Following the ban on minarets in Switzerland and then the ban on wearing veils that cover the face in public areas in France, Europe has started to sink into an artificial and ambiguous policy of fear marked by an oppressive mentality. Other EU countries are considering introducing similar bans. The direful ruckus behind this paranoia does not befit Europe at all. The way the union is headed is embarrassing those who say Europe’s biggest achievements are its trans-border interaction with creative energies in the world regardless of their origins and the deep respect it has for every choice. Didn’t several European countries implement social responsibility programs to foster absolute global development? What is the reason behind the Matra Program, which is still being implemented by the government in the Netherlands?
However, in a manner that has caused all these points to be instantly forgotten, Europe is starting to look more and more like a fortress that is raising its walls a little higher every day out of a fear of people who are being pointed to as enemies on the pretense that they have come to take away Europe’s security, prosperity, freedom, culture and future. Everything that is foreign is being alienated and demonized. Due to this artificial perception of enemy occupation, Europe is recalling its dark heritage and becoming more closed.
Immigrants are not a Trojan horse
The rising oppressive mentality in Europe and the loss of value in democracy is most tangibly visible in the plight of immigrants and refugees. There is a growing trend in EU countries to develop a perception about immigrants and refugees on the basis of security. Immigrants and refugees are becoming increasingly more restricted to the security circle. This is ironic because concern over security is the main reason why immigrants and refugees leave their countries in the first place. This perception lays the foundation to legitimize some of the West’s discriminatory practices that immigrants and refugees, who are treated like “demographic time bombs,” are subjected to. Defending the introduction of prohibitions against those who threaten the system evokes the view that in the back of their minds they want to “protect the border of their nation-states against a secret war.” In this respect, the laws are actually a legal weapon. Against whom? Against immigrants and refugees who are actually intruding Trojan horses. This has no logical basis as there is nothing that can be occupied or conquered, anyway.
It is at this point where we have to turn to the other side. Immigrants have not been able to show their willingness to contribute to the development of the country they are in and to integrate and become a part of society as a whole. Instead of taking the easy way out and staying on the defensive as if ready to fight due to the discrimination and biased attitude Western people have towards them, they need to be aware of their responsibilities to the extent that they are aware of their rights and show the indigenous society how essential they are.
It’s also important to note that Europe’s security concern regarding immigrants and immigration is not completely unfair. It is evident that there is some merit in their arguments that cause security concerns. These are critical obstacles to eliminating the security concerns regarding immigration. For instance, international terrorist organizations try to take advantage of immigration and asylum seeking to infiltrate into the West and carry out their actions. Take, for example, members of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda members who infiltrated into Europe, including England and the US by using immigration and refugee procedures, are “sleeping” passive activists who don’t draw attention to themselves and are on standby for instruction. But generalizing this to all immigrants and refugees is an exaggeration and a challenge.
Europe still inspiration for democracy
In the face of how Europe is headed, everyone, including opinion leaders and sensible intellectuals who want freedom, equality and democracy to be ensured all the time and under every condition, need to work hard to make sure the same values are upheld in Europe. Europeans need to look at their past and return to the basics while their libertarian structure needs to be revived.
Additionally, the notion of a Europe that has become blinded by prejudice and constantly appeals to security due to its fear and paranoia is not limited to just the continent. Europe is still an inspiration for democracy for countries that want to become more liberal and is a continent that includes the most sincere countries with respect to global responsibility such as Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Europe is still at a point where it can mend its ways. There are still several reasons to be optimistic and hopeful. That is so because Europe is still the place where people are allowed to express their ideas freely and where the voice of civil society is always heard. Besides, the EU has not abandoned the circle of values that it takes pride in. In conclusion, democracy and social justice suit Europe better than fear and prejudice.
Recep Korkut is a social worker and a writer who has written articles about minorities, migration, refugees and international problems. firstname.lastname@example.org.