The story of the immigrant is one that resonates with majority of the world, as each and every one of us can connect to the struggle, and tenacity of an immigrants story. A father or a mother travel to a foreign nation, with nothing to their name with the sole intention and purpose of providing comfort and security for their family. Despite their intentions, majority of these immigrants have been met by various blockades put in place by the governing institutions all in the name of national security and societal positioning. By now, after the existence of migration for the purpose of economic gain has been around for years, one would expect that states would be more accepting and welcoming to the concept, however the distrust of intentions has left the concept of migrating is harder than ever.
The legitimacy of the capitalist state is ideologically based on the notions of nationhood and citizenship, however due to the recent threats towards national security, the legitimacy of many states globally has been undermined. The image of the migrants has associated with the term of ‘outsiders’ and their presence is now perceived as a threat, and more so if these migrants being to benefit from the social services provided by the state for their citizens. The existence of these ‘outsiders’ justifies the exclusionary ideology such as the one the Saudi Arabian state has used to explain their recent crackdown for restricting the mobility of people within national borders.
Despite this state attempts to curve the manipulation of their social contract with their citizens by excluding individual whom they feel does not meet the requirements to live within their ‘great’ nation, one cannot help but to ignore the sheer hypocrisy in the Saudi’s regimes recents change of heart to those who speak up against their mistreatment at the hands of their employers. A legitimate migrant worker can be stripped of their legitimacy if they essentially do not allow themselves to follow the direct orders of their employer, thus if they act out against their employers mistreatment or abuse it can be deemed as being subordinate and they could be forced out of job, and then out the nation. There has been numerous documentations discussing the mistreatment of migrant workers in Saudi and other Middle Eastern nations and nothing happening to alter the conditions of these workers. For instance, this one story in particular, was that of a young Ethiopian women who hung herself in her employer’s home in December 2012 due to the fact she was severely abused by her employer and was refused assistance by the state. The fact of the matter is that without these migrant workers the Saudi’s elite would not be where they are today. These migrant worker are the very backbone that is helping to provide the economy with the stability to stay a float and yet the Saudi and other arab regimes have failed to reevaluate their policies instead they have chosen to depict these migrants as an issue that needs to be dealt with immediately.
Therefore, it made sense that in April 2013, the Saudi government announced the crackdown against undocumented migrant workers deciding that it was in their best interest to issue an ultimatum for illegal immigrants living within their nation. Their actions outright displayed the lack of concern of the Saudi Arabian government for the conditions of these legal and illegal migrant workers. The government issued a grace period of seven months for illegal immigrants to gain legal status or they would be forced to leave the county. Now, fast-forward seven months later, the crackdown by the government resulted in the violence and even the death of innocent immigrants, including the three Ethiopian immigrants who were murdered in order to fulfill their proposition issued earlier this year. Now, to not sound entirely biased, one can comprehend the Saudi government may have the right to expel illegal immigrants however the justification to use force against these immigrants is utterly disgusting. I am outraged by the violence. National security does not justify murder. These are people living in the country are not there by choice but by necessity. Their income is not only keeping them alive but also their families.
In the case of the Ethiopian immigrants, historically the relationship between the Muslims and the Ethiopians has been nothing but a respectable one. I can recall the fact that Ethiopia was the first site of Hijrah or the migration of Muslim from persecution during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h). Then, to see hundreds of years later, when the Ethiopian nation welcomed Muslim citizens during their time of desperation as a safe haven during their time of need can justifiably kill their historical savours is disappointing. The actions of the Saudi government were not only inhuman but a disgrace for a nation that practices such a beautiful and accepting religion such as Islam.
What have we become? When the government consisting of the most wealthiest can accept oppressive ideologies all while hiding behind the term “national security” to promote an agenda, all while disregarding their inhumane acts towards individuals who are only trying to provide for their family must force people globally to stand up.
How does one protect humanity against their greatest enemy, humanity? No matter how many international laws are passed, no matter how many people put their blood and tears in their attempts to enforcing laws to protect humanity, the desire within humans to use hypocrisy to look out for their own best interest will never disappear. Many of these immigrants have fled situations of crisis to fall into the hands of another crisis. I urge the global community to find a long-term solution for the situations migrant workers continuously find themselves in. We need governments to view these migrants as precious human beings and not as national threats.
My prayers go out to the families of the departed migrant workers who have been killed in the name of national security at the hands of the Saudi Arabian government.