook has labeled politically moderate.

Campaigns can also use the groupings to show different messages to different supporters. They may want to show an ad to their hard-core supporters, for example, that is unlike an ad targeted at people just tuning in to the election.

It is not clear how aggressively Facebook is gathering political information on users outside the United States. The social network has 1.7 billion active users, including about 204 million in the United States.

Political outlook is just one of the attributes Facebook compiles on its users. Many of the others are directly commercial: whether you like television comedy shows, video games or Nascar.

To learn more about how political campaigns are targeting voters on social media, The New York Times is collecting Facebook ads from our readers with a project called AdTrack. You can take part by visiting nytimes.comand searching for “Send us the political ads.”

Source: Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You – The New York Times

Vacation break

Will be on an internet-free break next week with only some pre-scheduled posts.

All Mixed Up: What Do We Call People Of Multiple Backgrounds? : NPR

Good long read by Leah Donnella on what to call those with mixed ethnic and racial origins (I still like Lawrence Hill’s remark at the end of Blood: Who among us is not mixed up?):

So what makes one term fall out of favor, and another take off? In a country where the share of multiracial children has multiplied tenfold in the past 50 years, it may be a good time to take stock of our shared vocabulary when it comes to describing Americans like me.

A diversity of terms

I start digging into the history of that vocabulary, over time and around the world. It turns out we’ve had a dizzying multitude of monikers, many of which are offensive. Skip ahead if you want to avoid some of the worst — otherwise, here we go: muwalladeen, mulattos, mestizos, mestiҫos, blended, biracial, interracial, multiracial, multiethnic, gray, high yellow, half-breed, mixed-breed, cross-breed, mutt, mongrel, mixed blood, mixed race, mixed heritage, quadroon, octoroon, hapa, pardo, sambo, half-cracker but a nigger, too.

In early Rome, we were di colore, “of color.” In Japan, we are mostly called hāfu (half) but sometimes we get to be daburu (double). We were half-castes in the U.K. until 2001 (2001!), when the census officially deemed us “mixed.”

In South Africa, we are coloured, officially, and unofficial “bushies,” a slang term that comes from the idea that multiracial children are conceived in the bush.

In Brazil, where multiraciality is assumed, the options are colorful: cor de canelacor de rosacor de cremacor de burro quando foge (the color of a donkey as it runs away).

In the United States, when it comes to describing — or even acknowledging — people who identify with more than one race or ethnicity, the official track record is spotty.

In 1790, the first-ever decennial U.S. Census survey asked each head of household to enumerate the free white males, free white females, “other free persons,” and slaves living on his property. The “other” category was murky. Some people who weren’t considered monoracial may have been marked under “other free persons,” but there’s no way of knowing how many, or what their makeup was.

In 1850, things got a little more explicit. The U.S. Census Bureau rolled out two new racial categories: “B” for black and “M” for mulatto, a term for someone with one black and one white parent that became sort of a catch-all for anyone perceived as racially ambiguous, including many Native Americans.

As for white folks, they didn’t have to answer the race question at all; they were considered the default.

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An 1860s pamphlet published, supposedly, by abolitionists encouraging black and white people to get together and procreate.

U.S. Archives

At the start of the American Civil War in 1861, “amalgamation” was the word of choice for describing cross-racial canoodling. Then, in 1863, the word “miscegenation” came along. It was first used in a pamphlet published, supposedly, by abolitionists encouraging black and white people to get together and get procreating.

The pamphlet praised diversity as one of America’s greatest strengths, and it suggested that the country’s triumphs were achieved not only by its “Anglo-Saxon progenitors, but from all the different nationalities.”

If that sounds unbelievably progressive, it was. The pamphlet was a hoax, put out by anti-war Democrats hoping to trick the public into believing that President Lincoln, who was running for re-election, had a secret plan to “solve America’s ‘race problem’ with a campaign of interracial sexual relations that would create a new ‘American race,'” as race studies scholar Philip Kadish puts it.

