Post 12 : The end or a new beginning?

WEEK FOURTEEN                  Post #12             

  1. a) What are the four levels of integration of Muslims in the Scandinavian countries discussed by the authors?

The four levels of integration discussed by the authors:

–       General integration:  It would be if Muslims would be totally assimilated and integrated in the normal life in Scandinavian countries. It would mean that even if they wish to stay close to their community, they would still have access to education, to jobs for men and women (a law for women to be able to wear headscarf maybe?) and to fully feel at home and wanted. However, in Scandinavian countries like in many countries, many Muslims are put aside and are not fully integrated and it is hard for them to get a house or a job.

–       Political: not a lot of Muslims are present in the political system which may make it hard for them to be heard and therefore be represented. We have seen that a good step toward integration is to be part also of the political life.

–       Religious rituals: They are not permitted according to the Scandinavian countries law.

–       Ideological: It is good since the Muslims in Sweden especially are willing to promote a Euro-Islam to be able to be more integrated. Both sides Muslims and non-Muslims want to live together which is good for multiculturalism.

  1. b) Why is there not a greater impact of Islam in modern-day Spanish society given the history of Islam in Spain? Discuss different degrees of Muslim integration within the Spanish society.

There is less Muslims in Spain than there is in other European countries such as France and Germany, however as the book says and they have been present since a while. Since there isn’t a lot of Muslims, their influence is lessened.  A reason why there isn’t a lot of Muslims may be explained by the fact that Spain doesn’t have any colonies in countries where the majority of the population is Muslims. Today, there are mainly two types of Muslims living in Spain:

–       Spanish who converted to Islam and naturalized Muslims

–       Immigrants who moved to Spain. However, they are less integrated since they are not very integrated into the Spanish everyday life (like in many European countries).

  1. c) Concluding remarks and thoughts – what stands out? What is your take on the remarks?

To conclude this chapter and semester, we can say that the process of integration in European countries is almost the same everywhere. We can find two types of countries, the ones that are willing to work on integrating the Muslims to assimilate them like France or Germany but are failing in doing so because of laws that are too specific or restrictive. And there are countries that accepts the Muslims but don’t do anything to integrate them at all which creates a real divide between minorities. Now, one of the challenge of our century is to find a way, without war to all live together. To grant freedom to all and to accept each other differences.

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Post 11 : Immigration rhyme with Integration

WEEK THIRTEEN          Post #11

 

A girl holds a placard during a protest called "Not in my name" of Italian muslims against terrorism, in downtown Milan

  1. How does the Muslim immigrant population in Italy differ from that in other European countries? What factors have contributed to the lack of an “intesa” with the Islamic community in Italy?

 

The Muslim immigrant population in Italy differs from that in other European countries for the reason they came. Indeed, many came to France or Germany to rebuild the countries after World War II. They mostly came as temporary workers but then instead of going back to their home country they stayed in the country where they worked, got the citizenship and then build families. Now, France and Germany have three or four generations of Muslim immigrants who came after the war. However, the Muslims came to Italy to work or get an education.

 

Also, every religion in Italy can have an “Intesa” in order to be recognized. However, there are some barriers which keeps Italian to be fully integrated. Indeed, the language, their culture and the fact that many Muslims don’t have the Italian citizenship.  So, as far as Italian authorities are concerned, Islam doesn’t exist. This means that mosques cannot receive public funds, Islamic weddings have no legal value and Muslim workers aren’t entitled to take days off for religious holidays.

  1. Jamali reading: Why does the U.S. not have a “Muslim problem” when comparing to Europe? How does the Muslim population in the U.S. differ from that in Europe? What biases might this author have? What has changed since the article was published?

