Tanner Post 10- Sharia Law and Islamic Feminism

Although Muslims received their independence in the 1950s, they believed they were not being treated equally, as they felt suppressed and controlled by the Westernized elites. Muslim ideals and traditions were ignored by the Western leaders, which eventually resulted in a lot of tension between the oppressed Muslims and the Western civilization. Consequently, the Islamic revolution resulted in 1979 after the militant jihad’s decided to take action and defend themselves against the Soviet Union. The authors, Sardar and Davies believe that this sudden feeling of power led to the establishment of the Taliban. The creation of the Taliban was a way for the jihadi to create an idealistic Islamic state. However, current tension between the Jihadis and the West is extremely high, as both sides perceive each other as threats and enemies.

Sharia law, otherwise known as Islamic law, was created by the fundamentalists who are extremely strict to their Islamic views; a major reason for the Islamic Revolution. The fundamentalists believe that in order to make an idealistic Islamic state, everything must be revolved around Islamic law. The Sharia Law is not the equivalent of the Qur’an, yet it is still perceived as “laws from God.” Sharia laws do the opposite of liberating women, as it signifies the objection of women’s rights. Another key characteristic of the Sharia law is the punishment quality of it. The most extreme characteristics of punishment are known as the Hubud laws which are demonstrated when someone commits a certain crime. Beheading, torture by dismantling body parts, and stoning are some examples of punishment given by the Hubud laws. The puritan fundamentalists are concerned with the Hubud laws because they want the punishments to reveal that the “state is enforcing the whole of Islam” (Sardar and Davies, 118). The fundamentalists use these punishments as a way for people to behave and to demonstrate their seriousness.

I do not believe Islamic law has always been consumed with “punishment”. According to the No-Nonsense Guide to Islam, Puritan Fundamentalists are the only ones worried about punishment and crime laws. A while back, The Muhammad talked down on punishment, explaining how everyone is equal and nobody deserves punishment. Therefor, I believe that the recent Islamic fundamentalist believe in these punishments, such as cutting ones hands off as a recompensation for what they have done. I believe what has changed is Puritan Fundamentalist are concerned about never being able to go fully practice their religion because of the restraints from society and they are afraid of never returning to what is pure, so they are implementing these scary rules.

women rights

As stated by Margot Bardon in Islamic Feminism to a Muslim Holistic Feminism, Islamic feminism includes the awareness and analysis of gender inequality and women’s deprivation of their rights and efforts. There are several differences between “secular” and “Islamic feminism”. Secular feminism was established in the form of a social movement, while Islamic feminism began as a discourse of women’s rights and gender equality, taken from religious texts such as the Qur’an. Secular feminists focused on building new institutions of state and society using democratic, constitutional, and humanitarian argument. Secular feminism was also more concerned with the pubic sphere and favored the social movement, unlike Islamic feminist’s who went for a discourse in gender equality.

Islamic feminism has been a useful tool for addressing gender inequalities within Islamic societies and communities abroad. Women are beginning to take action and go back to texts to question the way men have perceived and written them. They are also beginning to strive to hold more higher positions like men do and are attempting to change the tradition of men always being the decision maker. The Musawah was also established, as they are a group that focuses on restructuring Muslim family laws. It is important that secular and Islamic feminists combine their ideals to help change the perception of Islamic women.

References:

Badran, M. (2011).  From Islamic Feminism to a Holistic Muslim Feminism.  Retrieved from: https://blackboard.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161660-dt-content-rid-31263463_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/From%20Islamic%20feminism%20to%20a%20Muslim%20Holistic%20feminism.pdf

Davies, M. & Sardar, Z. The No-Nonsense Guide to Islam. New Internationalist Publications, 2007. Print.

 

Tanner Post 12- Islam in Scandinavia and Spain

After speaking about Islam’s integration in Italy last week, we now shift over to Scandinavia. In Islam, Europe’s Second Religion, Leif Steinberg explains the four integrated levels for Muslims in Scandinavia:

1) General Integration- Islam has not integrated in at an accepted level for them to be accepted as part of the country’s everyday life. This is indicated by the segregation in housing and in the labor market as well as the persistence of communalism among Muslims. Due to the negative views of Islam, Muslims will have to reinterpret Islam in order to be able to live a life considered in a secular society, and non-Muslims will have to make changes as well in order to accommodate them into their society. The author explains how Swedish government is working towards preventing discrimination in the labor market and the workplace, such as the rule of now accepting headscarves.

2) Political Level- Not many Muslims are active in Scandinavians political life at a national level. The way the media labels the male and female Muslims has a lot to do with the lack of involvement. Men are seen as very stubborn in sticking to their views of Islam and do not consider Swedish political involvement necessary. Women on the other hand, are portrayed as very secular and interested in politics.

3) Religious Rituals- Muslims have been against the Freedom of Religion Act from 1951 because it restricts their way of slaughtering animals. This is just another example of restricting their religion in a sense and Muslims are not fond of it and do not want to integrate.

4) Ideological level- there is room for optimism at this level. Muslims want to be recognized as “Euro-Islam” and are distancing themselves from the political problems in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Muslims in Scandinavia “are willing and able to create a more “true” Islam in Europe (Hunter, 138).