In some ways, the “miscegenation” hoax didn’t work; Lincoln was re-elected, and slavery officially ended in 1865. But the term lived on as states passed anti-miscegenation laws barring interracial marriage, and “became the foundational justification for the Jim Crow segregation that followed,” writes Kadish. “With its hoax origin forgotten, ‘miscegenation’s’ scientific connotation — and the fact that it has the same prefix as ‘mistake’ or ‘misbegotten’ — planted the notion that races represented different species that should be separated.”

As this perverse origin story makes clear, when it comes to the words we use to describe race, it’s important to know the history. While miscegenation is by no means considered a neutral word today, very few people know just how laden it is. Unpacking the history of these terms can help us better understand how Americans felt about racial mixing in the past — and to identify any lingering skittishness we may have inherited.

As demographics change, language falls behind

Today, I have the option of selecting more than one race on my Census form, if I want. But that choice is still very new: until the 2000 survey, Americans had to pick just one.

In the past, Census surveys introduced — and later dropped — terms like “quadroon” (someone with one black and three white grandparents) and “octoroon” (someone with one black great-grandparent), but that did nothing for someone with, say, a Chinese mother and Latino father.

These surveys offer a window into how government officials thought about race in the U.S. over the years, but the language that normal people use in their daily lives, and the identities they embody, have always been far more complex.

So the next time you find yourself rolling your eyes at people who insist on shouting from the mountaintops that they’re a quarter this, half that, a dash of the other, keep in mind that for decades, they had very limited options.

That started to change in the mid-20th century, in the wake of Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that officially legalized interracial marriage. The Loving decision overturned a trial judge’s opinion, written in 1958, that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

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Mildred Loving and her husband, Richard P. Loving, are shown on Jan. 26, 1965. In 1967, the ruling in the Lovings’ Supreme Court case officially legalized interracial marriage.

A surge of scholarship, personal writing, activism and community organizing around these issues was bubbling up alongside Loving. These writers, activists and scholars had to choose how to describe themselves and their communities. For some, existing words felt unsatisfying, so they invented new ones. For example, a 1979 graduate dissertation by Christine Iijima Hall, then a researcher at University of California, Los Angeles, appears to be the first influential usage of the word “multiracial” for describing people with blended ancestries.

“This dissertation explored the lives of a particular multiracial/multicultural group,” she wrote in the abstract, defining “multiracial” as “being of two or more races.”

By most accounts, little scholarly research had been done about these identities before Hall’s paper, in which she profiled 30 people with black American fathers and Japanese mothers. (Hall’s own parents are black and Japanese.) There was even less scholarship about people whose backgrounds didn’t involve whiteness.

What little did exist, Hall says, tended to cast people like her in a negative light. She points to Everett Stonequist, a sociologist who in 1935 referred to mixed-race people as “marginal men … poised in psychological uncertainty between two or more social worlds,” their souls reflecting “the discords and harmonies, repulsions and attractions of these worlds.”

(That sort of characterization wasn’t exactly shocking — the “tragic mulatto” trope was almost a hundred years old by the time Stonequist wrote about it.)

Hall’s subjects didn’t seem to suffer such internal discord. They didn’t necessarily agree about what to call themselves — they variously identified as “Afro-American,” “Japanese,” “Black-Japanese” and “other” — but overall, Hall found, “all felt happy and lucky” to be who they were.

Hall’s use of “multiracial” as an umbrella term for describing individuals started leaking into popular culture. G. Reginald Daniel, a leading scholar on issues of multicultural identity and a sociology professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, says Hall’s dissertation was one of the first instances in which the word “multiracial” was used to describe an individual, rather than a larger group or a society as a whole. He first heard it used that way in public by a panelist on The Phil Donahue Show in the early ’80s, and thought: “Wow, that’s interesting. I like the sound of it.” Later, Daniel and his colleagues began to incorporate “multiracial” into their own work.

‘Multiracial’ or ‘mixed’?

In light of Hall’s paper, “multiracial” was adopted by several advocacy groups springing up around the country, some of which felt the term neutralized the uncomfortable connotations of a competing term in use at that point: “mixed.”

In English, people have been using the word “mixed” to describe racial identity for at least 200 years, like this 1864 British study claiming that “no mixed races can subsist in humanity,” or this 1812 “Monthly Retrospect of Politics” that tallies the number of slaves — “either Africans or of a mixed race” — in a particular neighborhood.