 

According to the reading, the U.S doesn’t have a Muslim problem, mainly thanks to the integration of the Muslim population there. According to the Pew Research Center there are 3.3 million (or 1% of the population) Muslims living in the US which represents a smaller percentage than in the European countries. When people integrate and assimilate to their new country people see them less as different or as a group that doesn’t want to blend in. What helps to be assimilated is also education, as written in the paper the Muslims there are very well educated and then get better jobs opportunities which make them happier to live there whereas in Europe immigrants are coming and even though they have access to education, they do not have access to the high position in companies so their position doesn’t evolve.

In the US, they can probably feel Muslim and American both at the same time and be proud of it. There is a real sense of patriotism for Muslim American that doesn’t really exist in Europe (display of flags) which make them more accepted than in Europe.

 

The author might be biased because he is speaking about his own family and he then doesn’t have many examples. Each family might have different experiences which can be good or bad.

Also, I think it is important to note that the US is a new country, that most of the people who came were from Europe and created a melting pot of people, who ended up being American + another nationality. First, these people came because the US offered a freedom of religion. Whereas in Europe, countries have more history and each of them have their own nationality, culture and language so it is hard to compare both of them only based on the integration.

What might have changed since the publication of the article is the political mood. More terrorist attack happened people are starting to be scared about Muslim population and the new President is contributing to these false ideas that we must stop immigration coming from Muslims countries (some of them), so people might become more racist toward the Muslim population.

 

 

 

Post 10 : Opposition on rules

Following the previous posts on the Islam religion, we will try to get today a bigger insight of this religion.

  1. Describe the historic foundation of the current fundamentalist “jihadi” movement.

Let me start by giving a definition of “jihadi”. Jihadism describe the Islamist militant movements which is perceived as a military movement “rooted in Islam” and “existentially threatening” to the West. Today, we write about the jihadism to refer to terrorist movements whose ideology is based on the notion of jihad. This movement started in the 20th century. It rose because they want to expand Islam and reach the realization of Islamic ideals. It is a constant struggle between the governments that do not work according to the Sharia and the Muslim who want everyone to follow it. The challenge is to learn how to live together and how the Muslim ideals can get along with the governments of today.

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  1. What is sharia law? What are the main concerns of puritan fundamentalists when it comes to Islamic law?

Sharia law is the law of Islam. The Sharia law was written  from the actions and words of Muhammad, which are called “Sunnah,” and the Quran, which he dictated. As a legal system, Sharia law is very wide. While other legal codes regulate public behavior, Sharia law regulates public behavior, private behavior and even private beliefs. Of all legal systems in the world today, Sharia law is the most intrusive and restrictive, especially against women. It is seen as a bad influence and law in most countries. Moreover, the Sharia dictates all human actions and puts them into five categories: obligatory, recommended, permitted, disliked or forbidden. (http://www.billionbibles.org)

“Obligatory actions must be performed and when performed with good intentions are rewarded. The opposite is forbidden action. Recommended action is that which should be done and the opposite is disliked action. Permitted action is that which is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Most human actions fall in this last category.” (BBC.com)

The Sharia dictates rules of conduct for women and men.

I think the main concerns of puritan fundamentalists is how the Quran should be interpreted to be seen as a “true Muslim”. Indeed, some think that if you don’t follow correctly the Islamic Law then one cannot be considered as a Muslim. When others fundamentalist think that Islam should have its own country, some people argue as it is written in the Quran that Muslim can leave anywhere they want since their nationality doesn’t really matter.

 

2. Do you think Islamic law has always been consumed with “punishment?” What changed?

I think Islamic Law has not always been consumed with punishment. Mohammed said that it is not right to punish since not everyone is equal and therefore some people may do bad things in order to eat or drink. According to Mohammed, if the society one live in is equal and everyone has the same access to things then it would be acceptable to be punished.

3. What is “Islamic Feminism”? How is it different from “Western” or “Secular” feminism? Has “Islamic Feminism” been a useful tool for addressing gender inequalities within Islamic societies and communities abroad?

I have never heard about “Islamic Feminism” so after reading what Margot Badran wrote in From Islamic Feminism to a Muslim Holistic Feminism, apparently there are not many differences between Islamic Feminism and the “normal” Feminism, the latter can be called “Secular Feminism”. Both aim to have equal and better right for women compared to those of men. But before 1980, Islamic Feminism didn’t exist.

