The Refugee Crisis

A sticker reading ‘refugees welcome’
Sticker reading ‘refugees welcome’ from Pexels.
The war in Syria has cost over 500 thousand lives
The war in Syria has cost over 500 thousand lives. Photograph: BBC News/Getty Images

Its closer to home than one may imagine

The uprising is now “more than just a battle between those for or against Mr Assad”. It has become a battle between religious parties in dispute over control of the country, in which the Sunni fraction is in dispute with the Shia Alawite sect, favouring President Assad. What’s even more significant is that to date, major superpowers such as the US as well as some influential EU members such as the UK and France have influenced the war. The war has also provided a growing opportunity for the IS (Islamic-State) terror group to thrive from the unstable conditions within the country. This has given further fuel to destruction, oppression and constant fear amongst the Syrian population.

Syria in ruins from destructive bombings and air raids
Ruins from bombings and air raids in Syria. Photograph: Arab News/AFP

Europe and the refugee crisis

In a mass movement of refugees fleeing to Europe between 2015 and 2016, nearly 5.2 million refugees successfully arrived on European shores, risking their lives every step along their journey to flee from war, violence, terror, poor economic structures and mass destruction. Latest figures dating back to 2018, shows that more than 130,000 people attempted to reach Europe by sea, making the consequences of the Syrian war an evidently increasingly more local, European issue.

2015 was the year the media focused on immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers

The refugee crisis was possibly the single most dominant topic across most European news outlets during 2015 and feasibly contributed to the lack of interest and aid within Europe for the inhumane conditions of such migrant camps once in Calais and on the Greek island Lesbos, that still exist 5 years down the line, which are overcrowded, with new refugees arriving every day.

A Unicef camp on the greek island of Lesbos

How the media spun the image of an ‘invasion’ and created fear amongst the public

During, the height of migration movement from Northern Africa, the Middle East and East-Asia, a large scale of the western media reported the events in a negative light. The media used certain words that exaggerated and dramaticised the events and perhaps further fuelled and supported right-wing minorities and encouraged hate and racial crimes. Words such as “floods” and “waves” were only used to emphasise the supposed amount of people, stimulating scepsis, negativity and possibly even panic amongst the public.

Tabloid coverage on immigration
Tabloid coverage on immigration.

Media misrepresentation of Muslim culture, ‘othering’ and the act of linking refugees to crime and terrorism

After the attack in Paris 2015, EU countries were shaken by a series of terror attacks that horrified nations across Europe:

  • March 2016 — Brussels Bombing
  • July 2016 — Nice Lorry Attack
  • July 2016 — Munich Shooting
  • July 2016 — Normandy Church
  • December 2016 — Berlin Truck
  • February 2017 — Louvre knife attack
  • March 2017 — Westminster attack
  • April 2017 — Stockholm Truck
  • April 2017 — Paris shooting
The Sun front cover— The Guardian

Islamophobia in the British media

The British media tends to be quite critical of Islam and Muslim culture and likes to compare this culture with western principles in which it cleverly spins a distorted picture of an ‘us vs them’, creating distance between the British public and the Muslim religion. Mediatization of Islam and Muslim culture is reduced to notions of ‘orientalism’ in which the media frames the typical Muslim as controlling, overly religious and domineering whereas the Western world is presented as “liberal” and “modern”.

Europe and its rise of nationalism and isolationism

What is even more concerning is that there is an emerging right-wing fraction within a growing number of European countries which come with an increased ethnocentrism sustaining patriotic, isolationist and moreover nationalist interests of countries, which essentially gave room to political stunts such as the Brexit campaign in Britain.

A London protest in 2016, in aid of refugee hospitality. Photograph:UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

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