George Bogden and Erin Biel

The Role of Religion in the Integration of Iraqi Refugees in New Haven, CT

Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees have been resettled in America. In the last year alone, 11,889 Iraqi refugees began calling the US home. Since 2007, Greater New Haven, Connecticut, has welcomed 380 Iraqis who were fleeing violence and seeking new opportunities. While considerable attention has been paid to their transition to the city and their economic plight, few news or relief organizations have focused on the interconnections between their Muslim faith and their experiences as newly-resettled refugees. This research project—organized and executed by a team of Yale students—examined the religious practices of New Haven’s Iraqi refugees and investigate the role that faith plays in their transition. The methodology of the research involved personal interviews, as well as direct observation of religious practices.

Drawing on support from existing organizations currently aiding Iraqi refugees residing in New Haven, George Bogden and Erin Biel’s objective was to collect, translate, and transcribe 15 to 25 interviews during the 2010-2011 academic year. In addition, a core element of the project involved attending religious services at mosques located in the New Haven area. The goal was to observe the religious communities in which refugees are practicing their faith.