And  i think it was useful in the way that if more people talk about it, they can reflect on it and then maybe change their views.

Indeed, some women started to read the Qur’an but this time to find and prove that the discrimination made against them in their society wasn’t right and fair.

We can conclude, that both forms of feminism have the same goal : equality of gender.

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Post 9 : Refugees or Immigrants

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1. What is your assessment of the Foreign Affairs The Dispossessed article and the film? Does the comic do justice to the refugee situation? Is it a good analysis of the crisis? Does Islam play a role? Even if you only watched a part of the film My Escape what is your assessment of the film? What caught your attention?

Our century is facing drastic challenges all around the world. One of the biggest being the refugees that are coming by thousands to different countries. They don’t only come in hope for a better life but in hope from freedom and safety which are basic human rights. And we know that they did so at the risk of their lives many losing members of their family in the sea. I liked the Foreign Affair article, The Dispossessed because it shows the troubles refugees have when they flee away from their home. The authors portray the refugee’s stories as a comic while they follow families that are looking for asylum through the mean of any way of travel. This article is interesting also because it happening right now as I’m writing these words and a lot of papers are written about the social and political issues. By showing the journey of these family it brings us closer to them emotionally I think. The authors connected with the readers and made the families relatable. This article really helps the reader better understand the refugee crisis, in my opinion.

I would say that Islam play a role in the way that it gives people hope. They believe that God is good and that He’s going to help them through this obstacle.

I watched a few minutes of the movie. What struck me the most is how people are telling their journey so bravely. They tell their story like we would tell ours. It is unthinkable what they are going through and yet they still go on with their life and try their best to reach their main goal which is a better life. The little boy we see at the beginning of the video is so young and he has worries about the police coming to arrest them at such a young age that no children should have. But yet, again, this is their reality. I like those kind of documentary because it shows people, remind them that it could be us if we had been unlucky and were born at the wrong place at the wrong moment. They should show this documentary more often on national television of every country. Immigrants and refugees are two different words I think.

         2. Based on the article, Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation, discuss the story of intercultural confrontation and intercultural compatibility and how they affect conflict transformation. Do you agree with that type of conflict management?

In the article, Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation, the authors discuss of intercultural confrontation and intercultural compatibility and how they affect conflict transformation. They affect conflict transformation because it raises questions on how to handle the big numbers of refugees coming. Indeed, it is good that they are able to flee their home but the challenge for the host country is to know how to integrate and assimilate with them in order for the immigration to be successful for both sides. However, this refugee’s crisis has led to negative thoughts and stereotype that creates a gap between the population and the refugees. I would say that people in the developed countries see them as less worth that them as inferior. And they forget sometimes that the refugees are people just like us no matter where they come from or they faith. I have to admit that I found myself thinking unconsciously sometimes. Then, I remember that there is no men better than another.

The media is portraying Islamic culture in a certain way that push many Muslims from the rest of the world and only focuses on differences between the western world and the Islamic culture. By viewing these groups in such negative ways and not accepting assimilation definitely has its pros and cons. Many regions in the world are afraid of losing their identity and cultures, therefore they think they should not accept refugees and immigrants since they think the refugees won’t integrate but instead be their own people in the host country. However, when we think more deeply about it these refugees and immigrants are people just like anyone else who are looking for freedom and safety.

Every country need to work on how to integrate and accept differences in order to become one “melting pot” like the United States is. Or used to be at least.

 

Post 8 : Islam in France

 It is really interesting for me to give a “non-bias” point of view on this subject since I’m a French born citizen. My mother’s family is Muslim and my father’s family is Catholic. I personally consider myself as Atheist and I wasn’t raised in any religion even though I went to a catholic religious class when I was little. Because I took my Dad’s last name which is Italian, most people have no idea that I’m 50% Algerian when they look at me.

