For years, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands has been the leading European politician to argue for religious criteria for admitting immigrants. I joined in ten months ago with a more cautious article that suggested cultural zones to which refugees are encouraged to go. This blog watches as others argue for the need to take culture – religious and other – into consideration in immigration policies.
July 28, 2014 update: The political spokeswoman, Inger Støjberg, of Denmark's largest opposition party, Venstre, wrote a newspaper article arguing for a distinction between "a Christian American or Swede" on the one hand and "a Muslim Somali or Pakistani."
It is not necessary to set the same requirements for everyone, because as a general rule there is a big difference in the ability and will to integrate between a Christian American or Swede and a Muslim Somali or Pakistani. ... To say it directly, it is primarily Muslim immigrants who do not value democracy and freedom. In certain environments, they directly oppose it. Too many non-Western immigrants with Muslim backgrounds do not want our freedom-orientated society model. ... In the future we should make it easier for those who traditionally can and will integrate to come to Denmark, while we make it more difficult for those who don't have the ability or the will.
Inger Støjberg of Denmark.
(July 28, 2014)
Dec. 17, 2014 update: In "A Vast Migration Tragedy," William Lacy Swing contrasts the deep and lasting pain of immigration tragedies at sea during the World War II era (the Mefkure, the Struma, the St. Louis) with the much larger tragedies taking place right now. "In 2014 more migrants have died traveling — nearly 5,000 — than there were passengers and crew on those three voyages." Indeed, "2014 will be the deadliest year for migrants on record."
Despite these much larger numbers, Swing notes, immigrants no longer win the compassion as they did 70-plus years ago.
Sadly, mass migration has led to a cruel irony: the rise of unprecedented anti-migrant sentiment worldwide. ... Increasingly, we see that policies that criminalize migration invite lethal consequences. ... History reminds us that closing our hearts to the misfortunes of others is a recipe for disaster. Sadly that is what's happening in many parts of the world, with avoidable and tragic consequences for migrants seeking safety.
To which I reply: culture is the key. Unstated by Swing but the assumption behind his entire article is that the West is the destination for all the world's refugees. But why focus only on the West and not on other parts of the world? Surely non-Westerners have moral obligations too.
As I noted in my article above, Muslim refugees are on their way to the West: Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, Somalis, Algerians, and others. It is not realistic to ask Europeans, Americans, and Australians to accept these populations; rather, they should be redirected toward Saudi Arabia and other countries culturally more akin and compatible.
Jan. 12, 2015 update: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán responded to the Charlie Hebdo attack by bringing up the culture topic. Hungary Today paraphrased his comments on television:
It is now necessary to talk about immigration and related cultural issues more openly, sincerely and in a straightforward manner, he said. Orbán expressed hope that a composed and calm analysis of recent events will point European leaders and Brussels in the direction of introducing strict policies that restrict immigration in Europe.
"Economic migration is a bad thing in Europe and one should not consider it useful because it will only bring trouble and danger to European people, so immigration must be stopped, this is the Hungarian position," he said. Those that leave their countries for political reasons, to save their lives, "should be given what's due, that is shelter" but Hungary cannot give such refuge to economic migrants, he added.
Compared to other European countries, there are few "people with cultural backgrounds different from ours" in Hungary and these few have mostly fit in well, providing for their own well-being, willing to work, with skills and a desire to find their place in Hungarian society. There is no problem with the minorities that currently live with us and their numbers are not growing at a rate that would "give us a headache," Orbán said.
Mar. 22, 2015 update: The ruling VVD party in the Netherlands has come out against accepting non-European refugees, though on security grounds (some may be terrorists), not cultural grounds.
May 26, 2015 update: Poland's Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz announced that her government will accept 60 Christian Syrian refugee families "for a start," explaining that "Christians who are being persecuted in a barbaric fashion in Syria deserve Christian countries like Poland to act fast to help them."
Comment: Will other authorities in eastern Europe and maybe elsewhere adopt this Christian-only policy?
July 11, 2015 update: Spokeswoman Malgorzata Wozniak of the Polish ministry of internal affairs has announced that "Poland would be ready to host 2.000 people by 2017," meaning Poland will accept 2,000 migrants from Syria and North Africa as part of the European Union's plan to relocate refugees away from its southern states. Again, only Christian refugees are welcome. Starting the process, some 50 Christian families from Syria have already arrived in Poland.
Aug. 19, 2015 update: The Slovak government has agreed to accept 200 Christian Syrian refugees. An Interior Ministry spokesman of the Central European country explained, "In Slovakia, we don't have mosques." Therefore, he went on, Muslim migrants would not feel at home there. Accordingly, he concluded, "We only want to choose the Christians."
Comment: It's a clever way for a government to effect the culture zone policy I advocate.
Nov. 17, 2014 update: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (Republican of Texas), a leading candidate for president, has come out in favor of taking in Christian but not Muslim refugees from Syria; the Muslim pose more of a risk and can go to Muslim-majority countries. CNN reports that he
has argued that the risk of Islamic militants infiltrating the refugee population is too high for America to accept them with open arms. On the stump across South Carolina, Cruz argued that the percentage of refugees that are young men suggests that ISIS may look to take advantage of any relaxation of immigration laws. The Texas senator instead thinks that Muslims fleeing the Syrian civil war should be repopulated to other Muslim countries. But the Christian population, he believes, has nowhere else to go, and Cruz batted away concerns by telling reporters in Myrtle Beach on Sunday that Christians posed "no meaningful risk" to national security.
Dec. 7, 2015 update: Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, called today for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."