Home Opinion Opinion: While Turkey welcomes refugees, Europe closes its borders

Opinion: While Turkey welcomes refugees, Europe closes its borders

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During the spring of 2011, no one was expecting that anti-government demonstrations could turn into an unstoppable, bloody civil war in Syria. Though Syrian citizens were just seeking freedom, the response given by their government was way harsher than they expected. Due to this turmoil, the world now faces one of the most tragic refugee crises since World War II.

A senior United Nations official reported on April 22, 2016, that the death toll has reached 400,000 as a result of this five-year civil war. Unofficial reports claim it has already exceeded this number. In addition to the tremendous number of casualties in the major battle zones, we also hear and read heartbreaking stories of vulnerable people dying while crossing the border and drowning incidents while struggling to flee their homes in search of a safe haven.

Before I started to write this article, I was curious and took a look at the 1951 Refugee Convention. It is clearly indicated that a refugee should not be sent back to a country in which their life or freedom is at stake. Even though everyone should bear responsibility to take in these desperate people, observers unfortunately experience disgraceful, deplorable and barbaric practices, especially in European countries.

Countries that harangue on every platform about human rights, world peace and equal rights seem to fail this test. For instance, Denmark passed a law in favor of confiscating cash and valuable items from refugees to cover their expenses. The Hungarian government spends all its time and effort on defending the country against these “dangerous and hypocrite” immigrants, whose only intention is to find a better life and survive, by means of extending fences on the Serbian border and sending more and more troops to guard it. Austrian lawmakers adopted new legislation declaring a state of emergency in the case of an abrupt influx of refugees. “Thoughtful” Slovakian authorities announced that they are not going to accept any Muslim refugees since they may not feel like home in Slovakia. How lovely, isn’t it?

On the other hand, Turkey single-handedly hosts over three million Syrian refugees across 26 different refugee camps. The money spent on and for these people has been nearly $12 billion so far, and people preferring to stay in these camps are able to utilize basic services like health and education freely. No race-based violence has been seen in Turkey, even though there are people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds (i.e.,. Druzes, Alawites and Orthodox Christians). Moreover, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated in an official dinner that the country’s interior ministry initiated the preparation of offering citizenship to refugees. Related, the majority of the population — excluding the secular nationalist-minded people — has no objection to any of these implementations and decisions made by the Turkish government.

During the refugee crisis, while Turkey was protecting her honor, Europe solely protected its borders. The thesis that intolerance in Europe ended after wiping out one-third of the population in Central Europe due to sectarian conflict during Thirty Years` War is refuted. Racism still patrols across Europe and goes after innocent people.

Europe is now at an important crossroads. If the region can comprehend how significant caring for people regardless of their ethnicity, faith or skin color is instead of fomenting political unrest in other countries, including promoting terrorist groups such as PKK and YPG, or instigating minorities to riot, future generations will appreciate and remember our time nicely. The key of success is embedded in our hearts. As great Sufi philosopher Rumi said: “Come, seek, for search is the foundation of fortune: every success depends upon focusing the heart.”


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