Islam in spain

“Despite a past marked by many centuries of Islamic rule, at present Muslims are not numerically significant in Spain, and the Muslim community is Spain, both naturalized and immigrant, totals 350,000” (Hunter, 157). One reason for this is because Spain has only been a receiver of immigrants for the last fifteen years. The other reason is Spain hasn’t had any lasting colonies in Muslims countries, unlike other European countries.

Muslim integration is help to many different degrees within the Spanish society. In terms of naturalized Muslims and Spanish Converts, the level of integration is high. That being said, many immigrants settle in Spain solely for economic purposes, and that limits their level of integration. In terms of a political degree, Spanish legislation has only compromised for the well-being of the Spanish Muslim community and does not extend to Muslim immigrants. The degree at a political level is very low considering many of the Muslim’s are immigrants. There is such a broad area in term of Muslim’s integration within the Spanish society because naturalized Muslims and Spanish converts are being recognized by the government policies, but immigrants are not.

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I believe it will be nearly impossible to for Islam to completely integrate in Spain if immigrants are not being recognized. I also find it extremely challenging for Muslims to be more active in the community if “most of Europe’s Muslim communities constitute an underprivileged class, clustered in ghetto like neighborhoods imbued with a culture of deprivation and alienation and with antisocial propensities” (Hunter 274). I believe the media attention and recognition of Islam it is a great sign for Islam as a whole, but I still cant see how Muslims can happily integrate with all the restrictions European’s place on them. Not only is it tough to integrate with the many restrictions placed on Muslims by the government and living as an underprivileged class, but also the people and society still lack the acceptance and care needed for Muslims to feel at home and in peace. Garcia backs this up by explaining how there are many new additions and “structures, including at the neighborhood level, in order to ensure positive and peaceful interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims” (Hunter, 173). I just find it extremely challenging for Muslims to happily integrate in Europe if they not only have to deal with government restrictions, but they also have to be concerned about the lack of acceptance from non-Muslims.

References:

Hunter, S. (2002). “Islam, Europe’s Second Religion.” Print.

Tanner Post 11- Islam Integration

 

Italy was populated with many Islam’s for an extremely long time, as their Islamic importance was recognized throughout Italy. Islam used to thrive in Sicily around the 17th century, but since the “return” of Islam, much of their significance has depleted since then. As of today, the Islam’s importance has taken a sharp decline in Italy because Italy doesn’t believe there is a reason to develop specific policies towards the Islamic world, due to their lack of colonization.

Regarding Muslim organizations, Italy differs from other European countries. Something unique about Italy is that “unlike in many other European countries, the first mosques were created not by and for immigrant workers, but by and for an intellectual elite of students from the Middle East” (Hunter, 79). Other qualities that separate Italy from other European countries are its diversity of countries of origin, rapid pace of entry and settlement, higher number of irregular immigrants, and a higher level of geographic dispersion. The author explains how Muslims are well dispersed throughout Italy and there aren’t certain concentrated immigrant communities. Another interesting characteristic is Islamic presence in Italy became apparent with the entry of the first immigrants, as other countries recognized Islam after their second immigrant generation. These “first generation” immigrants did not all come from a specific origin; rather, they came from a large variety of countries. Despite the many characteristics that initially seem to make Italy respectable in terms of handling Muslims, they don’t do so well with integration.

Italy expects all religions to sign the “intesa,” which is an agreement with the state that their religion is recognized. The Muslim community has been trying to get this legal recognition from the state but the request hasn’t been met because of certain actions that make it problematic such as: 1)Most Muslims are not Italians, they are immigrant who may not return to their countries of origin 2)Muslims do not represent a powerful political group which reduces the urgency of reaching an agreement with them 3)Cultural differences, such as the use of Arabic, which enhances the alien image of Islam 4)The financing of some Muslim institutions still comes from outside Muslim countries, enhancing the “outsider” image 5)The recent character of Italian Islam is not so great.

The author explains that to overcome, the political treatment of the presence of Muslim minorities needs to be “de-Islamized” and Muslim need to stop being viewed as a special case.

Muslim workers pray after colleagues wer

The Jamali article explains the difference between the Muslim population in the U.S. and the Muslim population in Europe. Jamali argues how U.S. Americans do a much better job of welcoming and assimilating Muslim immigrants compared to Europe. Jamali continues to express why the United States does not have a “Muslim problem” because so many Muslims are thriving in the U.S. The author explains how Muslims make up 10% of U.S. physicians, are ranked second in education, and are just as likely as any other American to earn a income of $100,000. Another major difference between American and Europe, according to a Muslim report, is that 80% of Muslims were happy to live in America, and around 63% did not seem to have any conflict with expressing their Muslim ideals in modern society.

Throughout the article, Jamali uses his family experience to help argue his belief of America being more accepting than Europe. He explains how his uncle was very educated and did not come to the United States as an act of fleeing war; it was to start a new successful life. Jamali’s brother and other family members did not have the same feeling towards their country, as they always felt like outsiders. It is important to note that there could be a bias from the author. Jamali is using his families experience to support his argument and not every Muslim will have the same experience as Jamali’s. For example, Jamali’s father has extremely educated and thrived in the United States, but not all people will have that same amount of success, which could generate different perspectives.

