Yesterday I was in the town. I happened to be meeting with a friend who truly understands climate change (but that is for another blog) to talk about these matters. After, I decided to visit a nearby fish and chips shop (Royal Fish Bar) to get my OAP fish and chips. There was another reason for the visit though. At the weekend the “soup kitchen” (Street Spirit) that I happen to chair faced a minor emergency. It had been let down regarding hot food and the folk from Royal Fish Bar were asked if they could help. They dropped everything and 30+ guests were fed. When I thanked the owner, he pointed out that his religion teaches that those who have should help those that have not. He is a Muslim from Pakistan.
I mention this because Islam and Muslims and immigration are hot topics right now, for more than one reason. As I have often pointed out, I have been making friends with Muslims ever since my college days and there are many I have a great regard for and are assets to any community. I have even tried to learn some Arabic and study the Koran and commentaries (both Muslim and Christian) in order to enhance my knowledge. I say this against a backdrop of ignorance by many in government and among those who protest against the latest Donald Trump “outrage” – his alleged banning of Muslims entering the USA. This is evidenced even in my own town, when a number of friends yesterday protested in the town centre.
Like many, I look with consternation at the refugee crisis that has been unfolding in the Middle East in particular in recent years, partly as a result of the misguided actions of an inept previous US administration. I have worked with groups to help sanctuary seekers entering my own country and have been doing so before this became a popular thing to do. I also subscribe to the Bible mandate to look after the foreigner that happens to be residing in my country. Yet I am not altogether unsympathetic to this Trump Executive Order that has added fuel to the fire of outrage that appears to be spreading. On the other hand, I put it somewhat in the “Sledgehammer to crack a nut category” given there are genuine cases of people needing to enter the USA for good reasons e.g. family but have been prevented. My strong suggestion to Mr. Trump is that he reconsider and modify the ban, concerning these anomalies.
But I would like to end with a number of points supporting why in principle I agree with Trump’s policy concerning banning travel from seven countries which he considers pose a risk to homeland security: Like Christianity, Islam is open to interpretation. It is clear to me that Islam for many Muslims is more than about personal religion; it is also about political control. For some, that control is gained by waging holy war, the evidence of which is seen in the many terrorist attacks witnessed in recent years. The job of government is primarily to take care of the security of its people.
While I may not agree with the way Mr Trump has gone about it, I recognize he needed to because this had been neglected by the previous administration. I am pleased he has backtracked on targeting Muslims (since America has always embraced freedom of religion) even though the seven countries included in the ban have majority Muslim populations. He is only doing what his predecessor did before him (except it was not picked up on). Securing the borders is needed. It seems farcical that the feminist types involved in the recent Womens marches should among their other demands, be calling for the adoption of Sharia Law, which arguably oppresses women. There should be one law – the law of the land.
When it comes to immigration, it seems reasonable that in principle any country should be able to determine who they let in. As for refugees, this is not an issue that can be ducked; thus my earlier reticence. But Trump is right to question the UN process for vetting refugees and it should be noted Christians are usually excluded because they can’t access refugee camps safely. Tonight I will be attending a meeting of folk whose main aim is to help refugees. While we all have ideas of what needs to be done, ideally with a view that refugees can be eventually repatriated to their places of origin, there is a humanitarian need to do something now.