Wednesday, October 13, 2010
By Emaan at 9:43 AM
While browsing through a list of shows, I happened to watch an interview of Pervaiz Musharraf. When talking about terrorism, the discussion went for a moment to the 7/7 London attacks. The host pointed out that a Pakistani man was also part of that attack and Musharraf went on to declare how that person was a second or third generation, born to Pakistani immigrants, Britisher. He himself and Pakistan has nothing to do with the acts of a national of another country, and the UK needs to take care of it itself. This led me to question, yet again, who am I and what is my identity?
Technically and legally that may be true. But how true is it really? Born-Abroad people I guess will always at some point (or all of their life) be caught up in this question of who exactly are they? I know I've been in a tug of war with it since forever. It feels like being in a magnetic field where there is constant pull and push.
Immigrant communities are nothing short of being as dirty as radical groups. Their radicalism doesn't necessarily lie in the day to day pulling out a of gun and shooting a flock of white birds, but more so like the politics of a jungle. The stronger members are fierce with keeping the group together. They do not let the youngsters get separated (willingly or unwillingly), and in the event of such an occurrence - has any one seen the Battle at kruger? Undoubtedly in the case of those buffaloes, everyone would applaud their courage and strength, but we are after all humans, and certainly different than animals. The game of will works differently with us. But coming back to the point of identifying oneself. Legally, yes that Pakistani involved in 7/7 is a Britisher and he is Britain's problem, not Pakistan's. But even so, culturally and emotionally, his association with Pakistan cannot be dismissed, even if he was a tenth generation immigrant. What is the reason for that? The activity and position of immigrants in a host country.
Immigrants are unique people with individual behavior that speaks volumes of their distinction from the natural citizens. Now this man may have never been to Pakistan, but because of his associations, he will never be purely British. But because of his British exposure, he will not be completely known or understood in Pakistan either. Considering the burden of his Pakistani immigrant community, he has more than not lived a very Pakistani upbringing. He may be walking around in England, but he comes home to a very Pakistani family and community. Depending on who he is walking with, he may have to be careful with restraining from areas where there are too many Pakistani restaurants. And after all this, if his personal tendency is more British than Pakistani, he is still unique and subject to racial stereotyping.
Migration is a very old human phenomenon, and inevitable. And as diverse and rich this planet is, it is aught to produce various kinds of people. God created one man and one woman only, the rest of us are a result of the processes and systems. This earth has a very deep impact on the human behaviorism. From people who build communities in the mountains to those in the flat-lands to those living close to water. Each element shapes us. We learn from, and find ourselves through the visual and non-visual metaphors of this earth.
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." [Qur'an 49:13]
So why is it that migrants and immigration and integration and xenophobia are becoming such nuisance?
" To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute." [Qur'an 5:48]
Because obviously with each passing time we are becoming more and more destructive, chaotic, selfish and corrupt.
I got a little side-tracked there. But it's still quite important. Because one, we are no longer interested in knowing one another. Two, we are way too interested in and arrogant about ourselves. Everything else is stupid, nonsensical, and less dignified. This creates tension within a born-abroad person. He has first hand knowledge of people who are not his "own", and secondhand information over those he must identify with. He may develop warmer feelings with his first hand associations or extreme love for his fantasy - a distant, exotic land where the genes of his ancestors have shaped. In either case, the opposition is unhappy.
Integration is a funny word. Your parents don't want it. And the natural residents don't seriously mean it. So what is the freakin' muggle to do? If I am born in England, why do I still call myself a born-abroad Pakistani? I have a Pakistani passport too, so what is my legal destiny if I kill someone? I've had a very Pakistani upbringing that I absolutely do not connect with, should I feel ashamed of that? The President has clearly cut me off as a Pakistani. Are these feelings and connections controllable? Must humans be predictable? As God himself says, if He wanted, everything would be exactly as what we would perceive as utopia. But it isn't, and that is the test. Being different isn't a crime, that is what's keeping the times rolling. Being constant would have killed us all a long time ago.