Another important thing to note is that a lot has changed since the article was published. Since the people of the United States elected Donald Trump, immigrants, especially Muslims, have been targeted and are seen as outsiders from many people. Donald trump established the Muslim Ban, disallowing Muslims from Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the United States. Judging from Donald Trump’s tactics, Muslims may not be as happy/proud to live in the United States like Jamali’s grandfather was.

References:

Jamali, N. (2016, April 3). “Why the US doesn’t have a Muslim problem, and Europe does.” Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161668-dt-content-rid-31263459_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/fpri.org-Why%20the%20US%20does%20not%20have%20a%20Muslim%20problem%20and%20Europe%20does.pdf 

Hunter, S. (2002). “Islam, Europe’s Second Religion.” Print.

Tanner Post 9- Refuge’s and Stereotypes

The Dispossessed and “The Escape” gives me a much better understanding of what Syrian Refugees are going through. The Dispossessed allows the readers to somewhat envision the tough life that many refugees are facing during their journey to a safer country. The article provides a storyline that involves real stories and incorporates comics to give the reader a different way to visualize the hardships the refugees are going through. The article expresses how refuge’s face money deficit problems, have to sleep in unwanted places, must avoid getting caught by using fraud identification, and have troubles communicating with family.

The Dispossessed also provides graphs to show the fluctuation in refugees amongst different countries. It is interesting to see where most refugees are exporting from and where they are going to, such as Lebanon. However, Lebanon can only do so much. It is extremely crucial for the sake of refuges that countries such as the U.S., Japan, and other well developed countries put more emphasis on this crisis by giving more help, aid, and even housing to these refuges.

I believe the comic does a great job of explaining the stories and the many problems that the refugees face, as well as expressing the excitement and relief of the refugees when they realize they are safe. A great example of this in the comic was when the police did not board and they were able to depart the train without any harm.

While I do think the comic does justice to the refugee situation, I believe the only thing that can provide a thorough justification of the refugee situation are people that actually went through it. The film “My Escape” does an exceptional job in providing the viewer with an explicit interpretation of what the crisis was like. There is actual footage of refuge’s experiences, because they taped their journey. Somebody actually describing what pain was like is what separates the justification between the video and the comic article. One of the men, Omar, was explaining how he originally had his life figured out, as he was a student who sought to build a life for himself and suddenly it “became a living hell”. His father had been killed and he was forced to leave the country. Omar had to trust smugglers for their safety, which would be extremely difficult to do when these people are trafficking others. It’s amazing to see life through the eyes of some of the refuges and get a better idea of how tough the journey of a refuge is. It’s a crazy fact to digest, but this man was a student like myself, and out of nowhere his father had died and he had to leave his country because of a civil war. It definitely gives me an appreciation of life and gives me a better understanding of how we need to be doing more to help.

refugees

The story of Intercultural Confrontation explains the negative perception that the Muslim Middle East and the West has towards each other. The article explains the two sides have an “idea of the “other” as an inferior rival or shadow of the “self” that has led to dehumanizing stereotypes as well as to habits of selective perception in which negative perceptions are remembered while more positive encounters are forgotten” ( Badkhen). The story goes on to explain how occurrences such as the killing of the Jews and Muslims by the Crusader army and the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11 are primary events that continue to provoke the stereotypes one side has for the other. Something that sticks out to me is how both sides have individuals who have committed some awful things in the past, but what makes one side worse than the other? With the perspective of the opposing “side” being labeled as “the other,” both cultures are teaching each other to follow along with these negative stereotypes.

This theme is brought up in the story of Intercultural Compatibility as well, because it expresses how there is a double standard held from both the West and the Islam. Mutually respecting one another will begin to transpire if we can refrain from bringing up stories from the past and recognize that each side holds very valuable values, such as respect for learning, desire for peace, esteem for toleration, and partnership on behalf of human dignity. However, no progress will be made with the inferior view of one another if we can’t recognize each person as an indivual rather than categorizing them in a group from what someone in the past may have done.

References:

Caryl, C. (2015). Refugees are flooding countries that can’t protect them. Will the levies break? The Dispossessed Issue. Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161662-dt-content-rid-31263792_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/The%20Dispossessed.pdf

Funk, N. & Said, A. (2004). Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation. Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161661-dt-content-rid-31263465_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/Funk%26Said_91IJPS.pdf

Tanner Post 8- Integration and the Gender System

Since the 1980s, Muslims have had an extremely challenging time integrating into the European culture, as they are struggling to adopt the practices and styles of daily lifestyles that are seen as normal within the European culture. Zemni and Parker state “Migrants, whose “problems” had been seen as a consequence of their low socioeconomic status during decades, were perceived as “culturally different”” (Parker and Zemni, 235). With that being said, Europeans are able to use this ideology as a way of explaining how Muslim’s are a threat because they are unable to adapt to the European culture. Therefor, Europeans can explain the problems the Muslim’s bring without sounding prejudice by expressing how the migrant, or Muslim is a threat because they can’t adopt new practices and fit in with the daily culture.

