Cologne & the Cultural Divide
January 21, 2016 § 1 Comment
With the assaults on German women on New Year’s Eve many find themselves questioning the policy of accepting refugees and migrants. Others are patting themselves on the back for having predicted such occurrences. And what was once lurking beneath the surface has finally broken through: the cultural divide between Europe and the Middle East.
Nobody is surely naive enough to believe that the integration of one million refugees, hailing from war torn regions and cultures vastly different from ours, would occur seamlessly. ‘The moral imperative has not changed since Aylan washed up on that beach.’ (The Economist, 16th January 2016, p. 11). I wholeheartedly and strongly agree with this. The recent attacks do not undermine or devalue the moral grounds on which refugees were accepted. But what has become abundantly clear is the need to reinforce the following: European nations are pluralist, secularist democracies. For those wishing to settle here this must be accepted and complied with. It is as a result of tribalism and sectarianism that the Middle East has been plunged into civil war. For Europeans it would be foolish and condescending to assume that democracy and egalitarianism are entirely foreign to the peoples of the Middle East. The demonstrations and uprisings, collectively referred to as the Arab Spring, were aimed at toppling corrupt, autocratic, repressive regimes. There are very few to whom the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity are unacceptable.
That sexism and intolerance exist in Iraq, Syria, and Morocco is a fact; and that they are present amongst some of the asylum seekers was proven in Cologne. But to turn the cold shoulder on thousands and hundreds of thousands fleeing famine and war would be shameful. Equally reprehensible is the attitude of most European nations to stand back and let magnanimous nations such as Germany and Sweden bear the brunt of this crisis.
Migrant men and European women (2016, January 16th). The Economist. p. 11.