International columnist, political analyst and senior journalist Ahmed Mohiuddin Siddiqui’s articles are published across Asia, Africa and Europe. He writes for The Moroccan Times, The Tunis Times, India Tomorrow, Kohram News, The Etemaad Urdu Daily and for news papers published from Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. You can follow him on Twitter at: @journopolana[/symple_box]
The continent of Europe known for renaissance, broad outlook, rationalism and tolerance is giving way to pettiness of mind, discrimination, lack of human dignity and concern. Islamophobia is seeping into the European and the Australian psyche where Christians are preferred and Muslims barred from entering some countries fearing a demographic change. There is also a war cry to stop the return of the Ottoman rule in Europe.
The Syrians – both Muslims and Christians have been brutalized by the barrel bombs and tanks of the Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad and the menace of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This glaring fact is overlooked to deny entry to the hungry, thirsty and needy Syrian Muslims in countries which are predominantly Christians. Slovakia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Poland lead the anti-Muslim voices in the otherwise saner Europe. An honourable exception is Germany, where the Chancellor Merkel has openly said that ‘Islam belongs in Germany.’ By and large the Germans have welcomed the Muslim Syrian refugees. But the anti-Muslim PEGIDA organization has in the recent past organized anti-Muslim rallies and denounced Muslim immigration. But, to hit the nail of truth squarely on the head, the sensible Germans outnumber the hate mongers by ten-fold. There has been a beeline of Afghan and Iranian Muslims to a church in Berlin to reportedly leave the Islamic fold and embrace Christianity. Many see this as an attempt to get German visa and stay back permanently in Germany.
The drowning of the 3-year old Syrian Aylan was dubbed as ‘humanity washed ashore’ on the social media. This shocking incident did not move the powers that be in Europe and Australia. Slovakia is willing to take in 200 refugees if only they are devout Church-going Christians. It has denied entry to Muslim Syrians saying that it does not have a mosque and the Muslims would not be able to adjust to the Slovak culture. In the Slovakian capital Brastilava, there have been large demonstrations against – ‘Islamization of Europe’. Czech Republic has agreed to shelter 70 Christian families. Poland at the initiative of a non-governmental organization Estera has decided to provide refugee status to 50 Christian families and keep the Muslims out. The head of Estera Miriam Shaded has expressed fears that, the non-Christian (read Muslim) refugees can be a threat to Poland, stressing that it is a great way for ISIS to locate their troops all around Europe. And if these people are not ISIS representatives, in Syria their lives are not in danger. “So, then it is labour migration. If they are Muslims, they will not be killed because they believe in the same as ISIS,’ Miriam added.
The Interior Minister of Cyprus Socratis Hasikos told Radio Cyprus: ‘‘Cyprus is willing to take 300 Christian refugees. We would seek for them to be orthodox Christians. If we say honestly, that will be our choice.’’ The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has cautioned that the Christian culture of Europe will be endangered because of the refugees.
Australia is no different when it comes to discrimination against Syrian Muslims. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is under increasing pressure to turn away the Muslim Syrian refugees and take the Christian ones and the minority Yazidis on a priority basis. Australian ministers like Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop are lobbying for Christian refugees. Turnbull expressed his concern about the Christians from Syria and said that they survived in Syria for thousands of years. But, in an increasingly sectarian Middle East, you have to ask whether the gaps, the spaces that they were able to live and survive in will any longer be available. Senate leader Eric Abetz highlighted the case for Christians to be prioritized. ‘‘It should be on the basis of need and given that the Christians are the most persecuted group in the world and specially in the Middle East. I think it stands to reason that they would be pretty high up on the priority list for resettlement’’ exclaimed Eric. The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: ’‘I think that Christian minorities are being persecuted in Syria and even if the conflict were over they would still be persecuted.’’ But the opposition Labour Party’s stand is different and it has joined the refugee groups in warning that the Australian Government’s emphasis on helping Christian refugees is ‘dangerous.’ ‘‘Being a victim of war doesn’t know a particular religion,’’ said opposition leader Bill Shorten.
The Australian Government’s position on the exclusion of Muslim refugees and according priority to Christian refugees has sent shock waves among the Muslim community in Australia. The Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed stated that the calls for Christians to be given priority among the Syrian refugees are discriminatory.
[symple_box color=”white”] Muslims are always going to be vilified in the Australian community. Choosing the refugees based on their religion or ethnicity are the very kind of sectarian thinking that got Iraq and Syria into the problems they are facing now. When it comes to catastrophes such as these should be prioritizing human beings rather than prioritizing a particular religion—Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, Grand Mufti of Australia.[/symple_box]
Germany is providing $8 billion for the refugees. Turkey has been hosting the Syrian refugees for a long time. It seems it has stretched its economic limits. Turkey has been busy erecting a wall at the border to stop the flow of refugees. According to the award winning brave female Syrian journalist Zaina Erhaim, Turkey has started firing at the refugees. In a tweet on 7th September 2015 @ZainaErhaim said: ‘‘Citizen jour. Yasser Tarraf was shot n his leg by Turkish police while trying 2 go back 2 #Syria. All crossings r closed by # Turkey since Mar.’’
It is not just Bashar Al Assad’s government, ISIS or the police or the military of those countries trying to hit back the refugees to stop them from entering their borders but also there are psychopaths masquerading as journalists who are attacking the refugees physically. In a shocking incident on the Serbian border, a Hungarian camera woman Petra Laszlo, working for the N1TV, deliberately tripped a Syrian refugee carrying a child. The refugee was running away from the police at the Serbian border. Petra was sacked by N1TV.