From my perspective, it seems as though Europeans may be using this an excuse to be prejudice, and although there may be some truth to it, there certainly is some prejudice involved as well. This way of thinking makes fitting in a lot harder for Islam and Muslims. They are automatically judged differently because people believe they don’t fit in and don’t want to adapt to the Europeans values that they pride themselves on.

Zemni and Parker explain how these judgments and assumptions “can become self full-filling” (Parker and Zemni, 236), which makes multiculturalism and integration even more challenging for Muslims in Europe. The authors state “it is never asked whether the Muslim migrant, whose social and political engagement and awareness do not extend far beyond horizons of neighborhood and family, is, in fact, fundamentally “less integrated” than the Flemish inhabitant of a working- class neighborhood whose horizons, similarly, do not extend too far beyond the local pub” (Parker and Zemni, 236). What I believe the author is trying to say is how Muslims would be looked down upon for remaining secluded and engaging in prayer, family, etc., but a Catholic would not be looked down nearly as much if he remained secluded and only contributed to society by spending money on alcohol. Muslims are not granted the same opportunity as non-Muslims in Europe. This way of thinking and this false delusional perspective makes it very challenging for Muslims.

Another problem that Muslims face is how they are seen as a group of people, rather than recognized for individual characteristics. As discussed in last weeks post, these types of assumptions have led to labeling Muslims. They are categorized as people with the same characteristics and values and are judged solely by their religion, which replaces their freedom with a more defensive, less individualistic feeling.

A very important topic that expresses the different views between Islam culture and the French culture are their opinions on the gender system. The opposing perspectives are yet another reason why many Europeans look down upon Muslims because their views are much more different. Muslims believe that women need to “hide their charms” so they are not assumed as objects and do not disrupt political power. According to Scott, the point of the Veil was to avoid excitement of sexual desires, as it is recognition to the threat that sex poses for politics and society. French, on the other hand “celebrates sex and sexuality as free of social and political risk” (Scott, 154).

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The French republic believes that the headscarf that women wear to conceal themselves is a sign of inequality and goes against the principle of “abstract individualism”. Abstract individualism is used to express citizenship, and equality in the French systems is equal to sameness. The French republic believes that anyone who pledges allegiance to the Republic must obey this principle and blend in. The headscarf poses a challenge to the French idea of abstract individualism because it is segregating women from what is “normal” in society and makes the women wearing them outsiders. It is emphasized that women should not wear a headscarf out in public because they are practicing their religion outside of their own home and using religious symbols to do so.

I find it very ironic how the French republic wants to protect women’s rights as humans yet they struggle to not label them, as well as male muslims, solely for their religion. I believe the views of the French republic are very contradicting because apparently they are fighting for women’s liberty, but they are enforcing a rule that bans the headscarf, which in turn takes away their liberty. I believe that women should have the right to decide if they want to wear the headscarf or not, they should have that freedom.

References:

Hunter, S. ( 2002). Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Print.

Scott, Joan W. The Politics of the Veil. Princeton University Press, 2007. Print.

Tanner Post 7- Muslims in Europe

As we transition over from African poverty to Islam in Europe, it is important to identify the challenges that many Muslims face. However, before having a clear comprehension, some popular myths should be recognized and dispelled. In Muslims in Europe, Justin Vaisse explains how being a Muslim constitutes a fixed identity, sufficient to fully characterize a person, as one of the primary myths perceived on Muslims. It is important to acknowledge how wrong and hurtful this could be to many Muslims. Instead of recognizing Muslims for who they are as a person, they are simply characterized by their religion. Vaisse explains how not only are Muslims being labeled by their religion, but the media often wrongly accuses Muslims, as they label any wrongdoing to be classified as an “act by a Muslim”. These negative accusations lead us to transition over to the next myth, which is Muslims in Europe “form a distant, cohesive, and bitter group”. Vaisses describes how all Muslims are labeled into the same category. If one Muslim does something wrong, then that means all Muslims are the same. Let’s take this idea of thinking and look at it from an outside perspective. If a KKK member were to identify himself as a Catholic, it would obviously be wrong to judge all Catholics as “racists”. However, this type of judgment is being done to Muslims. It is important that these myths are recognized and put to an end because nobody wants to be recognized by just one characteristic of his or her identity, such as religion, when all people have so much more to give.

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Now that we have a good example of some of the myths about Muslims in Europe, we can delve into the distinction between religious and political dimensions of Islam. It is extremely vital to make a distinction because it “gives the impression that it is not possible for a Muslim to become open and to integrate into a secular society, which is a completely wrong view” (Hunter, 209). In order to find this distinction, we can look into how Muslim’s handle worship and social affairs. In terms of worshiping, Muslims have to follow a text and do exactly what it says. Hunter uses prayer as an example, as Muslims prayers are based specifically on how a text explains how to perform it. When it comes to social affairs nonetheless, guidelines are much different. Muslims do not have to do anything specifically from text; they just cannot contradict a prescribed principle. The way I see it is Muslim’s just cant break specific rules. From this way of living is how Islam is so diverse. Although all Muslims follow strict religious principles, there are many different customs in terms of a social perspective. Everyone, especially Europeans, need to understand the differences between how Muslim’s handle religious and social factors because Muslims do not plan on changing the way life is in Europe, which is what many fear about immigrant. Muslims are used to adapting to new environments. The only thing that will not change is the way they practice their religion.