Steven Riley, the curator of a multiracial research websitecites the year 1661 as the first “mixed-race milestone” in North America, when the Maryland colony forbade “racial admixture” between English women and Negro slaves.

But while “mixed” had an established pedigree by the mid-20th century, it wasn’t uncontroversial. To many, “mixed” invited associations like “mixed up,” “mixed company” and “mixed signals,” all of which reinforced existing stereotypes of “mixed” people as confused, untrustworthy or defective. It also had ties to animal breeding — “mixed” dogs and horses were the foil to pure-breeds and thoroughbreds.

Mixed “evokes identity crisis” to some, says Teresa Willams-León, author of The Sum of Our Parts: Mixed Heritage Asian Americans and a professor of Asian American Studies at California State University. “It becomes the antithesis to pure.”

By the 1980s, some of those made uneasy by “mixed” had a welcome alternative in Hall’s “multiracial.” But others felt “multiracial” was still better for describing groups, not individuals. “Sometimes, when people hear multiracial, they think of a multiracial society,” says Williams-León, one in which “there are blacks, there are Latinos, there are Asian-Americans, and we all live together.” Mixed, in this line of thinking, avoided that confusion.

Biracial is, of course, another widely used term. It began showing up regularly in scientific papers in the 1970s, often referring to communities with both black and white members. But because of the specificity of “bi,” meaning two, some argued that “biracial” was too limited a term.

 Consensus remained elusive, and competing terms existed side-by-side. In Chicago, the Biracial Family Network (BFN) was founded in 1980. In 1986, a similar group founded halfway across the country called itself Multiracial Americans of Southern California. Influential books on the subject include Paul Spickard’s Mixed Blood, published in 1989, and Maria Root’s The Multiracial Experience and Naomi Zack’s American Mixed Race, both of which came out in 1995. (As did Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, ushering in what one researcher called a “multiracial memoir boom.”)

Then there’s the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, which debuted in 2011, and is the first major academic publication to focus on mixed-race identity. Lest you think naming the publication was easy, editor G. Reginald Daniel, the U.C. Santa Barbara professor, included a lengthy note in the first volume explaining the many factors that went into calling it the Journal of Mixed Race Studies, rather than Journal of Multiracial Studies, or Journal of Mixed-Race Studies or Journal of ‘Mixed’ Race Studies.

Ultimately, the publishers went with “Mixed Race” in the title, but it’s not the only term you’ll see in any given volume. “We accommodate the terms mixed race and multiracial interchangeably in the journal,” Daniel wrote, “since both are widely used in the field of mixed race/multiracial studies and consciousness, as well as in the public imagination.”

Embracing fluidity

Today, “mixed race” seems to have won out in academic writing. A Google Scholar search for that term results in 2.5 million results. Results for “biracial” and “multiracial” combined offer up about half that. But the debate continues, inside and outside the ivory tower.

Some resist any terminology for multiracial people, period. “All this talk is disturbing,” says Rainier Spencer, director of the Afro-American Studies Program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and self-professed racial skeptic. “What drives my antagonism is that people are coming in and saying, ‘We’re new, we’re different, we are the answer to race problems in America,'” says Spencer. “Population mixture has been going on for hundreds of years. Calling people ‘mixed’ erases the history of race in the U.S.”

The history of race and the weight of science, some might say. According to the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, “Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogenous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past.” So discussions of “mixedness” are even trickier, because they inherently rely on cultural, not scientific, understandings of race.

Sharon H. Chang is an activist and author of the new book Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World. She also runs social media for the Critical Mixed Race Studies team, which was founded through DePaul University. In her writing, Chang tends to use “mixed race” and “multiracial” interchangeably, but in regular conversation, when someone asks her about her background, she says “I’m mixed.” She used both in the title of her book to convey that there are ongoing conversations about terminology and what it means at any given time.

That sort of linguistic fluidity is common, says Andrew Jolivette, an activist and chair of the American Indian Studies Department at San Francisco State University. Jolivette says there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to describing someone’s racial identity. He recommends simply asking someone what they prefer, “because we all have different experiences,” he says. “I don’t think we should create universal truths for everybody. Everybody’s experience is different, even if we’re the same mix.”