When I refer in this post as “we” it will be me and the French people since I consider myself French.

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  1. How do Zemni and Parker explain the “failure of integration” of Muslims in Europe? Why is the way Europeans think about integration and multiculturalism problematic in the discourse surrounding Islam and Muslims in Europe? Explain and give examples.

We can talk about a failure of integration in Europe because Muslim people did not assimilate the values and way of living of their host countries, over the years. They count as a community inside the country instead of being fully integrated and referred to as French. However, Hunter wrote that half of the immigrants from Algeria have the French nationality. Sami Zemni and Christopher Parker explain the “failure of integration” of Muslims in Europe in chapter 13 of their book, Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Zemni and Parkers implies that people usually point negative facts or actions from the Muslim communities and don’t talk enough about the positive actions and facts happening between Muslim people and people of other faiths or nationality. By pointing only, the negative aspects, people have then a bad image of Muslims people and therefore categorize them as bad. People then put every Muslim in the same “bag” whether they do bad or good things for the country. Like I wrote in my previous post, Muslims are perceived as “others”, they are seen as different people with different life views, cultural norms, religious outlooks, etc. All these reasons gave the negative connotation that Muslims cannot and should not be accepted into European society.

  1. How is the Islamic gender system different from that of the French? Why does the Islamic headscarf pose a challenge to the French republic’s ideal of “abstract individualism” and “laïcité”?  What are your own thoughts on this debate and controversy?

The Islamic gender system is different from the French one for many reasons. First, France, like many European countries puts emphasis on equality between genders. The French believe that men and women should be treated equally not only in social situations but also in the work world and in everyday life. The Islamic gender system is different since the Sharia is the Islamic law and we know that a woman is worth half a man according to the Qur’an. Women do not have the same rights and liberties as a man. It might seem unbelievable for people living in developed countries but this is the reality of their culture, religion and society. However, I can say that in France more and more Muslims people do not think this way regarding the status of the woman and they do respect them equally. More Muslims women go the university and try to find a job before getting married and having children. However, if they are wearing the headscarf they have a big chance of not getting employed for a good job.

A big issue in France is the Islamic headscarf and the challenge for the goal of “laïcité”. “Laïcité”, refers to French secularity, like I said in my previous post again which is the absence of religious involvement in government affairs, especially the prohibition of religious influence in the determination of state polices. Also, we cannot show/wear any signs of religion on us.

There is in France a very strong separation between church and state. We believe in a secular nation where religion cannot threaten schooling or government. For example, it is forbidden for a teacher to tell his students what is his religion. The teachers also can’t give their preferences. That is why coming to the US, I was surprised when my teacher openly said he was Christian. The “laïcité” and the Hijab concepts kind of contradict how we see the Islamic headscarf as a threat. The French see it as old-fashioned and repressive, but for the Muslims, it is their way of life and has been in them for thousands of years. The French claim to see the use of a headscarf as an attack on women’s rights when in fact it is just a part of the Islamic religion and in most cases the women wearing the headscarf chose to do so on their own. However, it is a problem in my country because it’s a physical reminder of the Islamic religion and separates individuals by religion in public which is forbidden in our law.

 My opinion is complicated. I do think that people should be able to wear what they want whether it is a short or a headscarf. I live in a city where I have seen the difference in numbers of girls wearing the headscarf over the years. It used to be one or two woman but now most of them wear it even though they were born in France and went to school in France. I just wonder why they would want to wear it. I do think there are other ways to “protect” themselves and their body without wearing one. It creates a real separation between them and the other girls, even though I think it is not a good reason to be put aside because of what someone is wearing. My last thought would be that if a woman follows the religion to the letter and do everything that is written in the Qur’an (not eat pork, not swear, pray 5 times a day, do not look a man in the eye, only do good…) then she should wear it. It is my personal opinion only. I know that for every religion, some people say they are religious but their behavior contradicts their belief.

