Expats in UAE call India’s new passport plan discriminatory

The current annual recorded flow of low-skilled labor migrants from India to GCC countries is around 600,000 to 800,000 workers per year. (AFP/File)
Updated 20 January 2018

Expats in UAE call India’s new passport plan discriminatory

DUBAI: Indian expats in the UAE have been widely critical of the Indian government’s decision to issue orange passports to people who require emigration clearance for travel to a group of 18 countries, mostly in the Gulf region.
The Indian Foreign Ministry said last week that people who have graduated high school, or are among the 2 percent of Indians who pay income tax, and do not require emigration checks, will be issued with blue passports. That excludes the vast majority of Indian migrant workers in the Gulf.
“I don’t understand why the color has changed. How can any country discriminate against its own people on the basis of education? We are citizens of a democratic country and such a decision is against the basic foundations of democracy,” said one 42-year-old mason, who has been working in Dubai for over a decade.
Sharjah-based K.V. Shamsudheen, who heads the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, has written a letter to Sushma Swaraj, the Indian minister for external affairs, saying that this move will lead to discrimination.
“Segregating citizens this way is not acceptable. There will be a different line at the airport and other countries may consider a group of our own citizens as inferior,” Shamsudheen wrote.
“The idea is equivalent to creating an upper class and a lower class. There is no need for such a change. No developed country has such a system,” said Biju Soman of the Indian Association Sharjah.
Oommen Chandy, a member of the legislative assembly and former chief minister of the Indian state of Kerala, has written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the decision will lead to problems for Indian expats, especially blue-collar workers in Gulf countries.
“The decision is unfortunate as it will (classify) two different types of citizens, one with education and one without; this results in discrimination against our citizens. I am afraid that it may lead to insecurity among our citizens,” he said.
“The moment an orange passport holder lands in a foreign country, he will be treated as a second-class citizen and it will result in mental harassment to our honorable citizens,” Chandy wrote in his letter.
“According to available sources, nearly 15 percent of the 2.5 million Kerala diaspora (did not graduate high school, and are) thus qualified for orange color passport only. In other states it would be more than that,” he said.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) report on Indian migrant workers, India sends the largest number of migrants to GCC countries, accounting for more than a quarter of the region’s total migrant population in 2013.
The current annual recorded flow of low-skilled labor migrants from India to GCC countries is around 600,000 to 800,000 workers per year.

Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 21 March 2019

Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to "send home in coffins" visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the "vile" and "offensive" remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.