This reality has become more dangerous for both refugees and EU citizens. Neither party has any security or cultural stability anymore. And, when equilibrium is challenged, a struggle for survival ensues. It might already be too late, yet even so, measures need to be taken to prevent a clash of civilizations. With the current state of affairs, such a conflict can have no winners. And, if the situation stays as it is, Western European culture, as we know it, will have no future.
By Georgiana Constantin | February 9, 2016
On New Year’s Eve 2016, the city of Cologne, Germany was witness to events which tragically reminded both Western Europe and the rest of the world of the dangers forced multiculturalism can pose. Men, and especially women, who were gathered to celebrate the advent of a new year in Cologne were assaulted and robbed by mobs of apparently organized gangs of foreigners. Many women were sexually harassed and some were raped. The assailants used firecrackers to confuse and disperse the crowd before they began their attacks.
More than 800 complaints were filed with regard to the assaults, robberies and rapes which took place that night. “About 521 complaints allege some kind of sexual assault, including three rapes. The overall number of complaints has grown from 766 on Monday to 809 on Tuesday. The attacks have stoked a fierce debate in Germany about how to integrate the almost 1.1 million asylum-seekers who arrived last year.” The general consensus among the victims of that night was that there were around one thousand men of “Arab or North African” appearance who did not speak German or English, robbing and harassing the people in the city after having gathered in front of the Central Train Station. Moreover, as Deutsche Welle reports, similar attacks took place in 12 other German states. And, it seems, refugee gangs in Helsinki had similar plans for New Year’s Eve, before those plans were foiled by local police.
It is quite clear that such horrific events are taking place more frequently in Western Europe, especially, it appears, since the rise in the number of Muslim refugees. European leaders, however, seem to be taking a different approach than the people with regard to the link between new refugees and the crimes: “The European Commission will be the ‘voice of reason’ and tell the public that there is no link between the migration crisis affecting the continent and attacks on women in Germany, internal minutes disclose, amid growing concerns at a ‘xenophobic” backlash.’” Despite this wide ranging sentiment amongst European high level officials, some countries are making it a priority to protect their citizens against violent culture clashes, as is the case of Slovakia, where “following the Cologne attacks, Robert Fico, the Slovakian prime minister, said he would accept no refugees as they are ‘impossible to integrate’ and have a ‘different relationship to women.’”
The effects of such events are already being felt and most fear future collisions between Western and Islamic values. Examples of deep rooted cultural incompatibilities abound. Such is the case of refugee men being banned from a public swimming pool in Germany because of their attitude towards the women there. These issues seem to be taking the EU by storm and it does not look as if solutions can be easily reached. Chancellor Merkel is now looking at more restrictive measures for future migrants and has even observed that most of them have only temporary status and that they would be required to return home after the turmoil in Syria and Iraq will have ended. At the same time the rest of the country is either trying to teach refugees how to adapt to Western society by providing educational material on Occidental culture or protesting against the dangers of a failed assimilation.
Obviously, whether one chooses to see the truth, as it is or not, does not change the actual facts. The Muslim East and the Secular West simply do not have the same world views. The value of women and the education of children, the way one should treat their neighbor, whom they should marry, how they are to live, everything differs to a great extent. And whether or not these instructive measures used to teach refugees about life in the West will work on the Islamic newcomers, one cannot say. Unfortunately, for the ones who have lived their whole lives according to a certain worldview, the understanding of Occidental culture will not automatically transform their previous cultural perspectives. It will truly be hard, if not impossible for them to ever see women as their equals or life in a different manner.
For an objective observer, the situation seems to present itself as quite absurd, especially considering that most of what is happening was entirely predictable. One cannot bring so many people from strikingly different cultures into a secular state and not expect tensions and distrust amongst the populace. The EU has often tried to “share the load” of caring for refugees between countries and has expressed disapproval to the general Eastern European attitude of reluctance to accept such plans. In the end, however, if countries keep having to deal with so much social turmoil, wouldn’t their own future be put in danger? Is it not, in fact, a matter of the citizenry and nations’ security? How is this plan to resettle people of cultures so different and who have such little willingness to assimilate in the heart of Occidental Europe, in any way, a good idea?
At this point we are, in fact, past the simple debate concerning who is right and who is wrong. Actions should have been taken sooner to prevent tragedies like the one in Cologne. No one seems to have thought ahead, or in any case, put any thought concerning these matters into practice. Was it hard to foresee the tension and violence? Is it still hard to understand the cultural differences, even when we have modern Muslim leaders blaming attacks on Western women, who are compared to “uncovered meat” placed before cats, claiming that, had they been in their home, in their hijab, “no problem would have occurred?” It is true that not all Muslims behave in this manner. In fact, many break with such extreme views. Unfortunately, this fact does not seem to do much for the sad series of events which have caused the EU to question its ‘no border’ policy, and even, perhaps, its own existence. The question here is not whether one culture is better than another but rather whether they should be forced to live together, when obviously there is little room for compromise and much desire for domination.
There has been talk about reports showing that a big portion of the new arrivals are in fact economic refugees, fleeing poverty, not persecution. But the reason people are drowning in the boats to get to Europe is because they know they will be granted asylum and allowed to stay. Now, even that promise has turned into something temporary for most. This reality has become more dangerous for both refugees and EU citizens. Neither party has any security or cultural stability anymore. And, when equilibrium is challenged, a struggle for survival ensues. It might already be too late, yet even so, measures need to be taken to prevent a clash of civilizations. With the current state of affairs, such a conflict can have no winners. And, if the situation stays as it is, Western European culture, as we know it, will have no future.
Georgiana Constantin is a law school graduate who has studied International, European and Romanian law at the Romanian-American University in Bucharest and received her Masters from the Nicolae Titulescu University in Bucharest. Ms. Constantin, who is based in Romania, is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.