Archives for posts with tag: Syrian refugees

‘Europe has never seen such a number of immigrants since the fall of the Roman empire’ and ‘no European country can cope with so many in such a short time’!

I believe you’re already familiar with such headlines, right?

The Greek exodus from Smyrna in Turkey is the seminal event in Tsalikoglou’s haunting novel. Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Greek tragedies: The Secret Sister is a novel about the impossibility of escaping the past.

Let me remind you of some facts.
“Settlement in Greece was not a uniform experience for the approximately one million Ottoman Greeks who fled Turkey in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish war of 1920-1922. Contemporary primary sources ranging from government reports to eyewitness accounts and memoirs of relief workers point to a mixed reality: while some Ottoman Greek refugees enjoyed hospitality and warm support upon arrival in Greece, many others found settlement in the new country a painful experience of material hardship, segregation, and status deprivation. The precarious circumstances of the massive exodus created the refugee drama. The inability of the Greek state to handle a crisis of such magnitude, along with the serious incidents of refugee discrimination and exploitation by Greek officials ans civilians, exacerbated the refugee’s plight.”

Similarly “During the First World War and the subsequent Greco-Turkish War (1920–1922) about 1.2 million Muslims migrated to Turkey, among them the 400,000 persons who were forcibly exchanged as a result of the Treaty of Lausanne.”

So two war torn countries, Greece and Turkey, were able to absorb, without really major problems, about a million refugees each – 17% and 7.5% of the respective populations. Maybe this will give us some perspective. One million refugees represents less than 0.2% of the current population of the EU and less than 1.2% of the population of Germany.

OK, now you’ll tell me that those headed to Greece and Turkey  were going home while these coming to Europe will suffer a cultural shock.
There might be some truth in both assertions, of course. Yet I beg you to read again the quote about the fate of the Greek refugees who ‘came home from Turkey’. In the end they somehow managed to fold in. Same thing happened with the “the (mostly Greek-speaking) Muslim population” that was “compulsory” transferred to Turkey.

So how about we quit whining and start helping these poor people in earnest?

It’s not our responsibility, you say?

Maybe not but how about taking a second glance at history?

The tragedy experienced by the 2 million people exchanged between Turkey and Greece was due, at least in part, to the Treaty of Sevres which was imposed by the Allies to the Ottoman empire and which inspired Kemal Ataturk to raise arms and forge the present day Turkey. Just as the fate experienced now by the Syrian people is influenced not only by Sykes-Picot but also by us dragging our feet while the Assads, both father and son, were massacring their ‘subjects’.

But how about the fate of the Roman Empire that had fallen under the burden of the immigrants?
First of all I must remember you that the Roman Empire had a mixed population to begin with and that the Romans themselves had invited more than one migratory tribe to come in and contribute to the well fare of the empire. For instance the German and Iazyges soldiers that were settled by the Romans in Britain.
Then I must remind you that the western part of the Roman Empire started to crumble only after it had become an extremely authoritarian state, where the rulers were concerned more about fulfilling their obscene pleasures and less with the management of the current problems of the empire. Panem et circenses was their preferred method of governing, if that rings any bells.

The point is that exactly as the protagonists of The Secret Sister cannot escape their history neither of us will be able to escape the consequences of our actions. Or inaction.

And another lesson from the Ancient Times: no wall was ever tall enough to keep out those who really wanted to get in. Neither Hadrian’s nor the Chinese Walls had been able to protect those inside from their own ineptitude.

Photo credit: Akram Abahre. While European countries are being lectured about their failure to take in enough refugees, Saudi Arabia – which has taken in precisely zero migrants – has 100,000 air conditioned tents that can house over 3 million people sitting empty.

Those tents have been erected there precisely for the pilgrims who go there for the Hajj. They are empty now because at this time of the year there are no pilgrims, yet.
If the Saudis were to invite refugees to stay, temporarily, in those tents, they would have to provide for those refugees more stable lodging by the time of the next Hajj.
Integrate them, that is.
And this is the reason for which the Syrians are not at all welcome there, just as the Palestinians were not welcome either. They would upset the balance of power.
Basically the rulers of the Gulf states bribe their citizens with money coming in from the rest of the world while shamelessly exploiting imported workforce, allowed to stay only on temporary visas. The Syrians (and the Palestinians) would have to be accepted on a more permanent basis and offered the option for a full citizenship. That would both dilute the per capita revenue of the citizens and introduce a more liberal line of thought in a very conservative society.
Yes, a more liberal line of thought. The Syrians do not insist that their women cover their faces and have tried, repeatedly, to out-throw the ruling family.
So yes, the wealthy Gulf States are indeed very hypocritical “when it comes to helping with the crisis.” (they have helped create) but that’s no excuse for us to follow their example.
After all it is us who came up with the notions of ‘human rights’ and ‘pursuit of happiness’, didn’t we?

Here in the West we have a ‘healthy’ mistrust in almost everything, including the press.

Yes, some of the media outlets have indeed became manipulative or basically empty of meaning.
We shouldn’t forget though that we, the public, have contributed to this situation. We are the ones who buy/follow this kind of media. And, above all, we allowed them to condition us into following ‘our’ media outlets. When was the last time any of you watched a show or read an article coming from a media outlet which doesn’t belong to ‘your political affiliation’?

Meanwhile out there some brave journalists operate in less than ideal conditions:

Hürriyet’s editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin

“You raided our home at midnight with stones and sticks. You stayed there for hours. You chanted, “You dog Doğan, do not test our patience.” You chanted “Re-cep Tayyip Er-do-ğan” slogans and “God is great.”
There are some people who push a button. There are groups who are ready to act when the button is pushed. How did this happen? Let’s track it step by step.”

To me this just another proof that what is going on in the world right now has very little to do with ‘religion’ per se and almost everything to do with the individuals who manipulate our religious sentiments for their own benefits.

And we let them get away with it. Includingly by pretending that the media is not to be trusted and then believing, indiscriminately, everything that comes out of ‘our’ media outlet (loudspeaker).

Could it be that the raiders were pissed off not only by Hurriyet’s constant criticism towards Erdogan but also by this article?

Why do we bash the West but not Saudi Arabia?

A young Syrian boy, who drowned in his family’s attempt to reach Greece from Turkey, lies in the surf near Bodrum, Turkey

OK, I’m cool with this idea.
I’m convinced that all media outlets have their own agenda and that sometimes some of them publish a lot of bogus.

But where from do we get our information about what is going on in the world? If we don’t watch TV and we don’t listen to the radio? Does any of you still buy anything that was printed?
From the web? As in what our friends share on FB? Or Instagram? Or wherever?
And where do they get their facts from?

What we get is a ‘double selection’.

First of all each of the media outlets does make a selection from what they have at their disposal and publish only what fits their respective policies. Then come our ‘friends’. What we get is what our friends share from what the media thinks that we might be interested in.

The ideal situation would be for the media to do its job – present something with real meaning – and for our friends to conquer their biases and gouge things reasonably.

Is any of us in this ideal situation?

I’m not. Hence I watch the news. Not on a single channel, of course,
And I strive to make good use of my brain, each time.

” “After it capsized, the family clung to the boat. Mr Abdullah tried to hold his two children and wife with his arm, but one by one they were washed away by waves.” “

Was all of this made up? Was it inflated to grab our attention?
I cannot possibly know for sure.
Fact is that a lot of people are trying to flee from the Middle East.

And that’s the real news. Some of us need to see pictures like the one above in order to get it.
Could this possibly be the reason for which the media sometimes ‘jumps the gun’?

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