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Islamophobia, Amnesia and Muslim Adoptions: The Case of Canada
This paper explores a form of Islamophobia in international law through which adoption from Muslim countries is being restricted. It looks at a case study, that of the Canadian ban on Pakistani adoptions, as a form of imperial amnesia. To former imperial subjects it is well known that Colonialism reframed legal relationships and the adoption of the common law was a revolutionary adjustment. Imperial subjects retained some autonomy in personal law, but that autonomy was still conditioned on recognition by imperial courts (Hallaq, 2009). Adoption was particularly vexatious as most interpretations of the sharia do not allow for the creation of blood relations through operation of law, but recognized instead a form of wardship (kafala) which functionally serves as an adoption (e.g. Pakistan the Wardship law of 1890). With Muslim immigration to Europe and North America as the inevitable consequence of the end of empire (Patel, 2021), the question of adoptions was raised anew. The Hague Convention of 1993 was created to form a new legal landscape for intercountry adoptions but posed a challenge to Muslim countries who took a principled stand on avoiding the word adoption and many did not sign. Canada continued to allow Pakistani adoptions till 2013 when they were banned, citing sharia law as the hurdle. The paradox here is that while Canada simultaneously restricted the formal use of the sharia in marriages or enacted sharia bans it was now interpreting the sharia to keep Muslims out. This paper explores the nature of this paradox through the legal history of these two former British colonies and how in the post-colony Canada’s actions function as a form of amnesia to support islamophobic policies. Islamophobia as recent scholarship indicates reifies the past over the lived realities of Muslims in the present (Zine, 2022). These amnesiac tendencies obfuscate long histories of entanglement in a refusal to recognize Muslim claims. This paper exposes this logic through which Muslim citizenship is subject to capricious state policies which ignore imperial genealogies. This paper will contextualize its claims in the historical Muslim traditions, and the practical legal solutions in the countries subject to the ban. Hallaq, W. B. (2009). Shari'a : theory, practice, transformations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Patel, I. S. (2021). We're here because you were there : immigration and the end of empire. London; New York: Verso. Zine, J. (2022). Under Siege: Islamophobia and the 9/11 Generation: McGill-Queen's University Press.
International Relations/Affairs
Political Science
Religious Studies/Theology
Geographic Area
Islamic World
North America
Sub Area