The Dead Muslim Ummah, European Refugee Crisis
The Dead Muslim Ummah, European Refugee Crisis
by: Waqas A. Khan
It has been widely reported that since early last year, about one million refugees have entered the European Union via the sea from Turkey to Greece. This has shown the dead Muslim ummah in the European Refugee Crisis.
With human-rights activists on the Greek island Lesbos chanting “Stop Deportations,” “EU, Shame on You” and “Freedom for the Refugees,” as many as 45 Pakistani refugees were being unceremoniously deported the other day to Dikili, a Turkish coastal town. Their exile was carried out despite activists’ clinging to the anchor of a ferry transporting them.
This incident took place because of a European Union plan to deport migrants from Greece to Turkey. Basically, the goal is to reduce the number of migrants able to reach Europe.
The Muslim Ummah, or Muslim Brotherhood as they call it to play on the sentiments of the 2.2 billion Muslims around the world, is conspicuously dormant at a time when a sufficient response is needed in the face of the refugee crisis emerged from war-torn Syria. Many leaders in these Gulf countries that are lucky enough to have rich petroleum deposits have been too busy selling their oil, marrying multiple women, hunting animals to prove their “bravery” and leasing the world’s most expensive “enjoyment” destinations.
What about Qatar, with its robust per-capita income of $88,919?
Or maybe Kuwait ($54,654), Brunei ($50,506) or United Arab Emirates ($48,222)?
If not them, could Oman ($28,880), Saudi Arabia ($24,434), Bahrain ($23,690) or Turkey ($16,885) stand tall in this time of such immense need?
No, these nations and many more have turned a cold shoulder. Their “oily” economies apparently are not “healthy” enough to offer a sniff of a better life. In fact, all of the aforementioned countries have imposed zero-entry policy for these native-son refugees who have been forced to set their sights on the EU and its average per-capita income of $35,673. That amount, while impressive, is less than top 5 richest countries that comprise the “Ummah”.
In a quirk of fate, the prime route for these refugees has been Greece, which is in the midst of a severe financial crisis. And it’s current per-capita income? That number would be $18,377 — and falling.
Many refugees are risking life and limb en route to Europe in overloaded boats., Still, many others languish in the Middle East. Even for then, all these comparatively rich “Ummah” countries are either denying entry to these refugees, or they make excuses while “paying” the United Nations to encamp these unfortunate souls.
As a Muslim, I have to believe that if such a situation had arisen in the West, involving huge numbers of Christians and Jews to flee toward the “Ummah” — in the name of safety and to escape barbaric circumstance — they, too, likely would be turned away because of a “risk to Islam, its culture and traditions by non-Muslim immigrants.”
I have been blessed to have walked with people of all faiths — Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs among them. Partly through my wandering visits to India and Nepal and largely through the International Centre for Journalists (and a Journalist Exchange Program to the United States), I have visited other faiths’ houses of worship and spent many hours getting to know the people who praise and pray within. During a visit to the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, I learned that many of these very same welcoming Muslims once were illegal immigrants. They have become permanent citizens and with each passing day they are becoming more fully integrated into American society.
One can rightfully argue that it is not any easier for refugees to legitimately enter America But we have little room to criticize the United States and Europe when we have a dead “Ummah” in our part of the world.
U.S. Census data reveals that the nation is accepting about 1,000,000 Muslim immigrants legally each year. Given this rapid assimilation, the U.S. Muslim population will become more than double in next two decades. Pew Research estimates this number will grow from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030. Another major source of Middle Eastern immigration into the United States happens through that nation’s refugee-acceptance program. Every year the United Stated admits 70,000 asylum-seekers and refugees. Arabic is the most common language spoken by these newcomers; among whom more than 9 in 10 are eligible for food assistance.
Germany and France have the largest Muslim populations among European Union nations. As of 2010, the EU was home to about 13 million Muslim immigrants. And this segment of Europe’s population has been increasing steadily. Interestingly, a majority of these Muslims are far younger than other Europeans. They ultimately may well leverage their power and utilize their collective energy to either lift or doom the teetering economies of Europe — the same Europe that will repatriate tens of thousands of illegal Pakistani migrants.
The dire estimate was made by Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. The ostensible reason he gave for returning our illegal migrants was that Pakistan functions under a “democratic process,” unlike Syria and Afghanistan, which are riven with strife and whose governments are without a democratic process.
Following this equation, Pakistanis do not qualify as political refugees. Pakistan is governed under a democratic process. Its citizens are not persecuted, and great progress has been made by authorities to follow a democratic roadmap for our country.
Officials claim that less than 20 percent of illegal Pakistani migrants are granted asylum in Europe; Eurostat alleges that 168,000 were supposed to be deported from the EU between 2008 and 2014, but in reality only 55,750 left because of a paucity of flights, bureaucratic delays and lack of enforcement. EU nations signed an accord with Islamabad in 2009 to allow Europe to repatriate our illegal migrants.
Several European states have introduced unprecedented border controls since the peak of the crisis last year. EU powerhouse Germany — the migrants’ preferred destination — and Austria each tightened their borders in mid-September. Sweden, long viewed as a haven for refugees, recently introduced temporary controls triggering a knock-on effect; this prompted Denmark to do the same on its frontier with Germany.
These displaced wanderers pay smugglers exorbitant sums to hopefully cross the Aegean Sea. Non-EU member Macedonia, which since November has made it especially difficult for people not fleeing war zones to enter.
If you believe this essay has been written to build an argument against Muslim immigration to America and Europe, then you might have misunderstood me.
To be clear, I am referring to the oily “Ummah” and those who have much darker hearts than “Kafir’s” (non-Muslims).
Let us instead be thankful to the Jews, Christians and people of other faiths and background; those who we too believe our enemies in principle, or just because we incorrectly believe they hate us.
Let us open our hearts and show compassion for all minorities who are living their lives in our great homeland, or in the pathetic and miserable conditions of “Ummah.” Because our people have been allowed to emigrate in such great numbers to America and Europe, let us likewise choose to shower exiles within our borders with peace and love.
Let us build churches, synagogues, temples and shrines and welcome these brothers and sisters and their families from abroad.
Let us offer brotherhood — in every sense of the word — and become the positive and shining light the “Ummah” was meant to be. Without this approach, our great people risk become just as dead inside as these “oily” profiteers within their illegitimate fifedoms.
Let us not be quick to judge — especially at first sight — those of different backgrounds, beliefs, education and status. Every stranger does not have to be our sworn enemy
Let us not revert business as usual. We are so much better than that.
The article was published in Pakistan Today