Refugee woman and the experiences of local integration in Nairobi, Kenya
- It seems trendy for current studies to argue that the term refugee is no more than a policy category which does not reflect the circumstances of the people that it subsumes. Such studies further argue that the circumstances of refugees are not necessarily different from those of local populations. This study argues that theoretical positions emanating from such observations do not have a universal application as illustrated in Nairobi where the term refugee is not merely a policy category or legal label but also experiential. Understanding the concept refugee is very much an outcome of empirical enterprise which locates those who bear the refugee status in specific contexts. The study draws attention to cases of targeted rape, raids, exclusionary discourses epitomised by negative stereotyping and xenophobia as well as refoulement which are specifically aimed at refugees in Nairobi. The refugee status is intertwined with other variables such as refugees´ ethnic, national and religious identities in ways that restrict inclusion of refugees into the host country. As a gendered experience, exile impacts on intra-household dynamics and transforms gender roles and relations within refugee households in ways that are simultaneously enabling and challenging for refugee women. Although local women also experience Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), for refugee women this intersects with the vulnerability that the refugee status entails resulting in refugee women being abused even by police officers and officials who are tasked to protect them thus leaving them with limited channels for recourse. SGBV thus becomes salient because of its targeted nature. Emphasised in the study is the fact that refugee women are heterogeneous such that it is more appropriate to refer to refugee women´s experiences rather than the refugee woman experience. Exile as occupation of marginal space is however not solely about constraints as it also creates opportunities and possibilities that may not have been available to the women prior to flight. Contradictory as it may seem, the refugee status is mediated by the same variables that lead to exclusion at a macro level in ways that facilitate inclusion at a micro, interpersonal level characterised by interaction between refugee women and locals as fellow congregants or as neighbours who share the same plight of poverty in Nairobi´s slums. This is coupled with refugee women´s agency by which they convert obstacles into resources and create space for themselves in a country which advocates encampment and expects refugees to reside in the designated areas. Through their own agency, refugee women are able to navigate structural barriers meant to deter integration in ways that demonstrate that the absence of an official integration policy does not necessarily deter integration; individual agency has a countervailing impact on measures instituted to deter integration.
The Re-implementation of Sharia in Northern Nigeria and the Education of Muslim Women 1999-2007
- This study investigates the impact of the re-implementation of Sharia on the education of Muslim women between 1999 and 2007, in four states in northern Nigeria namely, Zamfara, Kano, Bauchi and Kaduna. The study fills the research gap in the description of the status of women with respect to education under the Sharia dispensation re-introduced in 1999. Before this era, scholarly works have documented the state of female education in northern Nigeria; however, none deals directly with post re-implementation and its impact on Muslim women’s education. This period is particularly interesting because it coincides with the return of the country to democratic rule after a string of military rules. Using interviews with Sharia proponents, school administrators, women and reports from Sharia Commissions in these states, the work establishes that while Zamfara and Kano States underwent transformations in the educational sector as a result of the programs introduced by the Sharia governments, the changes in the educational domain in Bauchi and Kaduna were exceedingly triggered by the return of democracy in Nigeria after decades of military rule. The results arrived at in this study reveal interesting facets of the relationship between Sharia and the education of Muslim women. The research shows that proponents of Sharia used the premise (also supported by verses from the Qur’an and Prophet Mohammed’s teachings) that education is an important part of Islam to which both males and females have equal rights, to sell the Islamic-based educational programs introduced by the Sharia regime. Using religion to promote these programs, the predominantly male Sharia bodies, mitigate the often tough cultural practices and religious dogmas that have prevented women from having full access to formal, western education. However, the type of education offered to women under these Sharia programs is a hybrid of formal education and Islamic education which pays strict attention to such cultural and religious practices like the wearing of the hijab, the separation of males and females in schools, the teaching of practical, home craft skills such as knitting and baking to the women. So, instead of the education taking women out of the home domain in which they have been restricted in the past, it rather further maintains them while providing them access to formal education which they will hardly use in any public career.
The Izala Movement in Nigeria: Its Split, Relationship to Sufis and Perception of Sharīʿa Re-Implementation
Ramzi Ben Amara
- The Izala Movement in Nigeria: Its Split, Relationship to Sufis and Perception of Sharia Re-Implementation
The religious landscape of Northern Nigeria is very heterogeneous. Nevertheless two Sufi Brotherhoods, the Tijāniyya and the Qādiriyya dominated the religious field until the 1970s. This situation changed in 1978 with the appearance of Jama’atul Izalatzul Bid’a wa Ikamatis Sunna (Society for Removal of Innovation and Reestablishment of the Sunna). This reform movement was established to fight the so called bidac (in Arabic: non-Islamic innovations) on the basis of the tradition of the Prophet. The long Islam tradition in Nigeria has to be “purified” and the model of al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ (in Arabic: the pious predecessors) should be followed. This created numerous tensions between Izala and Sufi Brotherhoods.
In 1999 and during the process of transition to the Fourth Republic Nigeria, Islamic Penal Law was re-implemented by the Governor of Zamfara State Ahmad Sani Yeriman Bakuru. This step was followed by eleven northern states. This meant amongst others the introduction of ḥudūd-punishments – corporal punishments like lashing, hand amputation, or stoning to death. The re-implementation provoked a debate in and outside Nigeria. Many observers raised questions related to the constitutionality of Sharia-laws, human rights, religious freedom and to the democratic process. Opinions on this process were divided.
Almost all Islamic organizations of Nigeria stood for the re-implementation of Islamic Law. Izala was among those who supported that project. Sharia goes side by side with Izala doctrine of “islamizing the society”. Izala was ready to compromise within the Sharia context and a kind of “domestication” of the long-going Izala-Sufi struggle seems to have taken place. During the Sharia-reimplementation, no Islamic organization (except of Shiite movement) risked opposing Sharia. Islamic Law was started by a single politician within a political campaign and after him the masses pushed in eleven states to have Sharia re-implemented.
Izala claimed being behind the Sharia re-implementation. One could ask if this was a re-orientation strategy of the movement especially after the end of its conflict with Sufi. Do Izala really contributed to the re-implementation of Sharia law?
On the basis on solid fieldwork in Northern Nigeria including participant observation, interviews with Izala, Sufis, and religion experts, and collection of unpublished material related to Izala, three aspect of the development of Izala past and present are analysed: its split, its relationship to Sufis, and its perception of Sharia re-implementation. “Field theory” of Pierre Bourdieu, “Religious Market theory” of Rodney Start, and “Modes of Religiosity theory” of Harvey Whitehouse are theoretical tools of understanding the religious landscape of northern Nigeria and the dynamics of Islamic movements and groups.