Fatwa: Iraqis must not become U.S. citizens

The invaluable MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, which translates things in the Arabic-language media that we need to know, reports:

Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), recently issued a fatwa stating that an Iraqi exile may not become a U.S. citizen; the fatwa came in response to a question from a viewer during his Ramadan television special. Al-Qaradhawi explained that a Muslim must not become a citizen of a country that is occupying his homeland – and that the ruling was inspired by similar rulings issued by Muslim clerics during France’s occupation of Tunisia.

Al-Qaradhawi qualified his pronouncement by saying that it did not apply to Iraqis who had fled Iraq at the beginning of the occupation and had already taken foreign citizenship in the U.S. or Europe, but only from this day forward.  It also applied to Afghan exiles, he said.

Others  disagreed.

Al-Arabiya TV director ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote an op-ed in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat criticizing Al-Qaradhawi’s ruling. The following are excerpts from the English version of his article, as it appeared in the English edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:

“However, this fatwa has nothing to do with the reality on the ground, and contains more political absurdity then it does religious guidance. Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi himself is an Egyptian who has Qatari citizenship – given to him after he opposed the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. However, when an Israeli office was opened in Doha, Al-Qaradhawi did not renounce his Qatari nationality. This is a personal issue that does not concern us as much as we are concerned with the usage of religion, especially the weapon of the fatwa, in highly politicized cases.”


“The truth is that the fear is from the opposite side. In the U.S. there is a strong lobby opposed to the naturalization of Muslims and Arabs, for racist and political reasons. Immigration to the U.S. eventually results in citizenship, and the granting of full citizens’ rights – something not granted to Arab refugees in any Arab country, regardless of the humanitarian situation.

“Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi should ask about the Palestinian refugees who live a tough life and are treated like animals in many Arab countries. They are forbidden from working and earning a livelihood – and some are even forbidden from traveling and visiting their families.

“In the future, before speaking, Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi should ask any Arab immigrant who has been lucky enough to gain citizenship in the [country of the] infidel, in order to find out the difference between myth and reality.”

So it is unclear what effect the fatwa will have, if any. Probably those Iraqis who are having a hard time in the U.S. will end up going back, as we’ve seen they are doing, and those who stay will want citizenship. I don’t get the impression that most Iraqi immigrants are ruled by faraway Imams.

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