As more migrants enter the borders of Europe in search of a new life, there is an urgent need to learn to live together peacefully
The recent surge of refugees on the European continent has given the sense that something significant is in the midst. With David Cameron overturning his previous stance against asylum and Angela Merkel’s ‘No Limit’ cap for migrants finding sanctuary in Germany, it seems European and Middle Eastern politics have become intimately intertwined. Discussion of the refugees fleeing civil war and socio-economic oppression has not been confined to a boardroom of European foreign policy intellectuals either; rather, humanitarian groups have sprung up all over the West with captions of: ‘Refugees Welcome’.
These pledges at face value are exactly the attitudes Europeans should advocate, specifically because of our historical encounter with displaced populations resulting from laissez-faire war and imperialist upheaval.
These slogans unfortunately do not form the consensus of society, and the hostility present in areas of the UK concerning the refugee crisis is a potential point of friction.
A considerable concern is that the crisis may fuel further Islamophobia as the asylum seekers, who originate predominantly from Muslim countries, threaten those who believe Islam undermines national unity. A fear is that if these groups believe themselves to be polarised, they will be more exposed to the vulgar rhetoric of groups such as the BNP and their European counterparts. The other reality however, is that the 350,000 migrants that have entered the EU between January and August will be exhibited as existential proof that the crisis of an Islamic takeover, which radical groups have prophesied, has lived to be true.
The barbarity that has engulfed North African and Middle Eastern regions is unquestionably inhumane. The respective governments or ‘enforcers’ of these territories do defy every ounce of morality when their citizens are forcefully tortured, raped and bombed whilst at the same time having to live their life within a war-torn state of squalor.
The democratic nations of the West absolutely do have a duty to these people. As bearers of social equality we should enable the opportunity of gaining a liberal education or the chance to prosper in a career, both of which are possibilities that we as free citizens universally take for granted. These are democratic rights enjoyed by society as a whole regardless of religious or ethnic origin, a concept inconceivable in territories currently governed by radical groups such as ISIS for example.
David Cameron’s turnaround pledge to accept 20,000 migrants by 2020 is progressive, regardless of whether you agree with the quantity or not; however, you will acknowledge that it is not Downing Street, Westminster or Eton where they will reside when they come to the UK. They will live amongst you and I, in our communities and go to our schools; they may become educated and prosper, with the possibility that they may work in the same industries as ourselves.
But unless society is taught to welcome the affluence that these people potentially have to offer, there is a likelihood that pockets of the UK will become fervently xenophobic.
David Cameron’s children will not be educated in a classroom with Syrian refugee children, and the pessimistic reality is that his children will be raised in an elitist pocket with the likely truth that they will never experience these people first-hand. The reality of Britain’s elite, is that they are content in their isolation while making policies concerning the inflow of refugees. However, the political elite needs to be aware of the opportunities that arriving migrants can offer, and present them in a more positive light – particularly within the education system, so that the hardships these individuals have fled from are understood and respected. It is absolutely paramount that racial prejudices are chiselled out and stunted before their growth. Without this approach, Britain and Europe in ten years’ time will have an underclass of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq who are embittered and victimised by a larger and bigoted society.
A solution to the crisis in Syria and Iraq seems far-fetched and it has been complicated further with the RAF’s attack over Syrian territory. Assad has a matrimonial attachment to his power regardless of the human loss or the fact that Syria no longer has a viable economic infrastructure. This bloodthirsty, autocratic scenario plainly means there will be more migrants, and their impact when trying to enter EU states will only become a more significant policy issue.
Europe is entering a new era with fresh challenges that are determined by events thousands of miles away from its shores. Accepting these refugees into the UK is the right step to take, but there is a very fine line between tolerance and racial intolerance that could easily crop up over the next coming months.
Europe does not want to create an underclass of ‘Calais lorry jumpers’ or ‘Syrian benefit scroungers’. Such outlooks will only leave Europe in a state of relapse, repeating its archaic ethnic prejudice and leaving no hope for progress.