Unique Challenges of Muslim Refugees

This Ramadan, millions of Muslims worldwide will be observing this holy month of faith, prayer, and introspection in war-torn areas, refugee camps, and unfamiliar countries far from their homes and communities. While many Muslim families will come together to celebrate over a meal after a day of fasting during the month of Ramadan, it is important to acknowledge the plight of refugees observing this holy month burdened by the uncertainty of where their next meal is coming from.

In many predominantly Muslim nations, such as Syria and Afghanistan, prolonged violent conflicts have forced millions of families to flee their home countries, resulting in a substantial population of displaced Muslims throughout the world. According to the UNHCR, nearly 5 million individuals have fled Syria since the onset of the nation’s civil war in 2011, and there are over 6 million internally displaced persons within the country. Desperate to escape the war-torn country, Syrian refugees risk their lives and endure brutal conditions in hopes of a better future. High Commissioner of the UNHCR Filippo Grandi has condemned the Syrian refugee crisis as “the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time, a continuing cause of suffering for millions,” and urges the entire world to build support for this vulnerable population. While less publicized than Syria, the civil war in Yemen has victimized millions of people, resulting in the destruction of school and hospitals, as well as an outflow of refugees. According to UNICEF, over 1.5 million children in Yemen are malnourished. When the lives of innocent children are put at risk due to war and violence, it is clear that the global refugee crisis crosses lines of political and religious beliefs.

Syria and Yemen are merely two examples of the human consequences of war; millions of Muslims in conflict-ridden regions worldwide are also driven to flee the familiarity of home.

Despite the struggles faced by refugees in their home countries and during their journey in pursuit of peace and safety, there is, unfortunately, no guarantee that life for refugees in host countries will be entirely peaceful or safe. Throughout Europe and the United States, there has been a significant rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric and false claims that refugees pose a threat to society. Moreover, proposed actions by some countries to prohibit specific groups of individuals, primarily on the basis of religion, from entering their borders legitimize fears regarding accepting refugees and create a negative stigma around the Muslim population as a whole.

The Muslim community is one of the most vibrant and fastest growing communities in the world; policies based on prejudice and unfounded claims not only fail to address national security issues but undermine values of tolerance and acceptance.

It is true that there is strength in numbers, and united global voices can effectively challenge intolerance and injustice.

This Ramadan, individuals of all faiths and backgrounds should commit themselves to standing in solidarity with refugees by learning more about refugees and their situations, as well as the policies espoused by politicians and enacted by governments.

Through education and advocacy, anyone can learn about the unique struggles faced by Muslim refugees and take action to combat discrimination.

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