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Education is bringing many challenges to Muslin communities of Europe because the school system is not a straightforward, clear-cut system anymore. Education is very hazy now because not many people understand or follow along with responsibilities and their respective duties. Ramadan explains how in the past, education was very simple; the school provides the learning while family provides education. However, it seems as though the schooling system is focusing too much on teaching life’s meaning and values. This is a challenge for Muslims because many are starting to question who they are and they believe that family should teach these types of teachings at home. To fix this, Ramadan believes that Muslims should come together and discuss what exactly they want. If Muslim’s cannot find what it is they truly want from the education system, students will continue to “no longer really know who they are” (Vaisse, 216).

Social rifts also bring challenges to Muslim communities. European societies are currently in a social and economic crisis due to unemployment, delinquency, social exclusion, violence, and insecurity. This brings a major challenge to Muslims because with all of these issues transpiring, it is more likely for racism to be prevalent towards Muslims. Ramadan believes that Muslims “must fight all types of social deviations. Short-term work is an indispensable first step, but it must be accompanied with long term strategies for social and urban development” (Hunter, 217). Promoting social welfare, helping out against violence and protecting more vulnerable people are all ways that can help Europe and Muslims counter these challenges. Ramadan requires that all citizens, regardless of their beliefs, should do these actions.

References:

Vaisse, J. (2008, September). Muslims in Europe: A short introduction. Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161664-dt-content-rid-31262538_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/09_europe_muslims_vaisse.pdf

Hunter, Shireen T. Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Westport: Praeger, 2002. Print.

 

Tanner Post 6- Combining Perspectives

As we continue to delve into the book, Poor Economics, Banerjee and Duflo describe the two different perspectives that economists Jeffery Sachs and William Easterly have in regards to helping other countries end poverty. While examining the ideas from both viewpoints, I find it extremely hard to choose a side that I agree with more, as both have many great ideas. I believe that if the two economists could find a way to combine/compromise their ideas, we could see extraordinary results in these impoverished countries.

Sachs is a very strong advocate for stepping in and trying to make a difference in these poor countries by helping with the many problems with corruption. Sachs believes that in order for people living in poverty to come out of it, they need to be given funds and taught how to use these funds properly to reach a specific long-term goal. However, on the other hand, Easterly seems to be against providing aid to these countries because with all the government corruption that transpires, a large majority of the aid is not being used properly. He also believes outsiders are not aware of the environment of other countries and shouldn’t try to make a difference in government control. Easterly expresses how government issues need to be taken care of internally and a democracy needs to be established. Easterly is also for the idea of self-created institutions that provide hope and motivation for the future. These types of changes would not be possible if outsiders were stepping in. Since it is extremely challenging to simply switch to a democracy and have free market institutions emerge, Easterly explains his ideas of how these countries could make it work. Easterly states “freedom cannot be imposed from outside, otherwise it would not be freedom. These institutions, then, have to be homegrown and emanate from the bottom up. All that can be done is to campaign for the ideas of individual equality and rights. (Banerjee and Duflo, 242). Easterly is strongly for the idea that it is up to the people of these individual countries to help build a democracy and implement proper policies to get them out of poverty.

poor-economics

Although I agree with Easterly with the idea that many of these issues need to be adjusted internally, I find it extremely hard to believe that poor people can find ways to help change the government and implement their own tactics to make a reasonable amount of money. It’s just not that easy in my opinion! If it were that simple, then why hasn’t it been done? From my viewpoint, the answer is because of a lack of knowledge: a common theme that persists through Poor Economics.

I strongly believe that there needs to be some type of help from outsiders if people hope to get out of the poverty trap. However, maybe not the extent at which Sachs believes. Easterly is completely right when he says that giving money to people only goes so far when the government is corrupt and proper policies aren’t in place. I believe that instead of giving money to people to help them get out of the poverty trap, the money should go towards education and teaching people how to develop and prosper. This is where the ideas of both economists mix! If aid goes towards helping people increase their knowledge on how to implement free market institutions and help a democracy emerge, then maybe people will be able to do it themselves. Some sort of help needs to be done for these impoverished people to be able to help themselves. Having the aid focused on increasing knowledge on how to change the government system and make a difference in the economy would be a great start!

Banerjee and Duflo do a great job in addressing the issues of poverty and hunger by drawing awareness to the two goals: 1)end poverty in all forms everywhere and 2)end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The authors have suggested many ways into helping attain these two goals, such as randomized trials. In Poor economics, the authors explain how Americans wouldn’t be as efficient in getting shots, medicine and staying healthy if we didn’t have incentives. Randomized trials with incentives are one way to help find a solution to people being more motivated to improve their health. Preventing sickness instead of curing sickness is a main point that Banerjee and Duflo discuss and randomized trials help attain that. It is important that attention is being brought to these issues and people must consistently look for ways to help.

