Gulf Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Facts, Debates and Fatwas

In: Sociology of Islam
Sari Hanafi Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies, American University of Beirut; Vice President of the International Sociological Association (for National Associations); Editor, Idafat: the Arab Journal of Sociology or

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This article will focus on how the Gulf, state and society, reacted to the Syrian crisis and the role of religious leaders in Gulf area and beyond in addressing when a Muslim should opt for migration as a response to the deterioration of their living conditions and how should behave in the host society. After examining statistics that contradict the Gulf’s official declarations concerning the number of Syrian refugees hosted by their countries, I will review briefly the debates in favor and against receiving Syrian refugees in the Gulf societies through conventional and social media. Finally, through the analysis of fatwas issued since 2011, I will argue that the landscape of religious scripts provides contradictory messages about migration, modes of migrant’s incorporation and hospitality. Some of these messages call upon Muslims to receive refugees in distress while others are either silent or discouraging refugees to go to non-Muslim countries.

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