I have a unique perspective as an "Anglo" (White, non-Hispanic) American citizen. I had been chair of a nonprofit (American NGO) organization for three years whose main mission was to bring refugees still lingering from Reagan's dirty wars in Centra
I am, also, a Christian as the editorial writer. I actively serve in my Episcopal (Anglican) Diocese as a laymen on two committees plus a parish committee -- all related to human rights in one way or the other. As a South Asian expert, I have been trying to spread information on the plight of Christians as oppressed minorities in India & Pakistan. Something that is not well known in my country.
Back to the editorial, I have been tracking the round up through the media in South Asia, Europe & the States & passing the information to the alternative & ethnic media & those orgs who can get involved. The nearest I can compare this to historically is the American internment of the Nisi [second generation Japanese(-Americans)] during World War II which my government has since apologized & has paid token reparations to the survivors.
Although the group I was involved has not represented Pakistanis in the past, we might in the further due to the way this crisis is progressing. Therefore, I have been sending all my research onto the chief administrator there. Even though we represent poor clients, & South Asian have traditionally entered American society at the upper middle class, a poorer immigration from the Subcontinent has been coming to my shores despite the statements of the editorialist. Amongst whom are the Khalistani refugees, rural Pakistanis brought in by specialist (Halal) farmers, & those poorer Pakistanis & Sikhs who end up running cheap, small convenience markets or gas stations. An interesting antidote I meet a group of Pakistani farm labors from California's Central Valley who did not speak English or even Urdu -- they were monolingual in Punjabi. As a sign of my point, South A sians have gone from the richest identifiable minority as a group to the second highest in the last several years. What is the factor is a poorer migration that began in the 1980's.
What I have to say is that my government's despicable policy is directed toward Islamic countries -- most having no connection with the Al'Quaeda threat. Citizens in various visa & immigration circumstances here legally show up, & are thrown in jail often under unacceptable conditions for obeying the law! Therefore, I read reports in the Pakistani press that a high number are hiding, & over 2,000 (!) have fled over the Canadian border to request asylum. Yes, I can agree with the editorial writer that registration is not outrageous, but the manner it has been conducted is. Due process under American civil & human rights must be adhered to.
Since this is a Christian Pakistani publication, I would like to point out that in the sweep here are Christians & Jews. The Christians have come out of these countries often to escape persecution, & a better life for their families. A high percentage of Iranians in the States are Jews. They escaped Iran before they would be hung which the revolutionary government did to many of that community during the early years of their government out of fear they were or could become an Israeli secret column. I might add that Iraq had done the same thing to their Jewish community previously.
The point should be, from the perspective of the editorialist (Mr. Bhatti?), many of his own community are being persecuted a second time. First, as being a minority in their own natal land(s), and, second, as being targeted by their adopted land for their ethnicity. This is most poignant for me because of my being a practicing Christian, but because of my Christianity (& being an American), the plight of Muslims & Jews are no less poignant to me.
This is a dark day for my native land! A little while ago Ishtiaq announced an initiative to have a day to look at the growing fascism in South Asia. I am sorry to say we should do the same sort of introspection in the "Metropole."
Geoffrey Cook, Chair (emeritus)
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant