Tuesday 21 November 2017

Merkel's refugee crisis plea could fall on deaf ears in Europe

A refugee seeks help for an ill child in Hungary yesterday
A refugee seeks help for an ill child in Hungary yesterday
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

After a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her strongest support yet for a defined and unified refugee policy. She said: "I've rarely held such an innermost conviction that this is a task that will decide whether Europe is accepted as a continent of values". Mr Loefven reflected on the sentiment by saying "our responsibility is deeply moral. It is a human responsibility". (Irish Independent, September 9).

It appears that the most powerful European politicians are finally starting to view the refugee crisis from a humanitarian rather than narrow nationalist perspective. There are, however, exceptions like Viktor Orban and Robert Fico, the prime ministers of Hungary and Slovakia, who insist if they are going to allow refugees in, then they must be Christian.

This type of eurocentric nationalism reflects the political ethos that preceded the Evian Conference of 1938, a gathering of nations summoned by Franklin D Roosevelt to address the Jewish refugee crisis precipitated by the virulent anti-Semitism of National Socialism. Despite platitudes about the moral injustice of Jewish persecution, country after country, including Ireland, used exactly the same economic and assimilation arguments to refuse entry to Jewish refugees that Orban and Fico use to justify a rejection of contemporary Muslim refugees.

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