I am in tears. Finally (!) Austria and Germany show some compassion and welcome refugees. The outpouring of support for refugees is humbling.
“By Saturday afternoon, officials in Vienna had to ask people to stay away from the train station, which was heavily overcrowded with well-wishers bearing donations.” (The Guardian)
This is the Europe I want. This is the Europe I am proud of.
Politicians insist that this is an exception, nonetheless it is a step in the right direction. Quite in contrast are the reactions in Hungary where a new border fence is being erected and heavily-equipped police encircle exhausted refugees to deport them to camps.
“Now we are breathing the air of freedom here.”— Wahid, a Syrian refugee
Michael Ignatieff brings it to the point: “What’s holding back sympathy for the Syrians? They’ve been barrel-bombed in Aleppo by their own regime, they’ve been tortured, kidnapped and massacred by miscellaneous jihadis and opposition militias. They’ve been in refugee camps for years, waiting for that cruelly deceiving fiction ‘the international community’ to come to their aid. Now, when they take to the roads, to the boats and to the trains, all our political leaders can think of is fences, barbed wire and more police.”
Hungary’s President Orban warned of a “Muslim threat” to a Christian culture and insist that Europe should close its borders or otherwise the inflow of refugees would increase. This kind of thinking is highly dangerous and ignorant. It is not the prospect of ‘heavenly’ Europe that causes refugees to cross the Mediterranean Sea in overloaded boats — it is the deterrent, inhumane and unbearable state of their home countries. No matter how ‘unattractive’ we make Europe, anything is better than life in a refugee camp in the middle of a war zone.
Not to forget that we are partially responsible for that, too. If we’ve been arming Syrian rebels, shouldn’t we also be helping the people trying to get out of their way? If we’ve failed to broker peace in Syria, can’t we help the people who can’t wait for peace any longer?
I wish I was in Germany so I could help out, too.