But let’s be real: When it comes to how people describe themselves, most of us are more likely to take cues from celebrities and public figures than from painstakingly titled scholarly journals. RihannaDrakeKey and Peele and Shemar Moore have all used the term “biracial” to self-identify. Barack Obama, ever tongue-in-cheek, likes to throw around mongrel and muttSlash, Nicole Richie and Trevor Noah have used “mixed.” Author Mat Johnson, whose 2015 novel Loving Day centers heavily on mixed race identity, has reclaimed “mulatto” as his identifier of choice.

Some don’t use any of those words, choosing instead to describe their specific ethnic makeup, like Olivia Munn, who has spoken about being connected to multiple parts of East Asia, or Yawna Allen, a tennis player who’s Quapaw, Cherokee, Euchee, white and black.

Others just choose one identity and stick with it, like Melissa Harris-Perry, who acknowledges her white mother but identifies as straight-up African-American. In fact, according to Pew Social Trends, 61 percent of adults with a mixed racial background don’t consider themselves multiracial.

Source: All Mixed Up: What Do We Call People Of Multiple Backgrounds? : Code Switch : NPR

Reid: It’s time to call out those ‘politically incorrect’ politicians

Good piece by Scott Reid on political correctness (and incorrectness):

But, generally speaking, what is required of us to exhibit so-called “politically correct” behaviour is pretty innocuous. In most cases, it amounts to little more than taking the time to not be a dink. True, you can’t call a female co-worker sugar-shake or snap a towel as she walks by, undoubtedly the world has become a less friendly place for the Mad Men among us. But is that really such a bad thing? Is being obtuse or outright ignorant what actually made America great — or Canada for that matter?

In this context, we see a particularly odious trend emerging in our politics. Increasingly, we are subjected to a stampede of candidates who proclaim themselves proudly to be “politically incorrect.” It’s worn like a badge of honour, as though the self-affixed label instantly connects these politicians to “real” people and signals a willingness to tell it like it is, even if that gets them in trouble.

Of course, this is mostly calculated nonsense. Half of these candidates are simply chasing votes, playing to the prejudices of the perpetually angry and exploiting the willingness of Fox News and its imitators to dress up such sentiments as nostalgic heroism.

Donald Trump offers us a glimpse of where this kind of thing can lead. To keep the “politically incorrect” soundbite machine going, campaigns quickly exhaust legitimate grievances and must begin to manufacture divisions. All Muslims become waiting jihadists. A respected American judge is really a biased Mexican. Mexicans, by the way, are mostly drug runners and rapists. The next thing you know, you’re receiving endorsements from the white supremacist movement. But hey, it’s not really like that.  He’s not racist, he’s just being politically incorrect. So that makes it OK.

For those who comfort themselves that this is a trend limited to American politics, think again. With increasing regularity we see politicians in Canada positioning themselves in similar ways — perhaps not going so far as Trump’s bare-faced bigotry but happily adopting the politically incorrect label as a way to define themselves and draw the gushing admiration of certain media chains. Not everyone slides to the muddy bottom but that doesn’t make the slope any less slippery.

There is a deliberate cynicism in the way this idea of political incorrectness is being used. More and more, it is taken as license to say things that are vulgar, stupid, inconsiderate, bullying and false. And it’s prideful, openly daring people to bathe in their own ignorance and take exception at those who object.

No one is perfect, or even close. No one lives their life without giving offence or harbouring prejudices — conscious or otherwise. I don’t tell “fag” jokes like I did in Grade 5, but I still find ways to be rude and insensitive frequently. It’s doubtful that will ever change entirely. But surely the point is to try to be conscious of these behaviours. To want to correct, not celebrate them. And, at the very least attempt, whenever possible, to be understanding and open-minded.

The next time a politician humble-brags that he or she is “politically incorrect,” ask them what they mean by that exactly. What prejudices are they prepared to embrace? What slurs are just said in fun? Which particular clocks would they roll back? That’s not unfair. It’s just asking them to tell it like it is.

