christian nations

September 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

a friend of mine said, here in egypt the racism about religion, and in the states it is about color.

i wasnt so sure about the analogy, until i mentioned that on the birth certificates and most important documents, applications in the states, you are asked to fill in your race.

she was shocked.  ‘they ask you what color you are?  on the birth certificates?’ and she laughed.

of course, when she had earlier told me that on the birth certificate in egypt, you are expected to list your religion and the only options are muslim, jewish and christian’.  i just shook my head.  how silly.

‘why would it matter what religion you are?  and why can you only choose those three?’

so i am thinking about this.  how important race is in the states and how normal that seems.

dont get me wrong there is racism and colorism in egypt.  but it is interesting the categories that seem essential to our national identity and citizenship.

i say all this knowing that islamophobia has reached ridiculous heights in the states and in the europe.  we are seeing the re-emergence of nations in the west referring to themselves as ‘christian nations’.

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§ 2 Responses to christian nations

  • Aaminah says:

    from the perspective of an Islamic nation, there is a reason for asking what religion a person is. within a (correct) Islamic society, there are different responsibilities that a Muslim has to the state (and vice versa) versus what non-Muslims have. non-Muslims are supposed to pay a small support tax and be exempted from non-voluntary military duty, for example. whereas Muslims are required to pay zakat, required to be ready to defend the nation (though there are legit exemptions), etc. also, because in a (correct) Islamic society, the Jews & Christians are supposed to be able to maintain their own laws and be judged in courts based on their laws/punishments. so there is a lot of good in making that distinction on ones’ documents. but you are right, of course, that there should be more options than just those three. also, realistically, there isn’t even one single “Islamic” nation that is honoring the state’s responsibility to its non-Muslim citizens, or even it’s Muslim citizens for that matter, so to us asking religion appears outmoded and ridiculous. they aren’t using it in the way it was intended, but they are actively (at least in the case of some countries, like Egypt… maybe this isn’t as true or true in the same way in some other countries) misusing it and with the inten to discrimination.

    of course, the U.S. will tell you that they have altruistic aims in asking for “race” as well. for example (as you know but maybe readers don’t), non-profits are required to collect race data on the populations they serve and to report it to funders, the state, and the public if asked. the reason given, which sounds valid, is to ensure that they are being non-discriminatory, serving a diverse population, and/or are actually serving those who are otherwise underserved/most targetted for the need of services. in theory, this is good. i mean, if your program is designed to address high infant mortality and your community has a Black IM rate that is 5x what it is for whites, you definitely want to target your services. while you wouldn’t refuse to serve white families, you certainly want to be able to show that the majority of yoru work/funds/efforts went to addressing Black IM specifically and that you were able somehow to decrease the rates. but, like the “what religion” issue outside the U.S., there is also rampant room for abuse of the question, and valid reason for suspicion of the REAL intention/preoccupation/planning involved in the asking. for example, it is interesting to note the ways that First Nations people are intentionally undercounted. first, we are the only ones required to show proof when we say who we are. second, agencies will still mark us down as either “multi-racial” (which while often true effectively erases our First Nations status) or as whatever “color” they think we most look like. this allows the state to not provide for the true number of First Nations people, to not honor their responsibilities to us, to discriminate against us by simply saying that they couldn’t find a significant enough population to ensure our voice was heard, and to deny open discrimination (for example, by listing prisoners as white instead, states are able to make it “look like” they do not have a disproportionate number of First Nations prisoners, which also helps to balance out the questions about the disproportionate number of incarcerated people of color in general).

  • Br00ke says:

    Where’s the like button for that comment?

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