The Syrians of Denmark...An Experience that Hurts Twice
The Syrians of Denmark...An Experience that Hurts Twice
Our colleague Odai Al Zoubi wrote the following on his Facebook page: “The real tragedy for the Syrians in Denmark is that not being expelled back to Syria means that they will remain imprisoned in Denmark, under the mercy of a fascist, ignorant and chauvinistic group of politicians.
Denmark does not grant permanent residence, or nationality, to anyone. Daily life consists of constant fear and genuine horror at the laws debated and drafted by the government, all of which are flagrantly and vilely discriminatory. The media relentlessly insults and disparages Muslims. There is no right, middle, and left when it comes to immigration: They are all in the same basket. The worst restrictions imposed on migrants were put in place by leftist governments.
The Syrians whom the government won’t expel back to Syria will spend the rest of their lives in this fascistic environment. They are forbidden from living in certain places and working certain occupations; parliament issues laws that apply only to Muslims’ gatherings, no one else- a phenomenon that slams all of European democracy’s laws against the wall with an unparalleled obnoxiousness. They are forbidden from moving to another country, neither in Europe nor anywhere else, as no country in the world is willing to host Syrians today.
The Syrians in Denmark’s tragedy is not their expulsion to Syria; it is their lives in Denmark!”
This painful paragraph hurts twice: Once because of the Syrian victims’ suffering, and another time because of the degradation of the Danish model.
Firstly, Denmark is not in the middle of an economic crisis. It is among the world’s richest and least crisis-ridden countries. It is not a country with a tyrannical or totalitarian regime either. It is among the most liberal and freedom valuing counties in the world. However, Denmark is also among the most racist countries in Europe, if not the absolute most racist among them. These characteristics are summed up in a formula that would be comical if living people weren’t paying its price: the Danish regime refuses, on the one hand, to engage or negotiate with the Assad regime in any way because of his inhumane treatment of his people. However, on the other hand, it intends to expel 94 Syrians to their “sunny” country under the pretext that security is stable in some areas in Syria.
What the Syrians in Denmark are going through warns of a problem that recurs in different frameworks and forms in other countries: the transformation of liberalism and democracy into something akin to religion, whereby there is a demarcation line between insiders who belong and others who are on the outside. The former is entitled to democracy and liberalism, and the latter is deprived of them or only see little of their fruit, with their share determined based on identity and origin they had inherited.
The values of progress were indeed born in colonial and semi-colonial countries, but the many experiences that followed have taught us that when this progressiveness does not embrace democracy, humanitarianism, and egalitarianism, it can lead to the kind of barbarism that had been crowned by fascism. The theory of an inside that is entitled and outside that is not had been shunned by the ideology of human rights that emerged with the defeat of fascism after the Second World War. It suffices, for a reminder, to read the first and second articles of the 1948 issued Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The first states: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
The second states: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms outlined in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made based on the political, jurisdictional, or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs... Article 14 adds: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."
The theory of splitting the inside from the outside emerged before the declaration, and it continued to be acted upon subsequently. It expressed itself flauntingly in white South Africa before the nineties. Israel, empowered by being “the only democracy in the Middle East” and that it “turned the desert green,” presented another model. What is happening in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem is the latest example.
Myanmar, just a few months ago, presented us with sufficient indications: The military was distanced from power, and a democratic regime that excluded the Muslim Rohingyas was established. However, the democracy for Buddhists alone was swiftly toppled by the military. They are most capable of representing a pure identity and are its most worthy representatives. The enemies of democracy drank from its waters only once it had rotted.
Going back to Denmark- which, by the way, was the first country to sign the UN Refugee Convention in 1951- the political game that is supposed to clean up public life is precisely what is dragging it to this swamp: it is the ruling Socialist Democratic Party and the racist Danish People’s Party’s populist attempts at outbidding one another as they compete for the working class’s votes.
All of this despite that Denmark has hosted the lowest number of refugees in 30 years, and the number of Syrians among them, those “imprisoned in it,” as Zoubi wrote, is no more than 32,000. Denmark has a population of 6 million!