Lessons of tolerance from Europe


France is paying the price for a 20th Century geopolitical experiment in which they constructed the nation of Syria with total disregard for the ethnic and religious composition of the people living on the lands that Syria now occupies. Along with its north African colonies such as Algeria, which has a totalitarian regime whose security forces are often in collusion with French intelligence, and have caused a number of high profile asylum seeker cases to occur.

But it is not just France. The nations whose former colonies from the days of imperialism, scattered across the Middle East are now seeing the consequences of 20th century imperial ambitions coming unstuck. The people and lands that they colonized, brutalized and then left in a chaotic state following their departure after World War 2 are coming full circle as the large numbers of Algerians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqi’s among others flee internal strife for countries in Europe.

Many of these people are traumatized by war, by seeing family killed by security forces or made to disappear and not be seen again. Some will be militants and others might be dissident politicians. Some might have arrived with a proper formal education and be able to find work, but many would have only arrived knowing what their parents taught them – an education being a luxury, and some only ever knowing the sound of bombs and not teachers giving instruction.

As a result of the poor treatment of people in these countries, France, like Spain, Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, among others is now host to millions of people from former colonies. These people who have arrived in a steady influx since the end of World War 2 when the former European colonial powers began divesting from their colonies, due to bigger problems such as recovering from World War 2 and a restructuring of the geopolitical order, have often arrived with little education or work skills. The host nations have not made any coherent plans to assimilate them into their respective societies.

The burkini ban that is being used in France to justify women being made to don westernized swim wear, is an example of intolerance that has stoked the cultural debate about Islam strictures and the west. Aside from having completely failed in that sales of the garment are sky rocketing, outrage not just among Muslims, but also among non-Muslims at the heavy handed nature of the incident and its implications is growing. For some politicians in France, notably Front National it will be a godsend that helps to stoke the sentiments that drive their anti-immigrant agenda.

France and other nations bomb in Syria, and have helped fund the very despots they are now fighting. Little regard seems to be given for the refugees that they are creating and that these people will likely try to wind up in Europe. And yet, there are politicians and political parties who will demonize the very refugees they created and try to stop them from arriving. The refugees will keep coming because no human can be realistically expected to stay in war zones, especially if they are non-combatants.

There is an old saying. I think it goes along the lines of: You reap what you sow.

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