Racism threatening European values
While new attacks and cease-fires are being discussed in the Middle East, a dirty war in which hospitals and residential areas are being bombed and civilians are mercilessly slaughtered, is raging on unabated. Flood of refugees from Syria is continuing and these people who want to save their lives are facing even more difficulties. The problem of refugees, to whom Europe has closed its doors and for which Turkey is now assuming sole responsibility, has shown the world that is failing the “humanity” test. The United Nations and the European Union may have adopted the policy of pushing their responsibility toward Turkey by saying, “We will not admit them, nor help, nor give you any money, but you must open your doors to them all,” but history will never forget this.
I have discussed the refugee problem many times in this column, and will continue to do so. The issue under scrutiny in today’s column is another major problem that emerges together with that of the refuges - racism. One wonders whether this problem that is increasingly raising its head in Europe is causing more harm to the refugees, or to Europe itself.
The electoral victory of the National Front in France last year showed how much stronger the rising new trend of racism in Europe had become. The system of ideas that led the way to racism and Islamophobia in particular has found a new sphere to operate inside Europe; the reaction to the refugees suits the purpose of some political groupings.
The situation is not restricted to France. According to Pew Research Center’s polls conducted in November 2015 in seven EU countries, the aversion to minorities focused mostly on Romans, Muslims and Jews. This trend is particularly visible in right leaning countries like Greece, Italy and Poland. Furthermore, the politicians from this spectrum of the political arena are increasingly adopting a hostile tone. For instance, the words of Danish People’s Party MP Soren Espersen, “Let’s bomb women and children” where Daesh is located, make the situation very clear.
This situation exacerbated the racist tendencies in certain European countries. The racist propaganda by some rightist movements in Europe has come close to being considered legal these days. A German citizen who talked to Sputniknews claims that German police tolerates racist rallies and is unnecessarily strict with foreigners.
“Normally, in Germany, a police officer never allows any rally even if it consists of 20 or a thousand people. Therefore, he mobilizes city’s entire constabulary for this. But, such occasions do not occur in racist or radical right movements. Those people organize marches reminiscent of the Nazi marches with torches before World War II. Police only watches those unlawful marches. Migrants’ camps are being burned...”
Ozan Ceyhun, who served as an MEP during the European Parliament’s 4th and 5th terms, says that prejudices toward Muslims and refugees have led to more than 100 seats in the parliament being occupied by anti-Islamic and racist politicians. Ceyhun also says that these prejudices are really harming, not Muslims or refugees, but the democracy of the EU itself. He goes on to say, “We constantly see the harm that a racist policy does to European democracy in elections. As centralist parties melt away, the extreme right or racist forces grow ever stronger.”
The real problem for Europe is there is a prevailing silence in the face of these racist policies. The racist mindset that has grown up in Europe in 2015 because of the prevailing silence does not seem likely to be cured in 2016.
This growing hostility toward foreigners, refugees and especially Muslims, has now become a divisive factor in the European societies. Most people are unhappy and uncomfortable in European countries, and have lost their sense of connection and solidarity to a large extent. The fact that Europe, a beautiful example of civilization, is now in this situation, can easily drive the already suffering world into a bigger disaster. The growing racist tendencies in Europe may harm the continent itself and its democracy.
Furthermore, it shouldn't be forgotten that every hateful speech provides more of the hateful background the violence-mongers seek. The proponents of racist rhetoric in Europe shouldn’t forget that such a tone would draw more terrorism in, rather than curbing it. A cruel rhetoric is like food to terrorists’ philosophy and will always usher in more terrorism. It will incite violence, and it is clear that such a trend can never end in peace and happiness, on the contrary, will always conclude in fear and an ever-increasing rage.
As a result of such actions, peaceful minorities, too, can grow angry and riots may be triggered. It is a known fact that mass psychology can dangerously trigger atmospheres where people get violent. Therefore a policy of provocation is highly dangerous.
We would never want Europe to be left dealing with this horrible scene. For this reason, it is crucial that European people and politicians make decisions within themselves to prevent terrorism. They should keep in mind that terror will not end with hostility toward Muslims or foreigners; on the contrary such an attitude will cause resentment in peaceful Muslims and foreigners in the country, as well creating widespread discomfort across the society. Hatred coming from one party will fall short when no response comes from the other party. Europeans, who have been the pioneers of civilization for years, have achieved this many times throughout the history. They should have the same civilized approach when terrorism is in question and prevent the escalation of the policy of hatred before it’s too late. (Picture: D.Khamissy / European Commission DG ECHO)