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The hidden racism of the Muslim marriage market | Racism

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In an attempt to escape the quarantine daze, I started watching Netflix’s new reality series, Indian Matchmaking, about the often-misunderstood world of arranged marriage.

The show follows a passionate, mother-knows-best “rishta” matchmaker, who helps wealthy Indian families in Mumbai and the United States find their children the perfect spouse. At first, I really enjoyed watching 20- and 30-somethings search for love and marriage in this traditional manner. My friends and I laughed at snobby Aparna, cringed at the scenes with “mama’s boy” Akshay, and cried when sweet Nadia’s second suitor turned out to be an unapologetic “bro”.

By the end of the eight-episode series, however, I felt nauseous. Unlike some of my white friends who watched on carefree, I was disturbed by the obvious displays of classism, ethnocentrism, and colourism in the show. 

Throughout the show, I could not help but notice how these “isms” guided the matchmaker as she tried to find “suitable” potential spouses for her clients. In addition to searching for those with distinguished careers, and a slim body type, she was always on the hunt for “fair” spouses. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth as the show closed with a bubbly Indian-American woman casually saying she is looking for a husband who is not “too dark”.

The Netflix series glossed over this uglier side of matchmaking, but as a Black American Muslim woman who has previously been rejected by potential suitors based solely on race and ethnicity, I cannot look past it.

For the last four years or so, I have been knee-deep in the Muslim dating world, dealing with all those aforementioned “isms”. (And when I say dating, I mean dating-to-marry, because as an observant Muslim, I only pursue romantic relationships with one goal in mind: marriage). I encounter the same annoyances found within Western dating culture (Muslim women too get ghosted, mosted, and harassed), but due to cultural baggage that is often conflated with Islamic tradition, I am more likely to come head-to-head with sexism, ageism, and racism. The last one of which I suffer from the most.

No matter which path I take to seek marriage – matchmakers, apps like Minder, or chaperoned blind dates – I am constantly met with the sickening reality that I am less likely to be chosen as a potential partner because of my background as an Afro-Latina American born to convert parents.

Having come from a mixed family, I was never warned that who I sought to love or whoever sought to love me would be premised on something as arbitrary as skin colour, race or ethnicity. I learned this lesson the hard way a few years ago, when a painful relationship taught me to take caution. 

I fell in love with an Arab man I met through my mosque in Boston. In addition to all the little things, like making me feel heard, valued, and loved, he taught me how to centre my life around faith. He awakened a new form of “taqwa”, God consciousness, within me that I had not known before. But when we attempted to transform our friendship into marriage, we were confronted by his family’s prejudices. Although they had never met me, they rejected me outright saying we were “incompatible” – a euphemism often used to mask uncomfortable beliefs based on racism and ethnocentrism.

In the years that followed, I continued to encounter these same infections. As I tried to find the “one” through professional Muslim matchmakers, online dating, or within my own social circles, I learned that I was often not even included in the pool of potential spouses, because I did not fit the initial criteria listed by the men, or worse, their mothers. I was not of the desired ethnic background, namely South Asian or Arab – the two most predominant ethnic groups in the Muslim American community. 

Muslim matchmakers witness their clients express a preference for one type of ethnicity/race over another all the time. One friend, a 26-year-old Somali-American woman who runs her mosque’s matrimonial programme in Michigan, told me that she noticed a pattern when she reviewed the answers single Muslim men gave in a questionnaire about marriage. While Middle Eastern and North African men said they were looking for Arab or white/Caucasian women (usually referred to simply as “white converts”), South Asian men expressed their desire to marry Pakistani or Indian women. Black American and African men, meanwhile, said they were open to marrying women of any ethnicity and race. 

When I began writing about the problems I experienced in the Muslim marriage market, I discovered I was not alone. I heard countless stories of Black American and African women who were forced to break engagements due to the colour of their skin or ethnic origins. One such woman, a 25-year-old mixed Black American-Palestinian, told me that she was rejected by her American-Palestinian fiance’s mother because “she did not speak good enough Arabic” and therefore would not “fit” in the family. Countless other Black or African women, meanwhile, told me that they could not even make it to the stage of engagement because no one in the community introduced them to eligible candidates for marriage due to their race. This left many feeling unwanted, rejected, and hopeless. 

When confronted with these examples, naysayers ask, what is wrong with wanting to marry someone that shares your culture? They raise defences based on ethnocentricity, trying to hide their prejudices under the guise of love and pride for their motherlands. They argue that differences in culture create friction between a couple, and their families. 

But to all the South Asian-American or Arab-American Muslim men that do not see me as a potential spouse because of my ethnic and racial background, I ask: “Do we not share a culture? Are our lived experiences as Muslims in a post-9/11 America not enough to serve as the foundation for marriage?”

Many US-born Muslims, especially millennials and those from the Gen Z, pride themselves on successfully navigating what it means to be American (embracing American holidays, entertainment, and politics) while staying true to Islamic values. And yet, within the context of marriage, one’s “Americanness” only becomes relevant when it is used to incite racism.

While such Muslims may simply be keeping up with the practices of their fellow racist Americans, they are cutting ties with Islamic tradition. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent to rid the world of pre-Islamic traditions that favoured racism, ethnocentrism, and tribalism. He brought us revelations such as “O mankind! We created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other [49:13].”  Why do so many people overlook such verses when it comes to marriage?

In the months since the death of George Floyd, I have seen a concerted effort by Muslim leaders and activists to raise consciousness in our community about the fight against racial injustice and supporting Black bodies. There have been many online khutbas, and virtual halaqas, aimed at addressing the deep-seated issue of racism within our homes and our mosques.

However, I am afraid that all such efforts to eradicate racism from our community will fall flat if we do not speak up against the cultural and racial biases that are both implicit and explicit within the marriage market. I fear that if we continue to allow ugly cultural biases to govern who we choose to love, or who we choose to let our children marry, we will remain stagnant.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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