Holocaust survivor Hungarian Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz says Muslims are flooding, occupying and destroying Europe
Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy, has become a global icon for the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. The great exodus goes on — unabated — with deaths mounting at both sea and surface routes. Nearly a dozen refugees have died in just two months this summer escaping from the horrid “jungle” — the Calais refugee camp.
Marine Le Pen of the French National Front compared the tsunami of refugees to the invasion of Rome by barbarians. Harbouring anti-refugee sentiments, the mayor of Roanne Yves Nicolin, from Nicolas Sarkozy’s Les Republicains party, is “only willing to accept Christian asylum-seekers”.
Austria’s conservative Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache wants to “give preferential treatment to Christian refugees over Muslims to protect what he calls Austria’s Western character”.
“Finland’s no good” is the rallying cry of those few who have somehow managed to sneak through the Hungarian, Serbian and Croatian border controls. Yet, Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipila has offered his own residence to refugees.
Across eastern Europe, the refugee influx is seen as a security threat. In the Czech Republic, police have been taking refugees off trains, detaining them and in one case, even writing numbers on their arms; in Slovakia, the government has said it would accept only Christian refugees.
In Bulgaria, where, in the aftermath of centuries of Ottoman rule, some 13 per cent of the population is still Muslim, the Orthodox Church believes “this is a wave that looks like an invasion”.
Enter Romania. A simple billboard at the Romanian border says it all: Syrian Muslim Asylum Seekers: “There is no work, no money, no hospitals, and no schools for you. Go Home!”
The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban took an unyielding stance as he built an $80 million razor fence at the border. Refugees encountered tear gas and spray canons, rubber bullets, flares, net guns and stun grenades blocking their northward movement.
Orban says, “Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture … Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.”
Criticising Orban’s plan, the Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros has said that it “subordinates the human rights of asylum-seekers and refugees to the security of border”.
Oblivious of his own experience as a Holocaust survivor, another Hungarian, Imre Kertesz, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature, has furiously opposed the mass arrival of Muslim refugees: “Muslims are flooding, occupying, in no uncertain terms, destroying Europe.”
A Polish entrepreneur, Moti Zisser has a shocking warning for Muslims: “I think another Holocaust is brewing in Europe … The new demon in Europe is the Muslims.”
The contradictory narrative on refugees is slowly changing. German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a bold initiative in according a hearty welcome to refugees. The replacement of the aging European workforce by refugees is cited as a strong incentive for her pro-refugee policies.
Unlike Hungary and other eastern European states, Italy too has been forthcoming in assisting and admitting waves of refugees.
Brazil has already offered humanitarian visas to nearly 8,000 Syrian refugees. According to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, “After all, a country where more than 10 million of its citizens are of Syrian and Lebanese descent cannot do otherwise.”
The neighbouring Muslim countries have been sheltering some four million refugees. Turkey, for instance, has been hosting the largest number of refugees totaling nearly 1.8 million, with 1.2 million in Lebanon, over half-a-million in Jordan, followed by 250,000 in Iraq and 133,000 in Egypt.
However, five of the wealthiest Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE have flatly refused to take a single Muslim refugee citing “security threats”. Saudi Arabia, instead of any financial commitment for refugees, offered to build 200 mosques across Europe! Merkel’s political ally instantly rebuked it. At the same time, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on the adoption of Syrian and Iraqi war orphans by Saudi citizens — surgically isolating Muslim Arab refugees and their progeny from the Arab heartland with an eagerness to dump them on European shores.
Malaysia has agreed to take in 3,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years, but with a strange twist saying, “Humanitarian reasons and not Islam lay behind the federal government’s decision.” Is Islam devoid of humanitarian concerns? Aren’t both Syria and Malaysia regarded as Muslim-majority countries?
Already, Muslim sectarianism in Britain is on the rise and “threatens to spill over into violent crime and terrorism … Ill-feeling is being stoked by vitriolic preachers on both sides of the divide — and incidents such as assaults, attacks on buildings and intimidation online.”
Then there is the rape epidemic. Rape, forced prostitution and child abuse are common in refugee camps: a social worker at a Bavarian shelter called it “the biggest brothel in Munich”.
Largely unnoticed by the media, the unaccompanied refugee children are facing incredible challenges in their struggle for survival.
The current refugee crisis may have been accurately predicted nearly 42 years ago by a French writer, Jean Raspail, as a metaphor for the death of Europe. In his fictional work, The Camp of the Saints, (Le Camp des Saints, 1973), Raspail wrote that “The proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, irretrievably to extinction in the century to come, if we hold fast to our present moral principles.”
Much of what Raspail wrote is echoed in the contemporary anti-refugee narrative. Raspail’s religiously-inspired thoughts, aversion to other races and pathological altruism are at once viewed as moral imperialism as well as moral failure. The demise of multiculturalism, with the attendant bars to free speech is responsible for the emerging diabolical situation.
The demographic upheaval, testing the limits of tolerance and accommodation, is creating uncertainties about integration and assimilation. The promise of greater economic prosperity seems to be overridden by religious sentiments and an ever-greater assertion of the Christian identity. The social dissonance caused by a multitude of factors such as radicalisation, dress code for women, ritual slaughter, religiously-sanctioned food, honour killing, female genital mutilation, and intra-Muslim and sectarian conflicts are seen as big flash points.
The European Union (EU) faces a serious dilemma. A ‘fair’ distribution of refugees, the cost of hosting, modalities of integration, or even providing transit routes to inbound human traffic are some intensely debated issues. Left unattended, the EU is likely to face a catastrophic future on these fronts where demography would come to dictate cultural discourse.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.
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