As an immigrant to Canada, from the countries of Bosnia and Croatia, I’ve taken an interest in the plight of the Syrian refugees. Although their struggle seemed to be more pertinent during our recent Canadian election, I now don’t hear as much about them apart from when there is a tentative connection to them because of other events: these events being the recent Paris attacks and the shooting in San Bernardino.
With both of these events, regardless of the flimsy ties to the Syrian refugee crisis, certain…let’s say people-in-power, and a carrot named Donald, have decided that these are good examples to keep the refugees from entering our borders here in the West. Now the tragedy at San Bernardino is still an ongoing investigation and I would like to shift views to the Paris attacks, so let me just say that the people who believe that not granting refuge to the Syrians based on the actions of two hateful terrorists are wrong and they are propagating stereotypes that will, undoubtedly, have wide-reaching consequences.
The Paris attacks, on the other hand, have a tie to the Syrian refugee crisis in the form of a Syrian passport found near the body of a terrorist that orchestrated the attack at the field. As information was being gathered, newspapers and analysts urged caution, as the whole set-up for the passport seemed strange. Once the investigation was finished, it was discovered that the passport was most likely fake. But was it too late, has the damage already been done?
The two and a half million Syrian refugees fleeing Syria are running for their lives and looking to the West (Europe and America) as a safe haven. This number will only continue to grow in the coming months. That’s an enormous amount of bodies that presented potential recruitment for ISIS or any of the other regimes currently involved in the Syrian civil war, a war that is too complicated to explain, or even fully understand, thanks to the years of unrest in the area and the numerous interests of Western countries in the region. This is why when I hear people say, “They should go back and deal with their own problems,” it makes me want to scream at them to such a degree that it will rupture their eardrums, but I digress.
The planting of the Syrian passport by the attacker served a sinister purpose. It made the West and the general public more cautious of who they were willing to let in, thereby punishing the people who are trying to escape the life-threatening dangers of Syria. A whole group of desperate individuals is suffering the backlash from this passport, and I believe that it was part of the terrorists’ plans. By making the Western countries tighten their borders to an extreme degree they are effectively keeping people from finding refuge. This may result in some people becoming desperate and frustrated enough to go back and join a campaign that strengthens the terrorist factions within Syria, or, worse yet, force the refugees back to Syria where they may be severely punished for daring to try and find a better life. While the West accepted refugees, they effectively took power away from ISIS’s ideology and undermined their structure and their promises. But now, because of recent events and the passport, the West has taken on another tune, and some countries, Poland being an example, have decided to use this as an excuse to back out of previous promises.
So, has it worked? Has the passport done its damage?
Unfortunately, I believe it has. Of course, it comes as no surprise that with the recent political debates in the U.S. that the Republicans are calling on a full stop from accepting immigrants from any Muslim country, but what about Canada? What about our country, which long upheld the ideals of multiculturalism and peacekeeping. A country that, between 1975 and 1976, admitted 5, 608 Vietnamese refugees, and in 1992 accepted 5,000 Bosnian refugees, and 5, 000 Kosovo refugees in 1999? A country that also regrettably refused 907 Jewish refugees in 1939.
I will explain my thoughts concerning Canada and the refugee crisis in the second part for this article that will be published here later this week.