             I would never discriminate or judge someone wearing the headscarf. But I have to say it might be because my grandmother wears it and for me she’s a person and it doesn’t matter what she does and wear. I do not agree with it but I accept it just the way she accepts the way that I wear shorts and won’t wait for marriage to live with my boyfriend. I feel lucky that I know both sides of the story and not only what the media are portraying on Muslims people in the news.

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Picture : Google : “Law against the headscarf or against Islam?”

Post 7 : Islam in Europe

 

Since the start of the 21st century, it has become clear that a widespread fear of Islam has developed throughout the Western world. Because of events like the attacks on 9/11, 7/14/2016 (Nice, France), the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the belief that Islam is a fundamentally violent religion that promotes an uncivilized ideology has grown immensely popular.

Muslims are often discriminated against in European countries due to drastic differences between their cultures. From language to religion to politics, day-to-day lives of Muslims living in predominately Muslim countries are extremely different from Western norms. This causes problems both in how Westerners perceive Muslims into Europe and how Muslims respond to this reception when it is not ideal.

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Picture : Wikipédia : Islam in Europe

A few myths that Justin Vaisse is talking about in “Muslims in Europe: A Short Introduction.” are:

  • “Being Muslim constitutes a fixed identify, sufficient to fully characterize a person”. What I understand from this myth, is that most people categorize Muslim people as a person. They don’t see Muslim as American, German or French but they consider Muslim people as Muslim as a race instead of a religion.
  • “Muslims in Europe are inherently foreign, the equivalent of visiting Middle-Easterners who are alien to the “native” culture.” Meaning that people, do see themselves as French Muslim or German Muslims. A French person practicing the religion of Islam, is exactly like a French person practicing Catholicism.
  • “Muslims are demographically gaining on the “native” population.” The difference being that the birth rate in France or Ireland is like the one in the US (1.9 children per woman) whereas the birth rate for immigrants is usually higher. However, according to Justin Vaisse it is doubtful that the percentage of Muslims in European countries will be higher than 6% in the future.

It is important to make a difference between the political religion and religious dimensions. Indeed, in Saudi Arabia the Quran is considered as the law, and they believe in the Sharia that is the country’s constitution. Whereas the religious dimension of Islam is the religion that a person chooses to practice in a country that has a government separated from a religious book, for example.

Muslim communities are facing many challenges in Europe especially regarding integration. Indeed, as I have said before most people categorize Muslims as a group or even as a race which means that they don’t think that Muslims people can agree with their government all the while following the Quran and its rules.

Also, there are a lot of newspapers that have written on the burqa in France. Indeed, the French government implemented secularism (often referred to as Laïcité), which has been in practice since the French Revolution of 1789, throughout all French territory. It entails, that no signs of religious beliefs should be shown in schools or publics places. However, people think that everyone should be able to wear whatever they want. I think, that the burqa in France is dividing people because it is seen as a rebellion from Muslim people and not as a religious choice from women.

            Ramadan is encouraging Muslim families to remain positive in the face of cultural adversity, and to focus particularly on collaborating and building relationships with other people of different faiths in order to maybe be more integrated in the society.

 

Post 6 : The conclusion on foreign aid

The political debate on foreign aid

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After reading chapter 10 of the book, I have a shared opinion.

Sachs and Easterly have two different opinions on the foreign aid debate. Jeffrey Sachs said in an article for foreignpolicy.com: “development aid, when properly designed and delivered, works, saving the lives of the poor and helping to promote economic growth “. On the other end William Easterly says that gives an example which shows that countries do not need foreign aid “there have been plenty more examples of poor countries which grew rapidly without much aid — China and India (who each receive around half a percent of income in foreign aid) being the most famous recent examples. Meanwhile, aid amounted to 14% of total income year in and year out in the average African country since independence.”

I’m thankful for their opinions that since everything can’t always be black or white. At least, everyone can make up their own mind after reading the authors ideas and thoughts.