References:

Banerjee, A. & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor Economics.

Tollefson, Jeff. “Can Randomized Trials Prevent Global Poverty.” Nature.com. N.p., 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.

Tanner Post 5- Micro-Credit and Mali

Micro-finance is a very popular discussion in many emerging countires as its innovation allows impoverished people to take out loans to develop a business and begin their own personal savings. Many poor people in Africa are not involved in the traditional banking system because many believe it to be too risky and it is simply too much to pay for due to the (as many poor people would see it)extravagant initial payment it costs just to open a savings account.

Banerjee and Duflo argue from both perspectives about how there are arguments for and against micro-credits. The authors believe that micro-credits have the potential to jump start their future, as it makes people think about their long term goals and gives them more incentive to try harder. Receiving a loan takes a lot of stress off of peoples shoulders when it comes to starting a small business. It provides some leeway and possibly some psychological comfort knowing that you have the money to pay for certain expenses. Many of the impoverished people who are taking advantage of micro-credit have a great chance of getting on their way to starting a small successful business.

Although there is great opportunity that comes from micro-credit, it often requires a lot of unwanted time and energy invested into the process. Banerjee and Duflo talk about how while starting a business from loans, people must take it one step at a time to reach their long-term goal. However, it is not always that easy. It is exceptionally hard for poor people to dedicate so much time and effort when the long-term goal seems so far away. The authors explain how many people who don’t take advantage of micro-credit are unable to do so because they know that, other than time, starting a business comes with other costs. It is hard for many people to start a business when they realize all the implications that come with it, such as paying other employees and simply finding good ways to sell their product or make profit. All of this pressure takes a tole on many people psychologically and many people do not think it is worth all of the sacrifice.

It is easy to judge and wonder why people are not taking advantage of micro-credit and other “low hanging fruit”. However, when looking from a different perspective, I realize that it is much easier starting a business and living a “successful life” when everything is taught to me and I am basically steered my way through life. Banerjee and Duflo explain how many poor people do not get the same opportunity in knowledge and education. Therefor it is a lot harder for impoverished people to take such a big step towards their future when it seems so challenging and far away.

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Micro credit is making a huge impact in Mali. IPA (Innovations for Poverty Action) conducted a study to determine if micro-credit was beneficial or not. Since agriculture is the primary job in Mali, The IPA organization granted loans to many agricultural farmers at the beginning of the farming and was expected to be paid back at the time of the harvest. The article states “the evaluation of this program studied whether agricultural microfinance can help relax constraints to technology investment among smallholder farmers in rural Mali through offering credit, either in loan or grant form. The results show that giving some farmers unrestricted cash grants led to significantly higher productivity and profits, suggesting farmers would invest more in their farms if they had more capital” (Innovations For Poverty Africa). The research study shows that agricultural loans attract clients with a great ability to grow their farms and is a great way to get farmers off of their feet and begin making money.

One organization that stands out is Ecova Mali. Since farming is the main occupation in Mali, Ecova Mali helps with grassroots development for farming. Ecova Mali provides teaching and loans to help get businesses started. What makes Ecova Mali so special is that it doesn’t just lend entrepreneur’s money. It provides them with ways they should go about starting their farming business. Another article explains how before 2003, micro-credit was only successful in Southern Mali as opposed to Northern Mali. However, many people, especially community leaders, are beginning to take more intelligent approaches to starting their businesses and are having success. One of the business organizations, “Association Dourey-Timbuktu (DOT)” is a microfinance institution licensed by the government that is helping communities around the city of Timbuktu that has helped establish over 500 greatly needed businesses. Implementing the proper usage of micro-credit has made a positive impact on Mali.

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Digital Technology is making a big difference in Mali. In the Sahel region, Mali leads when it comes to mobile penetration as it has a rate of 119%. Over four million Malians make mobile payments, which are drivers of financial inclusion. Since technology is making a big influence in Mali, the government has implemented a plan called “Mali Digital Plan 2020” as it seeks to bring more technology into its country  because it will provide more job opportunities. The government said “the policy will help reorganise the digital economy, boost economic growth and create jobs, among others. The government also said that the digital plan will focus on the following areas: expand the access to digital networks and services, develop production and digital content, diversify digital use and services, strengthen the existing legislative framework, develop human capital, and develop local digital industry” (Mali Digital Plan 2020, 2014). If the plan is successful and digital technology continues to increase, Malian businesses and economic growth will prosper.

References:

“Mali Digital Plan 2020 to Reorganise Economy.” BiztechAfrica. N.p., 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Banerjee, A. & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor Economics.

“Agricultural Progress in Cameroon, Ghana and Mali.” Innovations for Poverty Action (2008): n. pag. IPA. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Tanner Post 4- Mali’s Cheetah’s and Low-Hanging Fruit

As explained in my previous post, a “cheetah” is a person or organization driven to energize their country and push forward in a more positive, efficient direction. Radelet explains the importance of Cheetahs, as they are dedicated to making a change in the way they develop their nation and are not focusing on the past like the “Hippos” do.

