FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The New Moslem Diaspora

by Behzad Yaghmaian

The anti-immigration crusade in the West reached new levels in recent weeks. On July 12, the liberal government of Britain finally got its wish when it reached an agreement with the conservative-dominated government of France to close down the Sangatte Red Cross camp by April 2003. Months of fierce negotiations and lobbying came to an end. The camp will be no more. The asylum seekers_nearly 1500 Afghanis, Kurds, Iraqis, and Iranian_will be “voluntarily” returned home.

A bill passed in the lower house of Italy early last month is to make fingerprinting mandatory for non-EU immigrants. Of course, provisions are being made to exclude those holding a U.S. passport. The anti-immigrant forces gained momentum after the arrival here of 1000 mainly Iraqi-Kurd asylum seekers in March. Similar tough policies enacted in Denmark, Spain, and elsewhere in Europe. In England, isolated camps are built in remote areas to house those seeking refuge from unbearable economic and political conditions at home. An educational apartheid is proposed in England by the labor government efforts to build separate schools for the children of asylum seekers.

Though directed against asylum seekers from the Third World and former Soviet-block countries, migrants from Moslem countries are at the heart of this continent-wide policy. Moslem migrants are increasingly the targets of the “war against terror” in Europe. Afghani and Iraqi terrorists are claimed to have infiltrated refugees and asylum seekers: living among them, crossing borders with them, and seeking refugee status in the West.

The new policy is leading to unprecedented human rights abuses and the mistreatment of those already subjected to extreme forms of political and economic violence. It is closing doors to those desperately in need of protection: the victims of war, fundamentalism, and economic violence.

While war and instability continue in Afghanistan, Afghani asylum seekers and refugees are “voluntarily” sent home. With the downfall of the Taliban, Afghanis lost all opportunities for gaining refugee status in the West. Over night, nearly three million displaced Afghanis were transformed into “economic migrants,” lacking any legitimate cause for asylum. The violence-ridden Afghanistan was now a sanctuary for the displaced in the eyes of the West. Extreme poverty, post-war devastation, hunger, and the repeated U.S. bombing were no longer sufficient for granting Afghanis a home away from home. They are now considered human shield for the terrorists.

The Iraqis face similarly hostile situations. War, political dictatorship, economic sanction, and poverty have caused the dislocation of a growing number of Iraqis in recent years. The continuous threat of a U.S. invasion is already causing more stress and the possibility of a new Iraqi exodus. Preparing for the new influx, the UNHCR and the Iranian government have been shipping blankets and other supplies to border areas with Iraq. A disastrous human movement similar to the 1991 mass escape by the Kurds is expected to occur. But, this time, the uprooted people carry with them a stigma deeply engraved in European attitude and policy: they are potential terrorists; among them are the enemies of the West. Driven away from their homes, they will be kept outside the fortress Europe.

The displaced Iraqi and Afghani people are expected to be joined by tens of thousands of Iranians. An unprecedented number of educated Iranians have been leaving home due to political repression, unemployment, decline in standard of living, and the lack of hope for economic revival and political opening. The continuous hostility between the U.S. and Iran, and the declaration of Iran as an “Axis of Evil” by George Bush have produced a new wave of Iranians leaving home in fear of a possible U.S. attack. Once again, war has become a daily preoccupation, a worry, and a cause of fear by a population already subjected to extreme forms of political and social instability.

Fleeing home to find a sanctuary away from war and economic malaise, the Iranians are interrogated, criminalized, and treated as potential terrorists. They are fingerprinted in the U.S., Germany, and Italy. Iranian passengers of Turkish Airline are routinely removed from the plane, asked to stand by their luggage on the runway while the anti-terror forces search for explosive sand other life-threatening objects.

Palestinians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Algerians, Moroccans, and immigrants from other Moslem countries are treated with similar discriminatory policies. The continuation of this situation is expected to lead to new forms of violence. Many will use the services of smugglers and human traffickers to escape their devastating conditions and reach Europe. The Middle Eastern migrants are trafficked through Turkey, the Balkan States, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland to Western Europe. Having survived the Sahara, the North African migrants continue their great escape on flimsy fishing boats through the turbulent waters of the Strait of Gibraltar. They pay their life savings to smugglers to take them to freedom on the other side of the Strait_only 14 kilometers away. Many never lay foot on soil. The short distance to Europe becomes their last journey.

The closing of borders will increase the dangers of the journey of migration. The future is bleak for many.

Behzad Yaghmaian is a Professor of Economics at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He is the author of Social Change in Iran: an eyewitness account of Dissent, Defiance and a New Movement for Human Rights (SUNY PRESS, 2002). He can be reached at: behzad_yaghmaian@hotmail.com

 

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail