What are the macro-scale reasons that stand behind unfavorable treatment toward refugees in most of the EU and along the “Balkan Route”? What were the deciding factors that put the large number of Syrian immigrants in a position to feel unwanted and rejected by the parts of Europe they wanted to find their second home at, and what ultimately led to the closing of the "Balkan Route" a couple of days ago?
Many won’t say it, or attribute any importance to it, again, probably because of some fake sense of political correctness, but the first thing that an average person started asking when refugees started pouring in was: Why are they coming to Europe and not the countries surrounding Syria? And this would be a good question, if there was any logical reasoning that could be attributed to it whatsoever. But the real truth is - they actually did go to the surrounding countries.
According to the Mercy Corps website, there are more than 4.7 million refugees at this moment, and more than 6 million internally displaced Syrians. As the official statistics of the UNHCR say, the vast majority of the 4.7 million are located in Turkey (2.715.789 registered as of March 3rd), Lebanon (1.067.560 registered as of January 2016.) and Jordan (639.204 registered). Also, Iraq and Egypt are home for around 350.000 refugees aggregate.The frightening thing is that more than 54% of these refugees are children and minors under 17 years of age, and 80% of that group is under 11 years old.
In contrast to that, there are 897.645 asylum applications in the entire Europe up until mid March. That is less than 20% of the number in the countries surrounding Syria, so that completely defeats the theory of refugees flooding Europe.
The important question, one that almost nobody asks or talks about publicly is: Why is it even important if these people go to Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, Turkey or they go to Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Germany, Poland, Austria, France etc. So, why is it important where do they go, when they are just people in need, running from war? The issue in place is simple: race and religion. The climate of peace and understanding between the Christian and the Islamic communities of Europe (which are both, unfortunately, vastly larger than the Atheist community) is something that only exists in theory and on a small-scale. Islamophobia is very wide-spread due to generalization, and generalization is a stupid, stupid thing, but that’s not the subject now. And don't get me wrong - I do not disrespect neither Christians nor Muslims when I say that "there are unfortunately way less Atheists", but I don't remember the last time Atheists went killing each other and starting wars over whose Atheism is better.
It is a known fact that is also rarely spoken of, that Europe has a very strong right-wing nationalistic movements in almost every country. These movements are gaining momentum and support during the last 15 years, and the world-wide spreading of Islamophobia after the 9/11 attacks. To quote Open Society Foundation’s website report on Islamophobia: "In recent years, Islamophobia has been fueled by public anxiety over immigration and the integration of Muslim minorities into majority cultures in Europe. These tensions have been exacerbated by the aftermath of the economic crash of 2007 and the rise of populist nationalist politicians. They have also been aggravated by high-profile terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim extremists." Further more, attacks by violent jihadists in London and Madrid, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, and the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris have increased fear and anxiety. The problem with these is, as I said previously, generalization - a presumption that every and any Muslim is a terrorist just because some Muslims are terrorists. That would be the same as, for example, presuming that every German is a Nazi, just because some Germans were Nazis.
Since we all know that fear and inability to understand things are the strongest fuel for hatred and conflict (did anyone say Spanish Inquisition?) it is easy to see how in a society we like to think of as civilized, this kind of discrimination was able to flourish, almost under the radar. After the most recent terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, the climate toward Syrian migrants changed even more drastically, and spawned almost an open rebellion across the entire Europe. Among the biggest protests was the one held in Warsaw, Poland, where more than 70.000 people openly marched against immigration yelling "Polland for the Polish" etc. But it's not just Europe; if you listen to the speeches of Donald Trump, whose political influence and popularity can, in my own opinion, only be explained through some bizarre case of mass hypnosis, you can clearly see as to where does the big part of "white Christian community" stand on the question of Islam.
In such climate, the Syrians that fled their war-stricken country were and are feeling unwelcome and rejected in the part of the world they sought out to be their second home. As if their previous troubles weren’t enough for them.
How did this sad but true fact about the rising Islamophobia reflect upon the refugees passing through Greece, FYR Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria on their way to Europe? Find out in our next post on Monday.