Skip to News / Media site navigationSkip to main content

EMBRACING THE INFIDEL: Stories of Muslim Migrants on the Journey West

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)November 7, 2005

(Mahwah) – From the slums of Istanbul to the streets of Athens to the safe houses of the United Kingdom, thousands of men and women from Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran and other countries are living clandestinely, in the midst of a desperate journey to escape oppression in their homelands and find freedom and legal residency in the West.  Now, in EMBRACING THE INFIDEL: Stories of Muslim Migrants on the Journey West, Behzad Yaghmaian-a professor of economics at Ramapo College of New Jersey and an Iranian-American who has fifteen years of experience in studying, teaching and writing about political economy, globalization, and the Middle East-takes readers on an astounding trip along a modern day underground railroad that stretches from the Middle East and Africa to Western Europe and the United States, introducing readers to the Muslim immigrants who share their extraordinary stories of hope for a new life. EMBRACING THE INFIDEL will be published as a Delacorte Press Hardcover on December 6, 2005.

From 2002 through 2004, Yaghmaian lived among Muslim immigrants in ghettos, transition camps and safe houses and recorded their experiences.  The people he meet have suffered hardships that are unimaginable to those of us who take freedom for granted: many have survived war, brutal imprisonment, and political and social persecution.  In most cases the journeys themselves have been no less arduous- these men and women have crossed snow-covered mountains, navigated rough seas on small floats and boats, fallen prey to thieves and even been beaten by vicious border guards.

In the aftermath of September 11, the situation for Muslim migrants is increasingly tenuous and for many the quest carries no promise of a better life.  All of the people the author profiles are desperate to escape a state of limbo where they live unwanted and illegally in western nations, but are unable to return safely to the countries that they once called home.

At a time when immigrants are too often reduced to statistics or demonized, EMBRACING THE INFIDEL is a vital book that puts human faces on these marginalized people who simply want to live freely.

Yaghmaian tells these unforgettable stories with terse drama, combing his sympathetic commentary with the immediacy of rich, diverse voices.”

Yaghmaian offers the reader vivid descriptions of the waterfront street bazaars in Istanbul, the migrant ghettos of Athens, and the creepy underworld of human smugglers… Journalists like myself should be doing more work like this.”
— Ivan Watson, National Public Radio

An immensely remarkable book; a clear humane and startling account of the perils, sufferings and anxiety which both forced and economic migrants have to go through in order to reach the West.”
— Jose Fischel de Andrade, Center of International
Studies, University of Cambridge

A riveting account of the hardships and survival strategies of Muslim migrants who are trying to make their way to the West. Embracing the Infidel adds an entirely new and human dimension to our understanding of migration and asylum issues.”
— Dr. Jeff Crisp, Director of Policy and Research,
Global Commission on International Migration.


Behzad Yaghmaian is an Iranian-born U.S. national who has over fifteen years of experience in studying, teaching and writing about issues of international political economy, globalization and the Middle East.  He has worked closely with migrant communities in New York City, Europe and the Middle East.  A professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, he is the author of Social Changes in Iran.  He lives in New York City.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per

Ramapo College provides its students with individualized attention, mentorship, and supports; hands-on learning; and a range of opportunities for service and leadership development. Its graduation and retention rates exceed national averages and it places approximately 1,000 students per year in internships in New York City. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice; is recognized as the state’s top college on the list of Best Disability Schools by Great Value Colleges; is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools; and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others.  

Ramapo College’s over 40,000 alumni are the confident, intellectually curious, self-aware, and humble people who are highly sought after and who make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels.  Ramapo College is distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by Every student at Ramapo is enrolled in its unique and award winning Pathways Program which equips and empowers students, across the continuum of their academic career, to secure internships, pursue graduate/professional school, and/or enter the job market. 

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


Press Release Archives

| 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 |