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The Convergence of Migrants and Refugees

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Western and Muslim Perspectives

image of Sociology of Islam

The paper addresses the migrant-refugee debate in relation to recent refugee flows from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries gaining unauthorized entry into Europe. This is compared with the accusations (and denials) that the wealthy countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have not accepted any refugees from Syria in particular. It is argued that the definition of migrants and refugees is problematic in that they often converge with respect to livelihood needs and rights. Current provisions should adapt to contemporary circumstances as in the current refugee ‘crisis’ and perhaps more regard by Muslim states in the use of Islamic ethical principles applicable to the treatment of migrants and refugees. In this sense, there is a serendipitous convergence of recent arguments about refugee livelihood requirements and practices of Muslim countries such as the GCC. The primary difference is that for refugees, resettlement is assumed to be permanent, while the GCC states only offer temporary residence status.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Migration Ethics and Human Rights, Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, ; 2: Department of Social Sciences, Lebanese American University,


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