Ironically enough, the organization “Lions in Mali” is a group of Cheetahs focused on quickly managing the poverty issue in Mali and helping the country protect their basic human rights. The “Lions Club” is the world’s largest volunteer service organization as they are making a positive impact on 42 African countries, especially Mali. One of the main things that this Cheetah organization is doing in Mali is drilling nearby wells so everyone has access to nearby, clean water. The “Lions club” is also implementing new schools and showing life skills to villagers. Aside from education, the “lions club” aims to improve the health of Malians as they are working to prevent blindness and increase the care for people with AIDS and diabetes. The “Lions club” can be referred to as cheetahs rather than “Hippos” because they are taking a fast approach to implementing ideas and new tactics to increase the growth of the nation. Although the “lions club” isn’t just focused on Mali, they are working with every country they visit to label the problem and quickly find a solution.

Many villages in Mali are beginning to thrive, as the clean water is preventing death from water-born diseases.

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With the increasing effort of the Cheetah generation striving to apply new ideas and tactics, the democracy of Mali is beginning to shift in the right direction. However according to the website, Freedom House, Mali’s freedom status in only partly free.

In January 2015, Moussa Mara and his cabinet were replaced as Boubacar Keita took over. Rebellion has been a major issue in Mali, as many people believe they have little say in the country and see to establish federalism. According to Freedom House, Mara was unable to deal with corruption well and was unwilling to increase the emphasis on peace talks to end the Tuareg led rebellion in the north. With a new leader in office, there was “promise of resolving the conflict, as the new prime minister had been a top government negotiator in the peace talks during 2013” (Freedom House, 2017). Although the new prime minster’s intentions seem good, Mali has still been unable to sufficiently better their democracy, as “insecurity and limited access continued to hinder efforts to provide basic services and ensure respect for the rule of law in northern Mali” (Freedom House, 2017).

With the many struggles that the prime minister and the new cabinet is expected to fix, resolving the issues is taking some time, leaving the democracy ranking still fairly low. According to Freedom House, Mali has an aggregate score of 45/100 with a freedom rating of 4.5/7. Mali also scores a 5/7 in political rights and 4/7 in civil liberties. Although these scores seem low, Mali is on the right track. It is essential that Boubacar (prime minister) and his cabinet seek for more efficient ways to find peace.

While aiming to increase the overall health of the countries in Africa, there are many instances where people are failing to take advantage of the resources they have. In Poor Economics, the authors describe these resources as “low-hanging fruit”. Many people in Africa, especially the struggling countries, are failing to pick the low-hanging fruit and “eat it”, or use it properly. For example, out of the 9 million children who die before they are 5 years old, 1/5 out of them pass away because of diarrhea. This could be prevented if people would make better health investments, such as looking into drugs that “could already save most of these children: chlorine bleach, for purifying water; and salt and sugar, the key ingredients of the rehydration solution ORS” (Benerjee and Duflo, 42).

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However, many of these simple and even cheap ways go unnoticed. Too many people are making poor health investments in more expensive medical treatments such as surgeries, which are usually done too late, or antibiotics, which would be unnecessary if they obtained the drugs described previously. Banerjee and Duflo explain how “the issue is not how much the poor spend on health, but what the money is spent on, which is often expensive cures rather than cheap prevention” (Banerjee and Duflo, 51). Lack of education and knowledge is one reason why many are ignoring the simpler, more efficient ways to protect their health. The government is also making it much harder to access the cheaper preventative option, as government is the main player in prevention medicine. With that being said, it is partly on the government to open more access to health care centers and to implement a better health care system that the people trust. Therefor, it is easy to blame both the citizen’s lack of awareness and knowledge as well as the government for the failure to make use of the “low-hanging fruit”.

Despite the struggle of taking advantage of their resources, many people could make a fast change in their life by focusing on better health investments, such as distributing bed nets to prevent mosquitos nearby at night. Spending a large chunk of money on malaria to be terminated would not only save the lives of many, but the “financial return to investing in malaria prevention can be fantastically high” (Banerjee and Duflo, 45). Investing in cleaner water and better sanitation is another health investment that would have very positive benefits. For example, many people who don’t have malaria or a certain disease have to share showers and other sanitation supplies with people who are infecting. Investing in healthier, safer sanitation systems would result in more healthy people and an eventual decrease on money spent of health.

There are many other clever health investments, such as deworming drugs, Vitamin B pills, etc. that will provide better, more efficient health outcomes. It is important that knowledge of these investments is spread and acted on properly.

References:

“Mali.” Freedom House. Freedom in the World, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

“Clean Water: Making a World of Difference in Mali.” The Lions Blog. Action Against Hunger, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

Banerjee, A. & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor Economics. Print.