Qatar’s recruited athletes stir debate on citizenship

Common situation to all Gulf states, save perhaps the athlete example:

When 39 athletes from Qatar qualified for the Rio Olympics, the most in the tiny Gulf state’s history, Noor al-Shalaby celebrated the achievement in a Facebook post.

“Qatar! You are in my blood and my soul,” wrote the 34-year-old accountant.

The small team delivered the country’s first silver medal at the Rio Olympics.

And the Olympians – at least 23 of whom were born outside Qatar and brought in to help the country flourish athletically – are a source of pride for Egyptian-born Shalaby, who was raised in Qatar.

But their status is also a reminder of restrictive citizenship laws that have complicated Shalaby’s life and made her future uncertain.

Qatar has for years used its immense oil and gas wealth to recruit sportspeople from around the world, part of an ambitious vault onto the world sporting stage by the wealthy Arab state which will host the soccer World Cup in 2022.

Kenyan runners and Bulgarian weightlifters granted citizenship to compete internationally for Qatar are compared by outsiders to ‘mercenaries’ sent to win medals for Doha and promote its standing abroad.

But the practice of handing passports to these athletes has stirred a debate about national identity inside Qatar where residents like Shalaby who have lived in the country for decades, and whose expertise may be needed in a post-oil economy, have no obvious path to citizenship.

“I was born in Doha… my friends are Qatari and, in my heart, I am too.” she said. “Of course it hurts that I am not a citizen.”


The influx of foreigners into the once-impoverished Gulf states goes back to the discovery of oil in the 1930s.

The growth of hydrocarbon industries brought in thousands of Arab workers, including Syrians and Palestinians, to bolster small local populations.

Many secured jobs and settled in the Gulf among local Sunni Muslim populations who had traditionally lived in the desert or in small coastal towns, living off pearling and trade.

But as numbers of foreign residents rose and millions of South Asian labourers were brought in to power construction booms, tightly-knit Gulf populations saw demographic change as a threat to their way of life.

Attuned to this, Gulf authorities have kept heavily guarded rights to nationality.

Qatar, a former backwater that is the world’s largest LNG exporter, is home to a vast foreign population that ranges from low-paid construction labourers living in camps outside cities to top executives who receive generous tax-free salaries.

No legal provisions exist allowing foreigners, who account for around 90% of Qatar’s 2.3 million population, to become permanent residents.

Instead a handful of foreigners who must speak Arabic and have resided in the country for at least 25 consecutive years are absorbed into Qatar’s citizenry on a case by case basis that requires approval from the emir.

A Qatar government spokesperson was not immediately available to comment. Officials, including the former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, have said nationality is given to people who apply and fulfil regulations.


But some younger Qataris are now questioning the laws controlling citizenship, calling them outdated.

“If these guys get naturalized then what about doctors, scientists, engineers, academics and artists? Don’t they add more value to society?,” Hamad al-Khater, a public sector employee, tweeted after the Olympic debut of Qatar’s handball team, 11 out of 14 of whom are naturalised athletes.

A prominent Emirati commentator argued in a 2013 op-ed for citizenship to be opened to long-time foreign residents including entrepreneurs, scientists and academics who have contributed to society.

But many remain deeply apprehensive about relaxing citizenship laws: they fear the added expense – Qatar spends billions of dollars each year on free education, healthcare, and housing loans for its estimated 300,000 citizens – and question whether naturalised citizens could ever become true Qataris.

“Even without naturalising people, our identity is in a kind of crisis. Giving out passports would complicate things,” said businessman Abdullah al-Mohannadi, 32.

There is concern too that foreigners might have an adverse influence on Qatar’s dynastic political system and conservative culture – based on deep-rooted tribal values that are already considered under threat.

“What happens down the line when these individuals and their descendants call for change and go against Qatar’s political stability?” said Faisal al-Shadi, a Lebanese student born in Qatar. “These citizens might come together and challenge the status quo”.

After growth peaks and Qatar moves towards a post-oil economy, analysts say, the economic rationale for restricting citizenship could change.

“Qatar will need to attract long-term residents who can contribute to the tax base and support what will eventually become an ageing population,” said a Doha-based university lecturer.

“Residency rights are one way to entice professionals to stay in the country for longer.”

