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  1. #1
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    Default The Arab world needs to admit it's racist

    The Arab world needs to admit it's racist

    4.6.2017

    Racism is a problem in the Arab world, yet too many people in the region deny it. Last week, an Ethiopian domestic worker fell from the balcony of her employer’s home in Kuwait. It was caught on camera, and though the woman survived, she later revealed that her employer was trying to kill her.


    "The lady put me in the bathroom and was about to kill me in the bathroom without anybody finding out," the worker said.


    "She would have thrown my body out like rubbish, so instead of staying there I went to save myself and then I fell."


    This isn’t an isolated incident. Many Arab countries have maintained the kafala – or sponsorship system – which ties the legal status of low-wage migrant workers directly to their employer, giving the latter power to take away workers’ passports, withhold their salaries, and subject them to harrowing abuse.


    In Arab countries where kafala isn’t applied, refugees and non-Western migrants are routinely abused by the state, their host community, and even aid organisations that were founded to help them.


    The irony is disturbing. In a world where Muslims and Arabs have long been subjected to racism and imperial conquest, too many Arab societies have failed to consider how they treat the most vulnerable migrants living among them.


    And here lies the most obvious paradox: how can a society defeat racism when they perpetuate it themselves?


    A worker, not a slave


    Last year, the US State Department’s Trafficking in Person’s report listed six Arab States on their watch list. Each country on the list apart from Lebanon is a member of the Gulf Cooporation Council (GCC). The kafala system, however, is something they all have in common.


    In places, such as Qatar and Kuwait, more than 90 percent of the labour force is imported from South and Southeast Asia and Africa. Most workers elect to migrate to these countries since it remains one of few viable options to support their families back home.


    Recruiters do their part to lure workers by propagating false promises of a fair wage and a day off each week. It’s not until many workers arrive that they realise they’ve been trafficked into performing slave-like labour which they would have never consented to.


    The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that more than 4,000 low wage workers will die while building infrastructure for Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup.


    Four months ago, Qatar modified their labor laws, which they claimed would better protect the rights of migrant workers. However, rights groups said that the reforms barely ‘scratch the surface’ in terms of safeguarding against abuse and exploitation.


    Qatari officials have refused to own up and have instead accused rights groups of spreading "negative publicity" about their country. This rebuttal is as ridiculous as it is self-centred. If Qataris are that concerned with their image in the global arena, then they should abolish a system that functions to enslave people.


    Dying to escape


    Domestic migrant workers – generally women – are even more vulnerable. In Lebanon, they are excluded from basic protections under the labour law. And like elsewhere in the region, many are locked indoors and routinely subjected to starvation, rape and death. The female head of the household is sometimes the perpetrator, or in the very least, complicit in the abuse.


    In 2008, Human Rights Watch found that at least one domestic migrant worker in Lebanon was dying each week as a result of "unnatural causes" such as alleged suicide or after suspiciously falling from tall buildings. Activists suspect that the rate of deaths remains just as high today.


    Politicians never seem to take the mistreatment of migrant workers seriously enough. Former Lebanese labour minister Sejaan Azzi went so far as to say that abuse against domestic workers was "‘exaggerated" despite mounting evidence to the contrary.


    Local rights groups have nonetheless lobbied tirelessly in support of migrant workers, yet large segments of Lebanese society continue to normalise racism.


    It’s no secret, for instance, that domestic workers from Africa and South Asia are typically the cheapest to recruit. Filipino workers are at the top of the racial hierarchy because of their lighter skin. While their wages are also abysmal, they generally receive more money.


    Two years ago, a group of Lebanese mothers also formed an NGO to "defend their treatment" of migrant workers. One member of the group, Helen Atala Geara, argued that if domestic workers joined unions and fought for their rights, they wouldn’t be available to fulfill the needs of the household.


    This logic is terrifying. Geara’s argument has been reused by generations of misogynist men to subjugate women. And now Arab women like her, who have been excluded from white mainstream feminism, are failing to defend those trapped in the kafala system.


    Fifty shades of racism

    Elsewhere in the region, racism exposes itself in more subtle ways. Members of Egypt’s Nubian community, for instance, are often portrayed as servants in the media and scapegoated for street violence.


