Monthly Archives: April 2007

Sweden Changes Immigration Policy

Sweden has been experiencing a “significant” immigration from areas like Iraq, Somalia, and the Sudan. Historically, Sweden has been generous in accepting immigrants fleeing persecution. Under new guidelines, immigrants will be gently forced to move to rural areas and away from Stockholm. Local Councils will be provided funds to reward immigrants moving to their area to receive financial support, housing and jobs. Local communities will be compelled to provide Swedish language instruction in order to integrate immigrants within Swedish society. Labor Minister Littorin has announced that beginning July 2nd, unemployed Swedes will be compelled to move to areas which have employment opportunities or face loss of unemployment benefits.

One can understand the new Swedish policy, but forcing newly arrived people to leave friends and fellow countrymen to go live in areas where they lack this support poses emotional pressures. My parents, upon arriving in America, remained with relatives and fellow countrymen in order to have a feeling of comfort and protection. This is a natural attitude of an immigrant.

Dart of the Week – 4/6/2007

To the Danish Parliament after several MPs urged adoption of a law preventing women older than 45 from having artificial insemination. It’s not the business of government to decide who should have a baby or when they should have one.

Divorce Rising in Saudi Arabia

Nearly one in four marriages in Saudi Arabia ends in divorce. Of the 105,066 marriage contracts registered in 2005, 24,000 ended in divorce. Civil rights activist, Wajiha al-Howeidar said, “It is impossible to have healthy relationships in Saudi Arabia. The laws have given men full authority while women are deprived of their rights and freedom.”

Saudi Arabia is certainly extending greater education to women, but the government refuses to acknowledge that together with education must come opportunities for personal freedom. Saudi Arabia still will not allow women to drive a car. I find it fascinating that so many women in Saudi Arabia will not tolerate being in a marriage in which their rights are denied.

Pressure in Indonesia to Prevent Dual Language Praying

The Indonesian Ulema Council has issued an edict banning dual-language praying despite a Supreme Court ruling that makes it legal. Muhammad Yusman Roy, who heads a boarding school, refused to accept the ruling and was convicted of “despoiling Islam.” Roy had argued that many worshippers did not know Arabic and wanted to understand the meaning of their prayers. His boarding school was closed.

As one raised as an Orthodox Jew who prayed in Hebrew without comprehending the meaning of what I was saying, there is great sympathy for Mr. Roy. As a boy I was fortunate to have an uncle who listened to my complaint and got me a dual language prayer book.