Source: Qatar’s recruited athletes stir debate on citizenship

Port du hijab: le SPVM «ouvert» à l’idée pour ses policières

Good that it provokes discussion in other police forces located in diverse communities (the SPVM does not report publicly on its diversity last time I checked):

La Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC) permet désormais à ses policières musulmanes de porter le hijab, mais qu’en est-il des principaux corps policiers du Québec ? Le Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) n’a jamais reçu de demandes à ce sujet, mais se dit « très ouvert » à l’idée.

Afin de refléter davantage la population canadienne et d’encourager des femmes musulmanes à envisager une carrière policière, la GRC a récemment décidé d’autoriser le port du hijab. La GRC insiste sur le fait que le foulard a été conçu pour être sécuritaire, après une série de tests rigoureux. La nouvelle a fait le tour du monde.

« Nous n’avons pas pris position sur le sujet, mais nous sommes très ouverts à ce genre de demandes », a indiqué hier la commandante du SPVM Marie-Claude Dandenault. Cette prise de position de la GRC incite le corps policier montréalais à évaluer la question, dit-elle. Au Canada, les forces armées, la police de Toronto et la police d’Edmonton permettent déjà le port du foulard.

« J’ai toujours dit, tant qu’il y a le visage découvert, je n’ai pas de problème avec ça », a quant à lui déclaré hier le maire de Montréal, Denis Coderre, en réponse à une question sur le sujet.

Comme le SPVM, la Sûreté du Québec (SQ) n’a jamais reçu de demandes de ses membres en ce sens.

 « On n’a jamais pris position », a indiqué le lieutenant Jason Allard, responsable des communications au sein de la police provinciale, qui a souligné qu’il ne voulait pas commenter la décision de la GRC

« On n’a jamais eu de demandes d’accommodement d’uniformes pour des motifs religieux », indique le lieutenant Jason Allard, responsable des communications à la SQ.

Le lieutenant Allard affirme que la Sûreté du Québec a fait des efforts au cours des dernières années afin d’augmenter le nombre de femmes et de membres issus des communautés culturelles au sein du corps policier. « On privilégie une meilleure représentation de toutes les cultures, mais on ne vise pas de groupe spécifique comme l’a fait la GRC », dit-il.

And Calgary is already ahead:

Liberals replacing Harper Tories’ anti-terror project with new program

Looks like the Kanishka Project, one of the previous government’s rare and good “committing sociology” initiatives, will continue albeit in different form:

As the Liberals prepare to launch their signature anti-terrorism initiative, they have closed the door on a previous one by the Conservative government.

On Thursday, Liberal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released a report on the terrorist threat to Canada that said the Islamic State is the main concern. The report also said that a five-year initiative by the Tories that had delivered $10-million, mostly to academics researching terrorism in hopes of finding ways to understand and fight it, had ceased operations in March.

The initiative, known as the Kanishka Project, began in 2011, and the Conservatives promised last year to renew it if they were re-elected. The Liberals pledged a more hands-on approach. Last week, Mr. Goodale said that by the end of the summer, he will appoint an official to advise the government on de-radicalization.

The office of the adviser is expected to cost $7-million to $10-million a year, and the government says it is intended to get civil servants, academics, religious and ethnic communities to work together to find ways to deal with extremists.

The Liberals are calling this a wholly new approach for Canada, but experts say this office may absorb the function of the Kanishka Project.

“In a sense, the new office will be the successor of Kanishka. … There is more continuity than discontinuity,” said Lorne Dawson, a University of Waterloo professor who studies terrorism. The one big difference, he said, is “that there is now a stress on actually doing something in terms of [countering violent extremism].”

In 2012, Dr. Dawson co-founded the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, which got hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from Kanishka. Saying the old program blazed a trail for serious study of terrorism, he anticipates the new government office will also finance such work.

The terrorism report said Kanishka was not renewed when its five-year funding ran out in the spring. “Public Safety and its partners continue to publish results and build on the program’s research,” it said, adding that the new counterradicalization office will “foster research on radicalization to violence” among other functions.

Source: Liberals replacing Harper Tories’ anti-terror project with new program – The Globe and Mail