    And yet, Nubian activists say that they are still treated better than sub-Saharan migrants and refugees. In Egypt, the darker you are, the harsher the discrimination.


    That was obvious after a senior Egyptian official allegedly called sub-Saharan Africans "dogs and slaves" during a diplomatic visit to Kenya last year.


    As expected, Egypt’s regime denied the allegations and claimed to be insulted that their African pride would even be questioned. But this case isn’t an exception, it’s the norm.


    The Arabic word for "slave" is often colloquially used to address black Africans in the Middle East. Just think about the uproar – and how justified the anger – when racists refer to Arabs in an equally degrading way.


    Jordan enacts the same double standard. Last year, Queen Rania of Jordan spoke out against rising Islamophobia and in support of Syrians in Europe. She went so far to say that "refugees are not numbers, but human beings like you and me".


    Her words might still resonate if Jordan hadn't deported 800 Sudanese refugees for demonstrating against the UN refugee agency later that year.


    Of course, racism is not exclusive to the Arab world, but neither is it immune. Not enough people speak out when they see a person of colour being harassed, and it seems that even fewer bat an eyelid after one has been killed.


    It’s time more Arabs defend the rights of others as much as they defend their own. Racism is rampant in the region, and only solidarity, not denial, can beat it.

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns...ist-1311740542

  2. #2
    islamirama.wordpress.com Array
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    Why Saudi Arabia would rather pay a ransom to Trump than support its own people

    The price tag of an audience with Donald Trump is high, and rising. Saudi Arabia has already pledged an estimated $300bn in defence contracts over the next decade and $40bn in infrastructure investment. The final figure, according to some on Wall Street, could yet rise to $1 trillion of investment in the US economy.

    By the time he touches down in Riyadh on Friday, Trump will have bagged the biggest arms deal in US history. He will have made good on his promise to make the House of Saud pay – even for rockets it may never use.

    If there is a war with Iran, it will be the US that fights it. South Korea, a country much closer to a shooting match with its neighbour, is proving to be a tougher buyer of American anti-missile defence systems. It is balking at paying $1bn for the THAAD system. Not so Riyadh.

    The White House was jubilant at the effect this unexpected windfall of Saudi cash could have on jobs back home. The official readout of the meeting that took place last month between Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump said as many as one million jobs could be created directly at home, and millions more in the supply chain.

    The question being asked by Saudis who, unlike the 31-year-old prince, cannot afford to buy, on a whim, a Russian billionaire’s yacht or a chain of islands in the Maldives, is this one: “How in God’s name can you shower so much money on the Americans when you are so reluctant to do so on your own people?”

    The official unemployment rate is 12 percent, and the real one is much higher. They are struggling to put doctors in hospitals and the kingdom’s largest fund that pays the pensions of public sector workers and the military, the General Retirement Foundation, announced last week its reserves had been depleted.

    Which statement of Deputy Economy Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri do most Saudis believe? The one in which he announced the kingdom had reduced its first quarter deficit by more than a half, due to austerity, or the earlier one in which he warned that the kingdom would be bankrupt within four years if the oil price remained at between $40 and $45 a barrel? He was not the only one. The IMF too warned the kingdom faced bankruptcy. Which Saudi does not think more austerity, and a new VAT tax, are around the corner?
    Bygone days of desks and wheelchairs

    There are two possible reasons why the kingdom is prepared to shower their richer American cousins with more riches.

    The first is a personal one. Mohammed bin Salman is paying a king’s ransom, or at least he sincerely hopes it will be. Long gone are the days when gifts of state were modest. One of the exhibits in the museum of the founder of the kingdom, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, in Riyadh is a modest desk that President Franklin D Roosevelt gave him after their first meeting on board a US destroyer. He also got one of the US president’s two wheelchairs. These days a desk or a wheelchair would be an insult, compared to the kickback for an arms contract.

    The second is a collective reason. The kingdom got such a shock from an Obama administration which made peace with Iran its main objective, that it never wants to feel exposed to the desert winds again. Saudi Arabia is paying protection money even for arms it is never likely to use.

