“Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists broke matzo with Jewish Israelis in a Tel Aviv basketball court before this year’s Passover began. The “Out of Egypt” seder, a thousand-strong gathering in a seedy park near the central bus station, was four days early; many of the guests—African refugees and Asian migrant workers—are busy cleaning Israeli homes during Passover proper. The Sudanese and Eritrean guests have literal Out-of-Egypt stories to tell: Most lived in Cairo for months or years before crossing the Sinai by foot to get to Israel. But there’s no Moses in their exodus stories. There are Bedouin smugglers who charge thousands of dollars to lead them through the desert. There are Egyptian border guards who shoot. There are barbed-wire fences to run and jump—if they make it, into another people’s Zion.”
Posts Tagged ‘immigration’
In my previous post, I discussed the ambivalent legacy of the Catholic Church in Québec in light of the recent canonization of the province’s first homegrown saint. I suggested that the post-sixties rise of Québécois nationalism emerged largely at the expense of this Catholic identity, which many blamed for Québec’s longtime passivity in the face of English-Canadian domination, even as the Church also played a key historical role in the survival of French-Canadian culture. In this post, I would like to suggest the ways in which this complex politico-religious legacy has shaped current debates over the “reasonable accommodation” of immigrants in Québec.
In The New York Times, Jürgen Habermas discusses the current political situation in Germany and the general challenge to liberal democracy enfolded in attempts to define and defend a national culture.
A controversial bill passed the Israeli Knesset’s (Parliament) law committee this week. The Rotem Bill, as it is known (named after its sponsor, David Rotem, a member of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party), would give ultimate control of the conversion process to the ultra-orthodox, Haredi, rabbinate. This bill has caused both concern and indignation in the diasporic Jewish community. See Alana Newhouse’s recent op-ed in The New York Times.
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in 2009 to close a loophole in immigration law that discriminated against homosexuals. As Sarah Posner documents at Religion Dispatches, this provision has become more controversial as the democrats have reached out to religious organizations to help in their fight for immigration reform.
In a recent article for Mother Jones, Suzy Khimm asks whether a right-wing schism may be developing over immigration reform. In recent months, many evangelical leaders- including conservative Christians like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention- have voiced support for immigration reform that would include a pathway to legalization for many undocumented immigrants. While Land’s group has supported a comprehensive approach to reform for several years, he has become more adament in his support since the passage of Arizona’s contentious immigration law. These increased efforts by conservative Christians on behalf of immigrants have created conflict between their groups and right-wing groups opposed to immigration reform, making former allies into possible political enemies.
Recent events in Europe, from the cartoon crisis in Denmark to the controversy over the construction of minarets in Switzerland, have brought the status of Islam in the secular public sphere to the forefront of European political debates. The consequences of these debates can be seen in a hardening of the boundary between what is public and what is private, as many assume that religion generally belongs to the private sphere. Collective views in Europe have come to dictate that any claim or expression in public space deriving from religious beliefs be seen as illegitimate. As Jürgen Habermas has noted, the liberal vision of a secular public sphere imposes a special burden on the shoulders of religious citizens. Many believers, however, would not be able to undertake such an artificial division in their own minds between their religious beliefs and their civic commitments without destabilizing their existence as pious persons.