Anwer Sher at PostGlobal

Anwer Sher

Dubai, UAE

Originally from Pakistan, Anwer Sher is based in Dubai and writes for Gulf News, Khaleej Times and Emirates Today. His varied career experience includes banking, consulting, and real estate development. He has a Masters degree in International Relations. Close.

Anwer Sher

Dubai, UAE

Originally from Pakistan, Anwer Sher is based in Dubai and writes for Gulf News, Khaleej Times and Emirates Today. His varied career experience includes banking, consulting, and real estate development. He has a Masters degree in International Relations. more »

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Allegiance, Not Assimilation

The Current Discussion: France has rejected a citizenship application from a burqa-wearing Moroccan woman on the grounds that she has "insufficiently assimilated" to French culture. Should cultural assimilation be a requirement for citizenship?

Is cultural xenophobia a good thing? Has the concept of nation-state reached a point where rigid lines of acceptance or rejection become the sole driving force for cultural preservation? I can understand the overwhelming desire for people to protect their 'culture.' But in an interdependent world, 'assimilation' should absolutely not be the only criteria for immigration. While I personally do not think the veil is an issue and think it is and should continue to be a matter of personal choice, to use it as the sole reason for rejecting an applicant is short-sighted and closed-minded. As much as I did not agree with the Taliban forcing their style and view of Islam, I equally do not agree with the French using people’s preferences as a means to discriminate.

Similarly, I would agree that the Saudi policy on women driving or forcing women to cover themselves is always a form of cultural imposition that is wrong. As I see Islam, it asks people to be modest in their dress and doesn't necessarily suggest forcing them to cover. I know many will disagree with this view, but the reality remains that Islamic theology’s stronger message is one of tolerance, not imposition.

The French cannot roll back history and suddenly say that all left-handed camel drivers, to choose a random example, could not enter France, or that any French citizen who decided to wear a hat other than the French beret would be stripped of his citizenship. All that should be asked of an immigrant is allegiance to the country to which they have immigrated. They can keep their traditions, religious beliefs and cultural idiosyncrasies as long as they bear allegiance to their adopted country for political or economic reasons.

I have difficulty accepting people who immigrate to, say, the U.S., but then continue to use it as a country of convenience, still insisting they are Lebanese, Pakistani or Indian. Once you immigrate to a country it becomes yours; whether or not you become a Westernized person is a matter of personal choice.

Nations that claim to be multi-cultural and multi-ethnic are implicitly acknowledging that they are a conglomeration of many different influences. The United States is a perfect example. In some cases like Great Britain, the result of long periods of colonization has meant that the people they colonized had access to jobs and life in Great Britain on account of colonial history. Back in the 1960s, immigrants were offered plenty of jobs that Caucasian English refused. This is perhaps true of France and others, too. Perhaps the bigger fear is that what’s happening now is a reverse colonization.

Irrespective, I find any form of discrimination to be extremely inhumane and intolerable. This France did not need to do.

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