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Author Topic: UNHCR chief launches book on Islam's contributions to refugee law  (Read 725 times)
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salaampeaceshalom
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« on: Jun 26, 2009 06:21 PM »


So I think some of you know that I'm working with people who are refugees, and I came across this whilst researching for a paper that I'm writing.  Thought it was interesting and would like to get ahold of the book:

http://www.unhcr.org/4a42245e9.html

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 24 (UNHCR) – A UNHCR-sponsored book on the influence of Islam and Arab tradition on modern-day international refugee law was released this week in Saudi Arabia, at a ceremony addressed by High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

The comparative study, commissioned by Guterres and contained in a new book by Cairo University law professor and dean of the law faculty, Ahmed Abu Al-Wafa, was launched at Naif Arab University in Riyadh. Presiding over the ceremony were Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier, Minister of Interior and head of Naif Arab University's Supreme Council and the university's president , Professor Abdul-Aziz bin Saqr al-Ghamedi.

The book says Islam's 1,400-year-old tradition of generosity toward people fleeing persecution has had more influence on modern-day international refugee law than any other historical source.

In remarks as part of Naif Arab University's commencement exercise, the High Commissioner said "all the principles embodied in modern international refugee law are to be found in the Shari'ah. Protection of refugees, their property and families, non-refoulement [forced return], the civilian character of asylum, voluntary repatriation – all are referred to in the Holy Koran."

In his foreword to "The Right to Asylum between Islamic Shari'ah and International Refugee Law: A Comparative Study," Guterres says the new book shows that more than any other historical source, Islamic law and tradition underpin the modern legal framework upon which UNHCR bases its global activities on behalf of tens of millions of uprooted people. This includes the right of everyone to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution as well as prohibitions against sending those in need of protection back into danger.

"Even though many of those values were a part of Arab tradition and culture even before Islam, this fact is not always acknowledged today, even in the Arab world," Guterres writes. "The international community should value this 14-century-old tradition of generosity and hospitality and recognize its contributions to modern law."

In his study, Professor Abu Al-Wafa describes how Islam and Arab tradition respect refugees, including non-Muslims; forbids forcing them to change their beliefs; avoids compromising their rights; seeks to reunite families; and guarantees the protection of their lives and property.

"Today, the majority of refugees worldwide are Muslims," Guterres writes. "This fact occurs at a time when the level of extremism – ethnic and religious – is on the rise around the globe, even in the world's most developed societies. Racism, xenophobia and populist fear-mongering manipulate public opinion and confuse refugees with illegal migrants and even terrorists.
 
"These attitudes have also contributed to misperceptions about Islam, and Muslim refugees have paid a heavy price. Let us be clear: refugees are not terrorists. They are first and foremost the victims of terrorism. This book reminds us of our duty to counter such attitudes."

The book also reflects UNHCR's close association with the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which itself adopted in 1990 a Declaration on Human Rights in Islam stipulating that every human being fleeing persecution has the right to seek asylum and receive protection in another country.

In his foreword to the book, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu notes that the book "demonstrates the equitable and tolerant rules Islamic Shari'ah applies to refugees and how it is keenly concerned with their welfare and interests, while confirming human integrity and man's right to a free, decent life."

Naif Arab University's Prof. al-Ghamedi, said the theme of the study "gains importance in the light of the increase in recent years in the numbers of refugees in Arab and Islamic countries."

Professor Ahmad At-Tayyib, rector of al-Azhar University in Cairo, noted that the Arab concept of asylum, or "ijarah," pre-dated Islam and was endorsed by Islamic Shari'ah "because it was one of the established good practices in their traditions and customs, involving noble manners and ethical values such as rescue of people in distress and protection of the oppressed."

Guterres also presented the book to Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah, president of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority.

"We believe this book can make an important contribution in fighting prejudice and distortions about Islam," the High Commissioner told the prince. "It can help to show the true face of Islam."

'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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« Reply #1 on: Jun 26, 2009 07:55 PM »

That's interesting.

Will you be publishing your paper? My dad worked for UNHCR for almost 25 years. I would love to read your paper.
salaampeaceshalom
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« Reply #2 on: Jun 27, 2009 07:51 AM »

Assalaamu alaikum,

I'm actually working for a particular organisation and I'm writing this for them.  My supervisor however works for the Medical Foundation who are thinking of setting up a service for young refugees in the city hubby and myself are now living in, and so I'm also partly now writing it for her too, so there are no plans at mo to get it published (tho it would be good to if it's good enough insha'Allaah).  I've only ever worked with adult refugees but the paper is looking at psychological interventions for refugee children, or rather, the lack thereof.  So it's more of a review which is also stressing how we need to find emipircal evidence for some of the treatments and as psychologists this should be one of our main roles.

I've pretty much got a draft done but I need to get feedback on it etc.  I don't mind letting you having a read insha'Allaah once it's all completed.  So if I forget, ask me around September insha'Allaah and I can send you a copy :-). 

wasalaam

'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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