Communities in Europe and Refugee Resettlement
The Question of Syrian Refugees in Our Communities – Part 2
by Lynda Friesen
This is Part 2 of 3.
In Part 1 we considered issues including the threat of terrorists embedded in the refugee stream and whether American and Sharia-based cultures are sufficiently compatible to live and function together peaceably.
Part 2 continues the examination of important cultural differences and considers why those differences are largely irreconcilable. We’ll also look at the crises across Europe due to worldview clashes between refugees and hosts.
We have seen some of the cultural clashes that are inevitable should refugees be resettled in our communities, even as such clashes are already being experienced across Europe. There are more such serious challenges to consider.
Take, for instance, the issue of child brides, so common in Sharia-based cultures, beginning with their Prophet Muhammed, himself.
The government of Yemen investigated the reported death of an 8-year-old girl from injuries suffered on her wedding night. She had been forced into a marriage to a man in his 40s. Her “older” sister, age 10, is also married. Refugees’ cultural practice of marrying off young girls to much older men has been a trial to European host nations.
As reported in Feb 2016, “Official figures have shown that last year dozens of married child brides arrived as migrants applying for asylum in Norway, with the youngest being just 11 years old.”
Mari Trommald, spokeswoman for the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs, acknowledged the risks faced by the child brides: “We are looking very seriously at children under 18 who are in danger of being subjected to sexual abuse, violence and coercion. We are committed to helping these children and preventing forced situations.”
In the Netherlands, Dutch Labor MP Attje Kuiken told the BBC: “A 12-year-old girl with a 40-year-old-man – that is not a marriage, that is abuse. We’re talking about really young children, girls 12, 13 years old. I want to protect these children. The government should take them into foster care and protect them….”
Spokeswoman for women’s rights Monika Michell notes in her condemnation of child marriage: “Forced marriage is a continuous rape.”
Yet, illustrating this grave clash of cultures, Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh pronounced there is “nothing wrong” with child brides under the age of 15.
Breitbart London reports: “While the youngest married girl seeking asylum in Denmark so far has been 14, other northern European states have seen similar problems, and worse…. It is reported eight married children in Danish asylum centers are already pregnant, or have given birth. The government is now planning to deport migrant men who marry and impregnate children, while giving the girls refuge.”
Now there is a baby involved—the child has had a child—so, in their culture, to separate the underage mother from the father of her child is to separate a family. How will the child-mother provide for herself and her child? Host governments cannot care for these girls forever. Her deported husband is free to get another wife or wives and make a new life. She, however, is not considered marriageable within her culture, since she already has a husband. How will her own friends and family relate to her now? Where are her hopes of ever having a normal life?
Imam Oussama El-Saadi of the Aarhus mosque in Denmark demands that Denmark assimilate to the migrants’ culture and relax their laws to respect migrant families. Speaking to Danish newspaper Metroxpress, the Imam said “They’re married, and even if the man is twice as old as his wife, they have built a family. We have to accept that it is a different culture, and we cannot destroy family life.”
How would we cut this Gordian knot?
How would we protect these young girls forced into marriages to older men, when opposing such coerced arrangements conflicts strongly with the beliefs and practices of the migrants’ culture? A culture wherein women and girls have no rights of their own? Where their very lives might be at stake?
In such cases, whose cultural values are to be given priority?
Never, ever underestimate the challenge of widely divergent cultures being required to interact closely. We’re not talking about different clothing styles or culinary preferences. We’re talking about the very core of a person—their thinking and beliefs about absolutely everything. One’s culture defines their worldview, their expectations of life and understanding of its rules, their attitudes and behaviors, their ideas of right-wrong and normal-abnormal, their beliefs about everyone’s place in society—and how it all inter-relates.
There are things humanity all share, such as the need to give and receive love, the need to be respected, the need to have significance, and so on. But how those needs are characterized or fulfilled or played out in a person’s life is defined by their particular worldview. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because we’re all human on the inside, despite our different clothes and music, that we therefore share the same core beliefs and expectations and sense of right and wrong. And never assume that because an immigrant from a totally different culture wears Western clothing and enjoys burgers and fries that they share your views about how the world should work.
