With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris causing fear and disbelief throughout the world, refugees in Europe are in particular danger for being attacked by protesters. Indeed, anti-refugee violence is said to be a very serious concern across the entire European Union. Security forces have already been placed at areas designed to accommodate refugees in order to prevent an outbreak of violence.
Officials believe that refugees might be unfairly targeted by protesters. The vast majority of refugees in Europe fled the Middle East in order to escape violence in their home countries. They have nothing to do with terrorist organizations or any recent terrorist attacks. They should not be held responsible for the actions of others. That being said, many people are looking for someone to blame in the wake of the tragedy.
The situation is very similar to what occurred in the United States following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many Americans unfairly targeted Muslims who were completely unrelated to the devastating attacks that took place. It is very likely that a similar situation will take place in Europe.
More than half a million people have fled the Middle East in search of asylum in European countries. Even before the recent terrorist attacks, many Europeans were growing uneasy with the massive influx of refugees. Now, the most recent attacks could very well serve as a tipping point. It is probable that many of the refugees will be unfairly compared to terrorists.
There have already been reports that some of the people responsible for the terrorist attacks came to Europe by sea, just like the thousands of other refugees. This will only add fuel to the fire. Just a handful of extremist individuals are making the thousands of other refugees look bad.
One Italian newspaper called Libero ran a story with the headline “Islamic Bastards” on Saturday morning. This shows that refugees and Muslims are already being unjustly blamed. Because of the work of a very tiny minority, a massive group of innocent people are being lumped in together. Associating the refugee crisis with terrorist activity is likely to become even more commonplace in the coming weeks.
With Paris and the rest of the world vulnerable and incredibly fearful at this sensitive point in time, it’s no surprise that people would lash out against innocent groups who are doing nothing more than trying to escape violence. Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s right. A small group of bad people shouldn’t ruin the image of thousands of innocent bystanders.
And now, European authorities are acknowledging that Middle Eastern refugees are at a very serious risk for violence. The Italian Director of Immigration and Border Control Giovanni Pinto said, “It is increasingly difficult to not just provide basic comforts, but to actually protect them from angry citizens. Many Europeans group all Muslims in one category. The problem is exacerbated by terror attacks like the one in Paris.”
Refugee camps in Europe have already been attacked. Protesters have set prayer rooms on fire, and people are handing out anti-Islam propaganda. Despite security forces stepping up their efforts, protestors and mis-informed activists often still find a way to commit violent acts.
In Italy, the leader of the far-right anti-terrorist group Northern League Matteo Salvini recently wrote on his Facebook page, “The throat cutters and Islamic terrorists should be eliminated with force!”
Meanwhile, French politician and anti-immigration activist Marine Le Pen recently said, “Whatever the European Union says, it is necessary that France recovers the power over her national borders forever. Without borders there is no protection nor security possible. France must ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques and expel foreigners who preach hatred in our country as well as illegal migrants who have nothing to do here.”
Other countries are sending similar messages. In Poland, newly elected European Affairs commissioner Konrad Szymanski said that the country would no lower accept incoming refugees without security clearance in light of the Paris attacks.
Szymanski said, “The attacks mean the necessity of an even deeper revision of the European policy towards the migrant crisis. We’ll accept them if we have security guarantees. This is a key condition, and today a question mark has been put next to it all around Europe.”
Germany, a very popular spot for refugees seeking asylum, has increased its security around refugee camps. The camps are starting to become heavily targeted by anti-immigration protesters. Just over the last weekend, German police had to drive away a group of angry protesters who were threatening refugees with violence.
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has tried to remind citizens not to unfairly judge refugees for the acts of others. He reminded everyone that the overwhelming majority of migrants are escaping terrorism, not causing it.
De Maiziere said, “I’d like to appeal urgently that no one rush to make a connection with the refugee situation. How we deal with the refugee crisis shouldn’t be linked in any way to how we deal with terrorism.”
Even though Europe is facing a scary situation, Europeans must remember that most Muslims and most refugees are not bad people, and they aren’t linked to terrorism. Just because a small group committed horrific actions doesn’t mean that others should pay the price.