Now is the time to show solidarity with refugees fleeing from terrorism and tyranny

Ian Birrell writes: we share common cause with most refugees flooding to Europe from Iraq and Syria, who are driven by desire to share our freedoms after jihadis helped devastate their homelands. Those terrible events in France happen almost daily in Iraq and Syria, which is why families risk their lives to get on boats across the Mediterranean (although death is more likely to come from the Syrian regime some westerners suddenly seek to aid). The refugees I have met in Germany, Greece and Italy this year loathe Isis with bitter intensity – and the feeling is mutual, since the fanatics dislike those leaving their domain for undermining their proclamations of a paradisiacal caliphate.

There are justified, if regrettable, questions over the future of the Schengen area. But those calling for Europe to shut exterior borders and reject refugees should ask why people board lethal and overloaded boats. European Union borders are closed already, but desperate people resort to desperate measures. Shut off one route and another opens up; the only change is that those running from torture, war and repressionwill be fleeced still further by smugglers, and forced to take even more dangerous journeys. This can be seen already with the sinking of boats used to carry refugees; trafficking gangs simply switched to older, less seaworthy vessels and overcrowded inflatables.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, is right to say that if one attacker arrived masquerading as an asylum seeker then he is “a criminal and not a refugee”. None of the 750,000 refugees admitted to the United States since 9/11 have been arrested on domestic terror charges. But isolationists and misanthropes in Europe and north America are using the Paris massacres to argue against offering sanctuary. Such is the Orwellian nature of debate, some say a British government that sought to end support for rescue missions to pull drowning people from the sea is more compassionate than a German government struggling to offer sanctuary to huge numbers of refugees. [Continue reading…]

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