Saturday, 29 January 2011

A Question of Citizenship, Nationality and Identity

I just read an article about a woman who was hanged in Iran, I have posted a link to the article for you to read.
Even though the details are a bit sketchy as the the reasons why she was hanged, the main focus of the article is that the Dutch have frozen ties with Iran. Dutch diplomats were not allowed access to the woman while she was in jail because Iran does not recognise a person as having dual nationality. The woman in question had Iranian and Dutch citizenship.

The question of citizenship is a whole can of worms right there. What do you do when you are in a country that does not recognise you as having two nationalities. Can you indeed have two? It would surely pose an advantage and the opportunity for exploitation. Let me clarify, it could well be exploited by individuals who would commit crimes in one country, only to claim authority from another.

But what about the individual. If you had dual citizenship, for which country do you truly belong? Which do you feel loyalty to? The case of the woman in the article, she gained Dutch citizenship from living there. I am thinking more about people who are born with dual citizenship.
What is your nationality? It must be odd for people who have ties to two places. For your nationality gives you a sense of who you are. A sense of belonging to a group that you identify with because you associate part of your personality with that group.

Being Scottish, I would not claim to being British, I have a strong pride over being a Scot. I may not sound like a Scot most of the time, due to having to change my accent for work and friends. This pride is heightened when I am away from home. Because I am in such an alien country to my native land, I almost cling to things that remind me of it. I am patriotic to the point of irrationality, a point I would never reach if I remained living in Scotland.

So, citizenship and nationality is something that is central to the person that we are. We identify with a group of people simply by geography and cultural interpretations of the world and relationships, but what happens when you identify with multiple nationalities?

This for me is incredibly interesting. It provides a spring board to explore what this means for people in religions as well. What about a Hindu who lives in the UK? Someone, who has been raised in a religion that is steeped in a different culture, but that person is raised also in western society.

I could go on and on about this. But I shan't, I shall stop :)

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