Because a person’s world- and life-view tells them how everything in the cosmos relates to every other thing, and how it is all expected to run, moving to a radically dissimilar culture is like finding oneself in a different universe run by entirely different rules. When this new universe challenges the fundamental conventions of a person’s own culture, which is all they and everyone of their acquaintance have ever known, it threatens the basic assumptions about life that allow the gears of their world to mesh. They are being told the world no longer makes sense. Small wonder immigrants are resistant to overthrowing everything that has defined their lives and relationships in order to assimilate into Western thought and culture, which creates dissonance and chaos for them. (This is especially true if they believe elements of Western culture, e.g., our views on women’s rights, gay rights, or religious freedom, are morally evil.) Whereas they might enjoy some of the benefits the West has to offer, they strongly resist cultural assimilation. This is a setup for relentless friction and disputes which preclude harmonious coexistence.
The greater the differences in culture and worldview between two people groups, the greater the inevitable clashes. This is why viewing Middle Eastern immigrants to the US the same as we view Canadian or Western European immigrants serves no purpose. The question is not whether we accept people from other countries. The question is whether our cultures are sufficiently compatible to live and function together peaceably.
5. Disregarding the obvious: It would be criminally negligent to ignore or minimize what is happening all over Europe as refugees are overwhelming their host nations. This is the best demonstration we could possibly have of what is in store for the US if we open our doors as Europe has done. Nearly every nation that has taken in refugees speaks of the threat to the social stability of the host nation their presence has created. Europeans are cautioning the US not to repeat their mistakes. Would we be wise to investigate the warnings of those with experience in what we are now contemplating?
Note that these conflicts assail normal, peaceful, everyday life in host communities and are in addition to potential terrorist threats from radicalized immigrants.
It’s irresponsible to take a position on the issue of refugee resettlement without having done one’s own careful research. Do you truly know what is transpiring in France, the UK, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Hungary, Denmark, and so on? The upheaval is far greater than can be covered here. You must do your own digging, as mainstream media give scarce coverage to these stories, or misrepresent them out of political correctness (e.g., reporting rapes and other violence, but failing to reveal the perpetrators are refugees).
The large numbers of refugees in Europe was a persistent theme of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Europe was close to the breaking point. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned the refugee crisis is destabilizing Europe. Valls told the BBC Europe needed to take urgent action to control its external borders, “otherwise, our societies will be totally destabilized,” adding that the very concept of Europe is in jeopardy.
Speaking to the Munich Security Conference several days ago, Secretary of State John Kerry reflected an entirely different perspective from what President Obama has maintained. According to the State Department’s transcript of his remarks, Kerry acknowledged that the refugee situation is a threat to the very existence of the politics and fabric of life in Europe.
Sweden and Finland have recently announced plans to deport tens of thousands of refugees. Denmark is running ads in Middle Eastern papers telling refugees they are unwelcome in Denmark. These are nations of good, generous people who have been driven to these measures due to cultural clashes. They have reached the tipping point where this action is essential to the preservation of their own society and culture.
Many European nations now speak disturbingly of the “rape culture” that terrifies and plagues them; that there are no-go zones within their own cities—where even the police do not venture—which are ruled by Sharia law and enforced by Islamic brutality; that homosexuals and transgenders are violently attacked, and so on.
In a televised interview last month, Czech President Milos Zeman observed, “The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible.”
According to a German newspaper, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing an audience of 20,000 in Germany, told immigrants living in Europe that they do not need to assimilate into their host societies. “I understand very well that you are against assimilation. One cannot expect you to assimilate,” Erdogan told the crowd. He said, “Assimilation is a crime against humanity.”
Why is this the case? Why the fundamental tension between the two cultures, that they cannot successfully integrate in one society? The answer is not surprising to those who have been paying attention to facts rather than what passes for political correctness. The European Court of Human Rights determined that “Sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy.” In agreement, the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that “Democracy is the antithesis of Sharia.” Both the West and Sharia-based nations agree that the foundations of the two cultures represent irreconcilable differences. This is a guarantee of continual, perhaps escalating, strife between the two systems of belief, as we are now seeing across Europe.
France’s own culture is being transformed as they are crushed by the needs and cultural demands of refugees. In what some are calling an act of national suicide, they continue to accept more—despite the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Despite three days of murderous rampage a year ago after Charlie Hebdo magazine published satirical cartoons of Muhammed. Despite the fact that the majority of the French public are against accepting more refugees. And despite the fact that France is now forced to such extremes as housing the newcomers in shipping containers.
On 9 January 2016 there was a demonstration in Cologne, Germany, protesting reportedly 500 organized sexual assaults by “Rapefugees” (their term) in their city a few nights earlier, on New Year’s Eve. Read it again: Organized. Sexual assaults. Five hundred victims. In one city. In one night. By one identifiable group. What sort of lasting trauma do these attacks inflict on the victims and on that entire community? Will women and girls, and those that care about them, ever again be free of fear as they move about their own neighborhoods? Of note, prominent Muslim imam Sami Abu-Yusuf told reporters women were to blame in the Cologne attacks because they “dress half naked and wear perfume.”
To help Middle Eastern immigrants understand how Germany’s culture differs from theirs, and what the rules are in their host country, Germany prepared and disseminated cartoon booklets. The booklets feature illustrations discouraging the groping of women and the beating of children—one’s own or someone else’s—as well as promoting the acceptance of gay couples.
(N.B.: Regardless of where one stands on the issue of gay rights, readers of this commentary would agree that all people have the right to be treated with dignity and to be safe from assault. That is the point of this conversation.)
It’s perhaps not shocking that the cartoon instruction has not transformed cultural attitudes and behaviors held for centuries. The booklets failed to stop the mass sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve. They also failed to bring about changed attitudes regarding sexual orientation: Muslim migrants were recently arrested while stoning two transgender individuals. The young men told German police “such persons must be killed.”
Canadian journalist Ezra Levant blasted Germany for promoting cartoons rather than restricting the immigration of Muslim men whose culture permits—even encourages—this behavior, adding, “Oh, hey—let’s invite 50,000 of these young men to Canada. What could go wrong?”
England recently reported that six Muslim-based schools in East London were judged to put pupils at risk of “extremist influences and radicalization” by their curriculum, whose views “undermine the active promotion of the rule of British law and respect for other people,” including individuals of other sexual orientation as well as females. The books were said to “promote inequality of women and punishments, including stoning to death, which are illegal in Britain.” The schools have repeatedly failed inspections of curriculum, indicating this is an ongoing problem which is not easily resolved. Apparently, authorities are afraid to shut down the noncompliant schools. What reprisals do authorities fear, should they take action against the schools? What does this imply for the future of London?
How would we handle this clash of cultures in our community, when refugees establish private religious schools to indoctrinate students in beliefs and behaviors unacceptable to our sense of human rights and dignity? Which teach behaviors in violation of our laws, including dangerous radicalization?
Because significant issues of cultural conflict have without exception been the experience of every European nation that has accepted a substantial refugee population, the burden of proof is on relocation proponents to demonstrate precisely how we would somehow be the exception. Why would we be the single host nation immune to this unhappy pattern? Explain to your daughters, your wives, your sisters, your mothers, your girlfriends, and your homosexual and transgender friends—and your noble sons who try to protect them from assault (as a high schooler was recently murdered for doing)—why, in light of these facts, they should not be anxious about their own welfare should refugees be brought to their community.
We are ill-served by being willfully blind to the facts. Let the facts, rather than wishing and hoping, or political correctness, or generous but naive idealizing, inform our decisions.
This is Part 2 of a three-part series highlighting some of the issues involved with refugee resettlement. Part 3 will address whether bringing refugees here is the moral, “Christian” thing to do, and—importantly—a more desirable means to aid displaced refugees that respects the needs of both the host and refugee cultures.