The short fuse of Europe’s migration crisis exploded in Paris last Friday when terrorist attacks ripped through the city’s heart and rattled its fraught borders.
As Paris quakes, reactionary politicians have begun exploiting the terror attacks as a platform for demagoguery, citing unsubstantiated suspicions of links between terrorism and Syrian refugees. In the wake of the attacks, Hungarian right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated Monday that “terrorists have exploited mass migration by mingling” among incoming refugees. With an air of vindication, French National Front chief Marine le Pen told NPR the attacks signaled a need to “reestablish our own borders” and protect French “customs” in order to “eradicate Islamic fundamentalism on our soil.”
It matters little that refugees are among the most acute victims of the kind of terror for which they’re being collectively punished.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s director for Europe and Central Asia, predicts the attacks will now be used by anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant leaders, particularly in Eastern Europe, to justify intensified border crackdowns based on perceived security threats (however baseless), which in turn “will make it increasingly difficult for Germany, the [EU] Commission, others who are in favor and see the need for a [refugee] redistribution system, to get the necessary support for that.”
But reform is inevitable if the concept of European unity is to sustain itself. The Paris attacks have “fundamentally changed the politics of this issue,” Dalhuisen says, but the current reactionary backlash “will rub up against the fact that numbers will just keep coming…whether people want it or not.” The question looming over officials is simply, “What time do states realize that they need to put order in this system?”
Even more than blatant xenophobia, it’s incompetence and stagnation that plague the European immigration debate. Amnesty’s latest report on EU border policy reveals a growing pattern of malign neglect festering at Europe’s lawless edges.