    It would, however, be premature to take Bin Salman’s claims for granted. Even if that is his ambition, does Bin Salman yet speak for his country or even the royal family? He is still one removed from inheriting the throne, and his elder – and some would say wiser – cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, has no intention of surrendering the pole position of crown prince.
    Fallout in Yemen

    All crown princes lie low and say nothing. Bin Nayef is still in charge of one of three military forces in the kingdom, the powerful interior ministry which controls the borders. It has not been uncommon for foreign visitors invited by Bin Salman to spend awkward moments being questioned at Bin Nayef’s border control, just to send a message. Bin Nayef in private remains quietly confident.

    Bin Nayef initially backed the air campaign his younger cousin, the defence minister, launched against the Houthis in Yemen. There are rumours that he does not now. The latest disaster to befall Bin Salman is the fall out that has taken place between the Yemeni president whose legitimacy he is protecting, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, and Saudi’s chief military ally, the Emirati crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed.

    After a shouting match between Hadi and Bin Zayed in February over the control of Aden Airport, Bin Zayed’s Yemeni allies have seceded from the exiled president’s control, splitting the forces attempting to retake Yemen from the Houthis into at least two factions. The politics of Bin Salman are in chaos. He depends on Hadi as the source of legitimacy for his air strikes, but has to prevent him from flying to the liberated south of Yemen.

    Bin Zayed, for his part, is not willing to give in. He has always had a bigger prize in Yemen than the Iranian-backed Houthis. Indeed, as I first reported, he first encouraged the Houthis to rise against Hadi until their insurrection got out of control. His target is the eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah movement.

    Through the son of the former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, bin Zayed is pursuing active negotiations with the Houthis’ main military partner. And through his surrogates Bin Zayed is intent on pursuing his original objectives.

    Bin Zayed is nothing if not consistent.

    What if

    Let us just play a mind game. Let us imagine that, instead of opposing the Arab Spring and the popular uprisings of 2011, Saudi Arabia decided to invest and develop the Arab world. Let us imagine that the House of Saud put $340bn into backing the results of free elections in Egypt, and Libya and Yemen, instead of backing military coups and counter-revolutions.

    Where would the House of Saud and the Arab world be now? It would not be plain sailing. The first rulers to come to power after dictatorship would long since have been kicked out, but at least a tradition would have been established to use the ballot box rather than the bullet to do so.

    Economies would be well on the way to transition. The Arab world would be full of Western tourists. The beaches of Tunisia and the pyramids of Egypt would not now be empty. There might be a secession movement in Sinai, but there would not be the Islamic State presence there. The jihadis would long since have gone back to their caves in Afghanistan. They would have regarded their mission as a failure.

    The House of Saud, the bankers of peaceful change, would now be hailed as heroes. They could have had as many luxury yachts or islands as they wanted. They would not need to pay Trump blood money. How more secure their world would now be if they had already embarked on the only journey left for them: one from absolute to constitutional monarchy.

    What is taking place in the region today is a history lesson for slow learners. Trump is looking forward to the welcome he will get in Riyadh, a distraction from the storm clouds gathering at home. But his administration is looking, even to Republican eyes, as one that is spiralling downwards. As it is, 56 Muslim and Arab leaders will gather in Riyadh to listen to Trump giving them a lecture on democracy and preach to them about Islam. What a strange world we live in.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...ts-own-people/

  3. #3
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    Dubai: No More 90 Days Tourist Visa for Philippines and Pakistan Nationals

    6/1/2017

    As of today, 1st of June, 90-day Dubai tourist visas will no longer be given to nationals of the Philippines and Pakistan.

    A memo was circulated earlier today by Dubai Immigration to all travel agencies instructing them to stop accepting applications for the 90 days tourist visa to those two nationalities and only allow 14 days or 30 days visa.

    Applications made yesterday will still be valid, and anyone already holding a 90 days visa will still be able to use it.

    A manager at a Dubai travel agency commented: “We are not sure whether this is a temporary or permanent stop. As of now we have been instructed not to accept applications. There is a possibility that we process the applications through an other Emirate but will definitely have higher restrictions and would be more costly”.

    https://uaeviral.com/dubai-no-more-9...stan-nationals


 

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