As for me, it is hard to give an informed opinion, when we don’t see what really happens, when we’re not “on the field”. However, I would take the side of Jeffrey Sachs since I think, poor countries do need help. Sachs believes corruption is a poverty trap, each one being a cause for the other. It’s a never ending cycle unless something can be done to stop it.

 In the best of the world even, there would also no corruption since we’ve read that out of the money given for schools, only 13% reached them. 13%. Indeed, Over the last sixty years, developed nations have sent approximately $1 trillion in development related aid to Africa and still over 50% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day so I understand that after reading those numbers it can discouraged the people who want to help. Especially when they give money that will go into some official’s pockets.

However, for the people who are optimist there is hope as we’ve seen with the Millennium Project who have helped countries like Tanzania, where road, water, and sanitation projects have helped 5 million people, with an estimated economic gain of well over $1 billion. It would have never happened without foreign aid. However, I have written in previous posts that the money should be a “help” and not a mean that is taken for granted. This money should lead to actual developments that have to be within the developing countries thanks to the work of the people there.


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I think that in a way Banerjee and Duflo address these issues sufficiently because they know what they are talking about. They’ve talked to the people in the poor countries of Africa and a they try to do their best to explain the state of the countries. They also give example of things that works and explain to us what there is a lack of access to nutritional food (i.e we have seen that a person could eat only eggs and banana and just with that they would have eat enough calories.) However, the subject is large and even though we know what richer countries could do to help the poorest ones, the means to put it into actions are harder because of many obstacles (officials, corruption…).

 One of the reasons people cannot bring themselves out of poverty is that they can’t afford food to be able to work well, Banerjee and Duflo argue that the argument made by Jeffrey Sachs of a “poverty trap” is not valid anymore. The policy measures that seem to work are explained in Poor Economics where it says why lack of nutrition is more of a cause and that there is a need to change the food aid policies that are currently in place in underdeveloped countries. Nutrition plays a large role in people’s economic situations. A study found that when poor people have extra income, they don’t use it to buy larger quantities but rather higher quality food. I would argue that goals #1 and #2 are linked because if people don’t have money they can’t afford food and therefore work well (have the energy to do so) and they can’t eat healthy food if they don’t have the money. It is my personal opinion of course.

            To answer the last question, I would say that some issues addressed and many global issues are taken. Thanks to Sachs and even Easterly, I am optimistic for the situation of the poor countries in Africa in a way that I wasn’t before. Even though they have different views on how to solve poverty, we know more on how to solve poverty than before. They showed the world what needed to be done, why and even how to do so. Finally, even though the Millennium Projects are limited, they can be beneficial and proved to be a big help.

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Post 5 : Micro Angolan credit

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I would like to start by giving a definition of what is a micro credit. According to the business dictionary, a micro credit is: “A small financial loan made to poverty-stricken individuals seeking to start their own business. This type of loan typically does not exceed a couple hundred dollars, so an impoverished individual cannot solely depend on this type of loan to fund their business.”

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According to Banerjee and Duflo, the basic argument in favor of micro credit is that if the money is used well, it can help the improve

ment of the living situations of families, especially when they open a business or when farmers wish to buy fertilizer in order to harvest well the next year, for example. It is a good way to get out of poverty and to become more financially independent as well. However, to every good effects, there are also bad effects. And some institutions take advantage of the poor people. Especially those who do not use the money well once they got a loan. In this case, it may make things worse for some people if they borrow money and can’t reimbursed on time.

However, this situation is not only found in the countries of Africa but it can also be found in the US, for example: When a person is borrowing money, but can’t pay back on time, the interest rate and the fees are increasing which might make the situation worse. In the end, people who borrowed that money may end up more poor that they already were. It is a very unfortunate circle to be part of.

 Picture  : Banerjee and Duflo – property of Google Image

ANGOLA CASE:

            At the moment there are 19 commercial banks operating in Angola and focusing their business of retail and corporate banking. A few commercial banks, however, do have specific microfinance offerings.