Tanner Post #3 Africa’s Nutritional Needs

Part 1:

In the beginning of Steven Radelet’s, Emerging Africa, there is a significant focus on the seventeen countries in Africa beginning to make sufficient progress in developing into stabilized countries. Radelet stresses how these countries should not be categorized with the other countries in Africa, as there is usually a negative perception with Africa as a whole. In later chapters six and seven Radelet writes about the technological significance in emerging countries and introduces the “Hippo” and “Cheetah” generations. Radelet emphasizes how important technology is in helping transfer information by encouraging government funds, spreading news bulletins, and finding out important information that wouldn’t be understood without technology. Radelet eventually dives into the two substantially different generations, the “Cheetah’s” and the “Hippo’s”. The Cheetah generation consists of a population of many different Africans committed to energizing their countries and moving ahead in a more positive direction. The Cheetah generation refrains from looking in the past fretting about imperialism, like the “Hippo” generation. Radelet describes the Hippo generation as slow movers who have made very little progress in development. When referring to the Hippo generation, Radelet states, “The old leaders and their styles, ideas, policies, fears, and histories are fading away. They are slowly being replaced by a new generation poised to overcome some of the most trenchant problems of the past and build a new future for Africa” (Radelet, 2010). The Cheetah’s have a completely different perspective when handling democracy and civil society, as they their economic policies are much more people friendly and their democratic governance gives them more opportunity to succeed. When expressing the meaning of the Cheetah generation, Radelet refers to five things that stand out:

  1. They are bringing fresh ideas to the table in business, government, and civil society.
  2. They are self-reliant and self-starters
  3. They are providing new thinking and perspectives on brand new businesses, such as biomass fuel for cleaner and smaller-scale energy in rural areas, and on how to organize old businesses better, including everything from bakeries to breweries.
  4. They come with ideas and strategies for organizing communities, particularly youth, to provide local services and speak out in political debates.
  5. They come with ideas and approaches for using the private sector to solve what were once seen as public sector problems, such as supplying clean water and basic health services.

The Cheetah generation is clearly determined to push back against old policies and make a difference in the African countries. The Cheetahs are rapidly making themselves the “new generation of talented leaders in business, government, politics, and civil society. The future is in their hands. And in their hands the future looks bright. (Radelet, 2010).

Part 2:

In Poor Economics, by Abhijit Banerjee, the main concept revolves around the nutrition-based poverty trap issue that many poor people suffer from. The author’s explain how the poor continue to get poorer because they do not have a sufficient amount of food to produce energy, so their work continues to lack. On the other hand, the rich continues to get richer because they can afford the nutrients and energy it takes to make them better at their work, therefore the poverty-trap gap increases. It is a continuous cycle, as the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. While reading, I thought of a certain scenario that is relevant in the schooling system. Many less fortunate students may have more of an issue learning and grasping on to concepts because they are hungry and not receiving the energy they need to do well in school. The same idea applies to the poverty-trap explained in Poor Economics. The author explains how this continuous cycle could end if the poorer received more food and had the energy to do more sufficient work that they are currently unable to do because they are hungry.

However, with that being said, there is another argument made that many people in poverty do not use their money for the proper reasons. Some people in poverty on spending the money they could be using for food on other insignificant items like tobacco, drugs, alcohol, or other meaningless expenses. The authors went on to explain how when some of the impoverished victims do have the money to spend of food, they buy the more unhealthy choice, as they are more focused on the taste rather than the nutritional benefit. Without nutrients, energy is extremely low resulting in less sufficient work. This is a clear issue that needs to be addressed and a policy that must be managed or the gap will continue to increase.

Witch hunting is another topic elaborated on in Poor Economics. The author’s explain how witch-hunting still persists in some communities today. Witch-hunting can be directly linked to the nutritional problem that many people in Africa face. When people cannot find a suffice amount of food, some tend to go to far in their endeavors to obtain food. The idea of it is that people will have more to eat with one less mouth to feed. Therefor, some people result in killing off another person who is less deserving of the food, such as an elderly person or someone who has made a major mistake within their community. Finding a solution to the nutritional issue that persists is easier said than done, but it will have limit many problems occurring across the world, especially with hunting.

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Part 3:

I was assigned to reflect on the progress Mali has made in regards to the original SDG’s. According to the World Bank Data, Mali’s GDP has increased immensely since 2000. In 2000, Mali’s GDP was 2.954 billion and as of 2015, Mali’s GDP is 12.747 billion. Putting it into perspective, an increase by 10 billion dollars is a very large increase. The population has also increased from around 11 million to roughly 17 million. In regards to total years, the life expectancy at birth has risen about 10 years now as the average death rate is around 58 years old.

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Despite the increase in GDP and life expectancy, it really isn’t too impressive considering there are still more than 800 million people living on less that US$ 1.25 a day. Many of these people struggle to find fresh water, sanitation, and nutritious foods. Despite the struggles that Mali continues to face, the SDG’s still aim to end poverty by 2030. One of the main ways that Mali looks to fix the poverty situation is by use of a community radio, which will help relay information regarding health, sanitation, as well as other meaningful information. Another problem Mali is trying to face with the help of SDG’s is providing more water resources and help with nutritious needs. Drought and climate change is taking a toll on Mali but with the implemented ideas from the SDG, they may be able to overcome these hazards.

References:

Banerjee, A. & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor Economics.

Radelet, S. (2010). Emerging Africa

“Goal 1: No Poverty.” UNDP. United Nations Developmental Program, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.
“Mali.” Mali | Data. The World Bank, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.