An English flag flew above a migrant camp in Calais, France, on Friday, after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Photo credit: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

A Lesson from ‘Brexit’ : On Immigration, Feelings Trumps Facts

27 juin 2016

« The progress of the last 50 years, particularly in Europe, has made it easy to buy into the idea that the forces of nationalism, xenophobia and prejudice are mere irrationalities, market distortions that will naturally fade away in the long arc of history.

Last week’s vote highlighted — not for the first time, but with unusual clarity — the hole in that theory. For many people, identity trumps economics. They will pay a high price (literally, in this case) to preserve a social order that makes them feel safe and powerful. »

This perceptive analysis teaches us that only allowing migrants to participate in political debates could stem the flow of fantasies and stereotypes which feed the populist fears – just as only women’s participation in political debates stemmed the flow of sexist prejudice over time – and offer mainstream politicians the space and tools to create a pro-migration, pro-mobility and pro-diversity discourse which would sound convincing during electoral campaign.

To read the full article by Amanda Taub in the NY Times, please click here.

  Some Muslim women in Belgium have protested against restrictions on wearing headscarves. Photo credit: BBC/Getty images

Top EU court adviser backs workplace Muslim headscarf ban – yet another intolerant opinion

31 mai 2016

In a controversial opinion issued to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), an Advocate General to the ECJ, Julianne Kokott, agreed that employers in the EU may be able to ban Muslim staff from wearing headscarves to work as long as it is part of a general prohibition on all religious symbols.

While this legal opinion is not binding, nor is it a final ruling of the ECJ, it is quite authoritative and once again sends an utterly wrong message. Instead of sending a message of openness and freedom first, with only individually and restrictively justified limitations, it sends out a message of religious intolerance aimed at only one religion, Islam. Because, frankly, who cares about small crosses on a chain or kipas ? Sikh turbans however will be collateral damage to this ban.

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  La file d'attente pour le renouvellement des permis de séjour devant la préfecture de Lyon, le 16 février 2015. Crédit photo JEFF PACHOUD / AFP

Un rapport du Défendeur des droits dénonce la discrimination des étrangers en France

28 mai 2016

Un article paru dans le journal Le Monde fait état des conclusions du Défenseur des droits sur la situation des étrangers et le respect et l’accès à leurs droits en France. Malgré les constats alarmants par rapport à la situation des étrangers en France, il faut saluer et se réjouir du travail de ces institutions nationales de surveillance et de contrôle ainsi que des ombudsmans qui peuvent documenter les violations des droits de la personne. Leurs enquêtes complètes, leurs rapports détaillés ainsi que leur analyse fiable ajoutent considérablement au savoir public et participent au changement des perceptions des migrants dans la société.

Pour lire les résumés ainsi que le rapport complet du Défenseur des droits, veuillez cliquez ici.

  Turkish soldiers patrol in Hatay province along Turkey's new border wall with Syria in February 2016. Photo credit: 2016 Anadolu Agency

Turkish border guards are shooting and beating Syrian asylum seekers

28 mai 2016

« Turkish border guards are shooting and beating Syrian asylum seekers trying to reach Turkey, resulting in deaths and serious injuries, Human Rights Watch said today. The Turkish authorities should stop pushing Syrian asylum seekers back at the border and should investigate all use of excessive force by border guards. »

This should be an extremely serious concern in view of the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement and of the position taken by the EU and Greece that Turkey is a “safe third country” where Syrians asylum seekers can be automatically sent back without substantial analysis of the conditions of their return.

To read the whole report on Human Rights Watch, please click here.

  The pupils said that shaking hands with a woman who was not related to them would go against their religious beliefs. Photo credit: Science photo library.

Switzerland : Muslim students must shake teacher’s hand

Article by BBC
25 mai 2016

« Muslim students in Switzerland must shake their teacher’s hand at the beginning and end of lessons, a regional authority has ruled.

A controversial exemption from the tradition had been granted for two teenage brothers whose interpretation of the Koran meant they were unwilling to touch a member of the opposite sex.

If they continue to refuse, their parents could face a fine.

The regional authority said teachers « had the right » to demand handshakes.

Shaking teachers’ hands as a sign of respect is a longstanding tradition in Switzerland.

When it emerged last month that a middle school had allowed two Syrian brothers aged 14 and 15 to avoid the tradition due to their religious beliefs, it sparked a national controversy.

The boys, whose father is an imam, said their faith did not allow them to shake hands with a woman who was not related to them. »

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