There are two sides: It is hard for poor people to get credit however they need one to be able to build a business or even to buy a small property. I have found on the website of the UN Refugee Agency, an interview made by a man from Angola who said that “My $140 loan has financed a modest business in which me and my wife sell phone cards for mobiles. The micro-credit helped me to change a bit my financial situation. I can now buy bread on a daily basis, which was not possible before.” This man is very lucky and it is proof that micro credit can have a positive impact.

In Angola, a nonprofit called Development Workshop created a micro-finance program as a post-war economic strategy to help individuals create small businesses with the goal to reduce poverty. Using KixiCredito an institution providing micro credit, DW has been able to support over 13,000 clients.  KixiCredito offers small loans to poor individuals. In Angola’s informal economy, this has allowed individuals to set up businesses selling fish, baked goods… As of 2015, KixiCredito has injected 400 million USD into Angola’s national economy.

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Picture : Link

According to the book in Poor Economics, there are none significant numbers to prove that lives had been improved. Rises in income sometimes went from 5% to 7%, but this was not seen as a fantastical improvement.

As for digital technology, Angola is limited. It is important the poor countries progress to become up to date when it comes to technology, since it today an important part of our world.  Angola should develop in other industries such as agriculture and energy, which are currently areas of struggle. Right now, its main source of revenue is oil. Angola is a country which is facing a lot of obstacles and I understand that it must be hard to know what are the priorities.

 

Post 4 : In the name of Angola

The presentation of a cheetah in Angola, Africa

Following the research last week on cheetahs, we have to look today more thoroughly on the work of one in our assigned country. I searched for the prominent Angolan journalist and the first name that appeared was Rafael Rafael Marques de MoraisMarques. Journalists are the ones that have a louder voice in the world since they are the ones that search the news, write about them to make them known to the public so I think it is important that the country has a specialist journalist.

Rafael Marques was born in 1971 in Angola. More than a journalist, he’s also a human rights activist who received several international awards for his research on the conflict of Diamonds as well as government corruption.

However, activists are facing a lot of risks when they defend the rights of humans especially when the country is not very open to changes and improvements. It is also the case for Marques since he was facing libel for exposing the horrors of the country’s diamond trade.

Also, he received a few threats such as this one :  “During a January 19, 2000 parliamentary debate on press freedom, for example, Mendes de Carvalho, a legislator from Your Excellency’s political party, stated that if Marques, 28, continued to criticize Your Excellency, he would not live to the age of 40.” (source : https://cpj.org/2000/03/angola-outspoken-journalist-will-be-tried.php )

It takes a lot of courage to defend what is right in a country where people are trying to stop you in the name of money and power that is why, I think,  Rafael Marques is a good example of a cheetah.

Picture : Rafael Marques – Google Images

Bigger insight on the freedom of Angola. Or the absence of it

 

According to Radelet, democracy is not only the free election where people can choose who they want to lead their country. Indeed, there are others facts such as “the protection of basic civil liberties and human rights, the establishment of public institutions” that are held accountable by citizens and help limit the power of their leaders (like countries of the first world) and finally the recognition of rights of freedom of expression, assembly and press.

Right now, Angola is ranked 5/16 but the Freedom House for the freedom of expression and belief. The state owns Angola’s only daily newspaper, all national radio stations and all but one national television station. There is no freedom of speech and people trying to fight for it are risking their lives (i.e Marques).

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To answer the question : Yes, YALI is active in Angola which is a very good thing since The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)  was created by  the United States Department of State. It started in 2010 by President Barack Obama. YALI is a program which want to educate and network young African leaders with activities including a fellowship to study in the United States for six weeks, follow-up resources, and student exchange programs. This program gives opportunities to the youth to learn more.

 

Last part

Let’s answer a question that has a wide subject. What are major obstacles in raising developing countries out of poverty.

