Reports on the influx of refugees into Europe have recently become common, leading to growing hostility by Europeans toward these refugees. Some European nations have begun developing techniques and measures to manage and prevent more of these people entering their borders.
The radical right-wing parties in Europe have also benefited from the influx of refugees, gaining much support with their drastic plans to curb the tide. It would appear that many Europeans are fed up with handling the problems that flow into their nations along with these fleeing Middle Eastern and African refugees. Notably, southern France has a prominent North African population which has sought prospects for a better life. However, the question that should be posed is whether or not the behaviour being exhibited towards these refugees is in fact contributing to their radicalization, and consequently, contributing to terrorist activity?
The Arab Spring, which started in 2011, was a revolutionary step in the Middle East toward achieving basic human rights for all. Rights like free speech and suffrage, which we take for granted, appeared to be within reach. During these uprisings some regimes were toppled in part due to the supply of weaponry to rebel groups. Even though successes were had in places like Tunisia (which is still debatable, but I will address that in a later article), other places, notably Syria, saw a long and brutal civil war come about. Bashir al-Assad is still in charge and millions of casualties are scattered all over the region. Even today we see the effects of this war, with towns suffering from famine and hospitals filled to the brim.
This series of wars created a split in each population which can be categorized into three groups:
- The government and its supporters,
- The rebels and their supporters, including some more radical groups, and
- The unaffiliated civilians.
Those in the third group tend to make up the majority of the refugees being driven out of their homes by the regime and the opposition. These people do not have a choice to stay or not, and we tend to forget this. It would be lovely if they could sit and have a cup of tea in their houses until the political turmoil is over, but, clearly, they can’t. They are forced out and into other countries, suffering under great hardships and conditions which any ordinary person would not even have to consider.
To travel thousands of kilometres on foot or in small, overcrowded boats which tend to have a greater possibility of capsizing than reaching the shore, is no small feat. It is worse still when they are greeted by a hostile local population. Make no mistake, the refugees know of this hostility, which shows all the more their desperation to get out of their dire circumstances. Those who travel to Europe represent a minority of refugees, with a greater number moving into neighbouring countries like Jordan.
The only way this problem can be solved is by operating from the point of departure that refugees are not necessarily a threat to state security. These individuals are only radicalized and resort to terrorist activities when they believe no other options are available to them, such as in France, where 60% of radical criminals have previously spent time in prison. This statistic may seem insignificant, but one must understand that the crime that has been committed is irrelevant; when you leave prison you are branded, get a scarlet letter, and have continuous trouble from thereon in getting employed.
As much as working at the local McDonald’s appears exhilarating, it does not cover the cost of supporting a family. This is not even taking into consideration the fact that the majority of the local population won’t employ refugees simply because of the stigma.
This is partly why these people resort to terrorism or some form of radicalization. Terrorist networks provide them with jobs, money, and most importantly, acceptance. As long as the local populations fail to recognize these refugees as fellow individual human beings, we will end up having more and more radicalization on our hands, which in turn fuels the hostility toward refugees, and them then resorting to terror. It’s an endless cycle.
I believe it would be a good idea for us to start buying life insurance for some terrorists, because as long as the hostility remains, it would be easy for us to see terror attacks escalate across Europe. Terrorism is, after all, a constant which we must account for. But the behaviour of refugees is something that should not be accounted for in the same vein as that of terrorists. In my second article I will be explaining the advantages of having these refugees in Europe.