We live in interesting times. Britain made it even more interesting by voting to leave the European Union last week. While people always vote for a number of reasons, it is safe to say that one of the major Brexit war-cry was against migrants coming to the UK. It's another matter that a quick glance at the BBC website will reveal that "almost 5.5million British people live permanently abroad - almost one in 10 of the UK population".
To be sure, Britain is not alone in fearing migration. Such political forces, which are giving winds to anti-migration sentiments are on the rise in other parts of Europe too.
Interestingly though, after the results, the Brexit camp has already started changing its tone on immigration. If anything, this points towards the established reality of today's modern globalised world - migration is there to stay and has immense benefits for both the hosts as well as the migrants.
And what about New Zealand?
This newspaper feels that we are lucky in the sense that, while we do have some political noise about anti-migrant sentiments from time-to-time, the average Kiwis are open to migration.
Yes, we do have issues.
But as Canterbury Migrants Centre's General Manager, Henry Jaiswal argues, "Every migrant and host community goes through a four-stage process before we achieve successful integration. Which essentially means that the migrant communities while retaining their ethnic culture, accepts the local ways of life as their own. The host culture too gets enriched as a result. In this, the first stage is forming, followed by storming, which leads to normalising, and then performing is achieved.I believe we are at the storming stage now, and it will be at five to ten years before the performing stage is reached."
The migrant population often complains about difficulty in securing jobs, but going by Sir Robert Jones article published in National Business Review, May 27, 2016, "Tertiary courses should come with warning: No jobs here", situation is not so rosy for young Kiwi graduates either. Sir Jones notes - only 15% of new teaching graduates are able to secure permanent teaching employment, and only 5% of Otago University's physical training degree holderssecure their study-related positions.
Every year when Ramadhan comes around, most non-muslims around me responds with a sympathetic look and the almost compulsory, "Not even water?”. I just smiled and think, "No, but you don't understand, it's more than that....”
Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. This means that it is obligatory for Muslims to observe it, if they are capable. During this time, Muslims observing Ramadhan refrain from eating, drinking and sexual intimacy from dawn to dusk.
Ramadan is like a Warrant of Fitness for us, it is not just refraining from eating from dawn to dusk. You are forced to check yourself, and refrain from offending or hurting anyone or their feelings in any way. Not easy to do when you're hungry! It teaches discipline, self-control, sacrifice, compassion, and makes me reflect on my priorities and relationship with the Creator and the universe around me.
Significance of Eid
Eid ul-Fitr is the celebration to mark the end of Ramadhan. Muslims start the day of Eid with a special prayer together with the community. The diversity of the Muslim community is on full display here, where thousands from every ethnic group you can imagine join in remembrance and love for one another and for God.
Eid is typically spent with visits to (and from!) relatives and friends’s homes, enjoying each other's company, food and strengthening our sense of belonging with one another. A beautiful part of this tradition is how we will ask forgiveness from one another for hurting each other in any way, especially to our parents. For the childre it is their favourtie time of the year! They eagerly receive money packets, sweets and presents and it is especially rewarding for those who tried their hand at some fasting.
Recently, Prime Minister John Key, who himself is a second-generation immigrant to New Zealand [his mother Ruth Key was a Jewish refugee born in Vienna, Austria], while advising New Zealanders not be frightened by immigration, reminded everyone that not so long ago the country was worried about Kiwis leaving the country. The situation was such that if you wanted to see your grandchildren, you had to be at the departure lounge of the airports, he said.
%ageof Māori able to hold an everyday conversation in the Māori language: (round-off figures)
•1996 - 25%
•2001 - 25%
•2006 - 24%
•2013 - 21%
In the 19th century, Hebrew - the official language of Israel - had no native speakers. Today, it has over eight million, making the transition of Hebrew from a "dead" langauge to be hailed as the most successful language revival project of all time. May be there in lies the lessons for te reo!