October 24, 2017

Orienting Muslim Immigrants to Western Values

Solidarity march with immigrants & refugeesWhen you start a new job, it is fairly common to receive some sort of orientation and/or training. Even if you have an impressive resume and considerable work experience, you have not worked at this particular company, agency, etc. Thus, they cannot assume that you know how everything works there. How could you? The orientation/training is designed to acclimate you to the employer's culture, make sure you know what you need to know to do what they want you to do, and prevent the sort of problems that might result from you lacking information about their policies and procedures.

When I see stories like this one out of Canada, I can't help thinking that we need something similar for immigrants from Muslim countries. I realize that the man described here may well have been using his ignorance of Canadian law as an excuse. But let's consider the possibility that someone growing up in Iran might not have known that Canada really frowns on wife-beating. I don't know about you, but that possibility does not strike me as being particularly far-fetched. Was he provided with this sort of information when he immigrated? If not, could he have been?

I don't think there are any easy answers here. It seems to me that people from Muslim nations who are immigrating to Western democracies might have some real difficulty acclimating to what is obviously a very different culture. After all, I think I'd have an extremely difficult time figuring things out if I were to immigrate to a Muslim country.

Given the nature of the differences between the values of many Muslim countries and those of most Western democracies, it seems important to make sure that Muslim immigrants are informed about some of the more important differences. Perhaps the best example of this involves the treatment people who tend to be mistreated in their home countries (e.g., women, LGBT persons, ex-Muslims). Maybe this should be part of a cultural orientation of some sort.

Undoubtedly, there would still be cases where an immigrant disregards such an orientation and behaves like the guy in this story. In those cases, we can justifiably throw the book at them. But the hope would be that having this sort of orientation would prevent at least some of this from happening. It would have been nice to prevent this man's wife from having to endure what she did.