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When a photograph depicting the corpse of young boy washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean emerged last week, the world was shocked and appalled. Unlike any image before it, the photo has galvanised a massive humanitarian response, some of it deeply moving and morally impressive, from Iceland to Poland, Britain to Greece. Money is being thrown aimlessly into the air. Shelter is being offered across the continent. EU governments, including formerly hard-line and conservative regimes, are now yielding to public pressure for greater quotas of asylum seekers for their respective nations.
When emotion shouts in this way, wisdom struggles to be heard. Questions of a more cynical, less humanitarian nature are in this environment extremely difficult to ask. One risks being accused of ‘heartlessness’, ‘meanness’ or ‘xenophobia’ for casting any doubt, however light, on the official humanitarian narrative. But cast it we must.
Here are 3 questions that must be answered, however difficult and cynical they may – in the shouting short term – be considered.
1. Are the majority of ‘refugees’ actually refugees?
This is obviously the most important question at this juncture. Do the ‘refugees’ pouring into Europe deserve the label, or are they simply opportunists seeking a better material outlook for their family? While it is impossible to give a definite answer (one applicable to every different individual case), the information already gathered allows us to at least make a general estimate. Most, if not all, the refugees attempting to reach Europe are actually migrants.
How do we know this? That’s the answer to question 2…
2. Why isn’t Turkey safe enough for them?
The Kurdish child Aylan Kurdi, whose grim fate now dominates every newspaper in the world, did not have to die. He and his family were already safely in Turkey when they chose to shoot for Europe, and since Turkey is perfectly safe and reasonably affluent, Europe has no moral case to answer for his demise. Indeed, while he was been roundly criticised for it, the UKIP member Peter Bucklitsch was brave and entirely correct to place the blame directly on the child’s parents, remarking that had they not been ‘greedy for the good life’, the tragedy could have/would have been averted.
This isn’t actually a complicated matter (or at least it needn’t be). Once a refugee reaches a country of safety, he or she ceases to be a refugee. If that person then chooses to move on in search of a more desirable haven, that person becomes a migrant. It really is that simple.
3. Who is to blame for the crisis?
The answer to this last question is crystal clear. ISIS/Islamic State are to blame. Their cynical and merciless campaign against the people of Syria has sent ripples of destructive chaos across the whole of Eurasia. The everyday suffering in Raqqah and Palmyra is almost too extreme to be imagined. As we luxuriate in our peaceful suburbs, Syrian men, women and children are being enslaved, beheaded, brainwashed, forcibly conscripted, raped and robbed by a psychopathic gang of desert primitives. I fully understand why ordinary people wish to leave the nightmare being constructed. We would all do – or at least, try to do – the same.
But Europe is a not a charity. It is a continent and a civilisation. We have our own problems, our own impoverished masses and our own economic and politic disorders to contend with. In this time of Muslim suffering, the Muslim world must come to its own aid. More than anywhere else, the money-drenched kingdoms of the Arabian Gulf must allow a massively increased quota of migrants into their own territories. If they truly believe in the concept of an Ummah, let them prove it. Let them impress and embarrass the whole world with their brotherly kindness.
And if they do not, the blame is theirs and theirs alone.