World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


CITIZENSHIP IN THE ARAB WORLD: A ROOTING AND EVOLVING CONCEPT? - 2/2: MENA Citizens and Their States (328) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 11.30 am-1.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: The American University in Cairo (Egypt)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Gianluca P. Parolin

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: The theoretical debate on citizenship emerged in the Arab world at the turn of the 20th century along with the discourse on the nation-state. The dispute soon focused on the status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state. Instead of looking into the concept of citizenship and defining its contents (viz. the position of the individual vis-à-vis the state and the bundle of rights attached to citizenship), intellectuals and reformers engaged in arguments over the equality of Muslims and non-Muslims in an Arab-Islamic state.
Since the end of the 20th century the debate on citizenship has gained renewed impetus and interest, mainly as a result of external pressure on the status of women in the Arab-Islamic context. The risk, however, is to fall into the same circularity as in the past. Lately, Arab politicians and media are increasingly bringing citizenship into the public discourse. The greater recurrence of the terms ‘citizen’ and ‘citizenship’ does not by itself guarantee the achievement of a corresponding advancement.
The purpose of this series of (two) panels is to look at how the concept of citizenship is taking root and evolving in the region from an interdisciplinary perspective. The preliminary panel proposal met with such enthusiasm that allowed for a selection of distinguished speakers with different backgrounds and perspectives on the issue.
The second panel – with evident thematic connections to the first – further explores the concept of citizenship in the region, in particular how it is rooting and evolving. At the cutting edge of this area of citizenship studies are clearly political participation, identity, education and migrations. The four selected papers each consider one of these problematic junctures focusing on specific case studies, but with a wider view to the general debate. The paper on political participation in Morocco looks at the highly debated participation of women in Moroccan politics, challenging many of the traditional assumptions in literature. The paper on identity considers the relation of the latter with citizenship in a context where citizens almost disappear in an ocean of non-citizens: the Emirate of Dubai. The paper on education marshals in a field of studies – citizenship education – which is quite lively in the West, but has received very little attention so far in the region. Last but certainly not least, the paper on migrations offers an unparalleled litmus test for citizenship policies and conceptions: the effect of migrations on citizenship policies in North-Western Africa.

Chair: Gianluca P. Parolin (Law Department, The American University in Cairo)

Paper presenter: Fatima Al Sayegh (UAE University), “Modernity vs. Identity in the UAE. Dubai as a case –study”
Since the 1970s, the UAE in general and Dubai in particular have gone into a drastic urban and societal development, and in a less than a couple of generations, the inhabitants of the UAE , too ,have been transformed from a traditional largely rural people, into modern sophisticated group of people living in a modern society. Caused by this sudden modern transformation, an influx of immigrants from all over the world pours into the country making it a unique place in which to live and work. As a result of this drastic societal change, new concepts of identity began to arise both among local and expatriate people. The change was largely rested around the old traditional concepts of nationality wishing to replace with a modern one to match the new societal change. The new change not only questions the traditional societal concepts but also gave rise to a new concept of nationality and identity. This paper is going to shed a light on the drastic urban change that the UAE undergone into and question the new thoughts that accompanied this transformation. Throughtout its evolution into the modern state the UAE nationals are asking themselves the experienced an acute question of identity crisis. Many questions have been asked among which concerning the identity of the national minority and the identity of the many minorities that been living in the UAE.

Paper presenter: Loubna Skalli-Hanna (American University - Washington University, DC), “Brave New Citizens. Middle Eastern Youth Re-defining Citizenship”
Since 9/11, Middle Eastern youth have been targeted with an unprecedented number of intervention programs seeking to a) enhance their understanding of citizenship and 2) turn them into “good” citizens. Citizenship or civic education has become catch phrases under which youth engagement, empowerment, and leadership are promoted by international development assistance, and national governments in the region. My presentation provides answers to the following questions:
1. How do Middle Eastern youth define citizenship within their changing material and symbolic realities?
2. How does civic/citizenship “programming” targeting Middle Eastern youth help (or complicate) their construction of identities, sense of belonging and understanding of citizenship?
Relying on large scale surveys on youth and drawing on extensive multi-sited ethnographic data I have collected over the last 18 months, I demonstrate how citizenship definition has become a site of struggles among different actors, including youth themselves. The changing and contested meanings of citizenship are taking place within a region itself undergoing tremendous change given the often competing and colliding inter/national political agendas. I also argue that the “new wave” of citizenship education is a project that both carries significant empowerment potential unpredicted risks: the result may well challenge the pre-determined outcome set by inter/national actors.

