Why has the refugee crisis evoked such strong sentiments in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere? We look at the figures that provide clue to what is afoot.
Wednesday September 09, 2015, 09:54 DST
As hundreds of thousands of desperate families—children, women and men—flee the horrors of war in Syria and North Africa, European racism, especially Islamophobia has come to the fore with striking clarity. Regimes that have for decades proclaimed the virtues of secularism, have suddenly discovered their religious roots. “We only want Christian refugees, not Muslims. The latter cannot fit in with our cultural values,” is a refrain now heard from public officials in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and a host of others.
Comparisons have been drawn with the refugee crisis during the Second World War. These are both instructive and revealing.
During the Second World War, Jews were shunned and persecuted because of their religion; today it is Muslims. In an ironic twist, only Germany has risen above xenophobia and promised to take in 800,000 refugees by the end of the year. It has pledged to take in 500,000 refugees for each of the next four years. This stands in sharp contrast with the niggardly attitude of Britain that has so far taken a grand total of 273 refugees. Britain’s tabloid press (more accurately referred to as the gutter press) has described the refugees as “cockroaches”. They are “swarming” Europe, as if they are some kind of pestilence.
For the record, the refugees are not all Syrians although a large percentage of them are. And they are not fleeing their country because they enjoy the Mediterranean boat ride. Already more than 3,000 have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea this year. The horrors faced by refugees hit home when the shocking image of a three-old boy—Aylan Shenu Kurdi—was splashed on TV screens and on newspaper front pages on September 3.
Aylan, his brother Galep and mother Rehana drowned off the coast of Turkey. Their father Abdullah survived to tell the horrific ordeal they went through. The Kurdi family, like hundreds of thousands of others are fleeing wars imposed on their countries—Libya, Syria, Iraq—through Western intervention.
Terrorists have been unleashed on innocent people that have indulged in murder, rape, kidnappings and other horrors. Amid Europe’s racist policies, the European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been forced to urge member-states to take “bold” action to tackle Europe’s worst refugee crisis. Speaking in Strasbourg today, he urged EU members to take in 120,000 refugees. “Now is not the time to take fright, it is time for bold determined action for the European Union,” he said.
He also warned EU member states not to make religious distinctions when dealing with the refugees. “There is no religion, there is no belief, there is no philosophy when it comes to refugees,” Juncker said.
In addition to Germany, Austria and Sweden have also shown great compassion and have not succumbed to Islamophobic rants in the media or by rightwing fascist groups. By contrast, Arabian regimes that have financed terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya have refused to take in any refugees.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest culprit has refused to allow any Syrian refugees into the kingdom. One Kuwaiti official even had the gall to say that Syrian refugees should not come to Kuwait because they would not fit in!
One wonders why Syrians would not fit in and what is so special about the Kuwaiti or Saudi Bedouins that until recently lived in tents in the desert?
The crises in Syria, Libya and Iraq have exposed the criminal nature of Bedouin-ruled regimes.
Brief look at countries and the number of refugees they have taken in: