Since news of assaults on women in Cologne and Sweden surfaced, it feels like open season on refugees and migrants. We seem to be witnessing a Europe-wide spasm of self-doubt, a cold shower of realism after the warm righteousness of hospitality.
In Germany, New Year’s Eve celebrations turned nasty as up to 40 incidents of sexual assault, many by Arab or north African migrants, were reported. And in Sweden, attacks on women were undeclared by authorities allegedly because the perpetrators were immigrant men, reportedly of Afghan origin.
The pendulum is abruptly swinging back towards closed borders and punitive measures against those who have already been let in. Suddenly it seems acceptable for even liberals to ask whether women’s rights and immigration are compatible.
Let us pause here for a moment and consider what that means: immigrants of a vaguely Middle Eastern or Asian character are being catalogued as threatening to women’s rights, liberal values, and the social cohesion of Europe.
The problem lies in the tenor of the conversation that preceded news of these assaults. It was either naively optimistic – Europe cast as the liberal superpower embracing needy refugees in a bear hug of humanitarianism; or apocalyptic – swarms of migrants, traumatised, damaged and of inferior cultural stock would place an intolerable burden on the state and then literally assault their hosts.
The first does not acknowledge the profound cultural and economic implications of admitting a large number of people from very different societies, while the latter refuses to accept the moral duty to offer refuge or the fact that not all migrants are bad people.
The balance is somewhere in between. Is it Europe’s moral duty to take in asylum seekers and refugees? Yes. Do most migrants go around in big groups groping and raping women? No. Among them will there be some who are economically deprived, culturally incompatible or downright criminal? Absolutely. It is hard to believe that among the thousands of Syrians who have entered Europe, not a single member of Bashar al-Assad’s vigilantes slipped through.
The focus instead should broadly be on two things: in the short term, tackling the logistics of the influx by, for instance, enhancing policing and punishing those who transgress; and in the long term, developing clear integration policies with political backing and funding. This can all be done while acknowledging that people might have legitimate concerns about criminal behaviour or even just general cultural dilution, where the character of their town or neighbourhood changes dramatically in a short time.
Pour lire la suite : http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/14/migrant-bogeyman-europe-mood-refugees