Paper presenter: Delphine Perrin (European University Institute, Florence), “Immigration and Citizenship in Maghreb countries”
Maghreb nations are reputed to be hostile to the incorporation of externalities. As most of countries worldwide, their nationality legislations are essentially based on the right of blood, which perfectly fits emigration countries’ wish to keep a link with the diaspora abroad. This emphasis on descent, and especially paternal descent, has not been balanced by the introduction of a substantial right of soil, whose effect had mainly been rejected after independence. Besides, their initial reluctance towards dual citizenship achieved to make them figure as close societies primarily trying to build a fragile nationhood.
Since independence, these countries have experienced a number of challenges deeply questioning their national identity and among them the emigration of thousands of citizens, social and economic failures, the discredit of Arab nationalism, the intensification of immigration and the growing foreign presence in the countries.
Without demonstrating any trend to adapt themselves to these stakes, Maghreb states have revealed a great diversity. The conception of perpetual allegiance has considerably different ideological basis in Morocco and in Algeria; Mauritania and Libya’s reluctance towards dual nationality is also diversely founded. Rules themselves significantly vary within the region, concerning the degree of gender discrimination, the scope of jus soli or the treatment of Arab nationals.
Nevertheless, we can argue that jus sanguinis, and its recent extension in some countries, may be a real way of integrating externalities in Maghreb nations. To the noticeable exception of Libya, Maghreb countries nowadays grant citizenship to children born to a male or female citizen and a foreign national.
Children without any national blood can also become citizens. Only one out of these five countries provides for a right of soil regardless of any descent. Still, resident foreign kin may enable children to acquire citizenship through double or triple right of soil, with or without co-ethnic preference. Descendants of immigrants in Maghreb countries have greater chance to become citizens than their ascendants, since access to citizenship through marriage or naturalization is tight –for internal as well as international reasons.
My intervention will aim at presenting how nationality laws and practices in Maghreb countries have interacted with other policies and regulations, especially regarding migration; and discussing the fact that, despite quite rigid, inadequate and still discriminatory citizenship regulations, Maghreb countries have been evolving towards a growing acceptance of being mixed societies.

Paper presenter: Aiko Nishikida(Research Institute for the Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), "'Abna' Ghazza' and the Jordanian policy on citizenship"
The purpose of the paper is to clarify the legal and social condition of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip (hereafter Gaza) in present Jordan, and to analyze the Jordanian policy on citizenship. After "Nakba" in 1948, most of the Palestinians who left to Jordan gained Jordanian nationality, and have enjoyed equivalent rights with the other Jordanian citizens. However, there are several exceptional categories in which people were not admitted nationality based on the historical or political reasons. One of the biggest categories is the Palestinians who left to Jordan from Gaza in 1967. They are called "Abna' Ghazza" and live scattered in Jordan. "Abna' Ghazza" are in unique legal status. Although they don't have nationality, they are provided temporary travel documents, and permitted residency in Jordan with easily renewable ID cards. They are treated as half-citizens, with limited social rights and almost no political rights. Their status derives from the historical circumstances in which they came to Jordan. After "Nakba",Gaza fell under Egyptian authority, which made the residents not eligible for Jordanian nationality. So in 1967, people from Gaza were not even counted as "the internally displaced persons" in Jordan like people from the West Bank. Difference of the legal status is recognizable in whether they have national number (raqm watani) or not. The number means registration of their Jordanian nationality, and appears in their passports or travel documents. Only who has national number is considered to be a full-citizen of Jordan. The number works as a legal base of provision of social service by the government, so the Palestinian refugees enjoy the services as long as they have national numbers. This inflicts huge frustration among "Abna' Ghazza" who can receive support only from private organizations or UNRWA.Various treatments of Palestinians in Jordan according to their acquisition of national number indicate one aspect of Jordanian policy on citizenship. The number means a status of nationality or full-citizenship, while a status with half-citizenship is also admitted as possibility. In other words, the Jordanian government differentiates citizenship from nationality intently, and provides them to people appropriately in pursuing its diplomatic policy. Social condition of "Abna' Ghazza" is quite severe without nationality, and UNRWA works as a safety net in the absence of governmental services.