 

Some of the obstacles can be:

  • Too much foreign aid. Since we saw it is important for countries to give some money, however too much aid can also lead to little businesses being forced to close because it is ruining their economic system.
  • The education preventing people to move the country forward and having better life; difficult access to health and natural resources. Problems regarding crime, danger and diseases.

And a lot more….

 

POST 3 : from witches to cheetahs

PART I

On the blogpost of this week we have a lot to cover. I’ll start by explaining the meaning of “Cheetah” and a “Big Man”.

            First, according to George Ayittey, a Ghanaian economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC, the cheetah generation can be described as a “new generation of young Africans who look at African issues and problems from a totally unique perspective”. Their main difference is that their way of thayitteyinking differs from the “hippo generation” which is seen as people who are stuck in the past and therefore still think about colonialism and imperialism. The cheetah generation is more focused on transparency, accountability, good governance, respect for basic human rights and so on. They really emphasize the fact that they want to move the continent forward. Also, in the seventh chapter of Emerging Africa – How 17 Countries are Leading the Way, Radelet writes that cheetahs are not “defined by gender, age, location of education” giving a chance to many people to be part of it.

                                                                                     Picture : George Ayittey

We usually see the cheetahs in the emerging countries.  Why? Since they want to be hired in good positions or even want to create their own businesses. It’s a hopeful and very motivated generation.

Now, let’s speak about the meaning of a “Big Man”. In the mid-1980s, almost every sub-Saharan African country was ruled by a dictator. People were often too busy working or trying to survive that they didn’t think or had the means to fight for their rights and a democracy. Radelet added that “few countries met standards for democracies in terms of protecting fundamental political freedoms and civil liberties, or in establishing key institutions such as free and fair elections, representative government and checks on executive power”. The “big man” is the person who doesn’t care about his people and their well-being. He cares more about his own power and fortune.

            Finally, both these terms refer to a different way of looking at democracy and civil society. Indeed, the cheetahs are educated enough to know that democracy is the right things and instead of relying on foreign aid or the government they are the ones trying to create the progress for the countries in Africa. On the other side the hippo generation are still “stuck in the past” which prevent them to evolve and do things to improve the standard livings of Africans.

PART II

             Nutrition is the biggest problem of poverty. Today, 9 billion persons die before their fifth birthday because of hunger according to the book Poor Economics from Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. The most important thing needed to grow and live is food that is why countries try their best to provide their people some food at an affordable price. In India for example, everyone is given 55 pounds of rice a month at a very cheap price. Also, in the Philippines people could eat 2400 calories per day for only 21 cents if they agreed to eat only eggs and bananas. But who could live only eating theses aliments every day?

             We need to rethink food policy to know how much to give to whom and how since a lot of the food given is often lost on the way. This is a big problem where two sides usually oppose – the one where we should give people an amount of food every week and the one where each people has to try to get its own food.

             We can also think of a nutrition as a trap in poverty as we can read Poor Economics from Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. They write the story of a man who didn’t have a job because he didn’t have the skill to do a particular job and he couldn’t work in construction either since he was too weak to buy food and therefore be strong enough to work. He was 40 years old and desperate.

            Another very sad part that I didn’t know about before reading the book is the witch hunting phenomenon. It started in Europe during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. Indeed, when times were very hard and the access to food and water too difficult people started to kill “witches”. The witches were often single women, widows, and grandmothers. So when food was scarce family “discovered” that a member of their family was a witch and it would lead this member to be chased of killed by others in the villages. It would prevent families to feed another mouth that couldn’t work and contribute to the family.

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Picture from : http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/saving-africas-witch-children

PART III

Country exploration : Angola

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Angola which is officially named the Republic of Angola is a country in Southern Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa and is bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north. The official language is the Portuguese and there is a population of 25 million people.

As of today, and according to the date of United Nations Development Program the life expectancy is of 52 years old and almost 71% of the population is literate. They have, nowadays, a 3.1% population growth. Today the Human Development Indicators for Angola is 0.532 and it is ranking number 149.

We can find more information on this link :  http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/AGO

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