By Ismail Veli………
”It’s the fault of immigrants”, words we hear so often these days. It seems that everything and anything wrong in society is put down to immigration. Inadequate social services, ”blame the immigrants”, lack of funding in the national health service, ”Blame the immigrants”.
Muggings, ”must be the immigrants’, murder and other crimes on the increase ”’must be the immigrants’, ‘ lack of education funding,”blame the immigrants’, and the list goes on.
I have lived in the UK since 1962, the only time I remember a racist remark against me personally was in July 2006, and yet in the last year alone it’s shot up to no less than 3 times. I’m made of stern stuff and put this down to the ignorance of the individuals concerned, I prefer to rise above such prejudice, I don’t like it but refuse to drop my standards of tolerance and respect for the massively rich and diverse culture I live in. Sadly, blaming the immigrants for every woe in society is not a new phenomena. Let’s look at a few remarkable instances in history when wholesale persecution has left a shameful lesson for which we have still to learn in the 21st century.
The great fire of Rome in 64 AD inflicted so much damage on Rome that scapegoats had to be found. The Christians being the newest religion at the time became the target. The fact that shoddy building, lack of facilities to control fires and darn right callousness of the authorities to help make homes safer were totally ignored. Easy to blame others than accept faults in one’s own inadequacy.
In 1348 a plague that decimated the population of Europe by an estimated 25 million people had such a profound affect on the continent that many believed it to have been caused by the Jews. The conspiracy was believed to have been plotted by the leaders of the Jewish community in Toledo, Spain, the head of this atrocity was pointed in the direction of a Rabbi named Peyret whose headquarters was in Chambery, Savoy. The theory was that the Jews had poisoned wells and springs in order to ”Poison Christendom”. An inquiry was initiated by Amadeus, the Count of Savoy. After some torture against male and female prisoners the sad victims confessed to have poisoned the water wells, springs etc. This confession was made ”in the presence of a great many trustworthy persons”. The poor tortured victims also confessed that the poison had been given to them by the above mentioned Rabbi Peyret and were asked to spread this poison among the ”wells, cisterns and springs above Venice”.
The stupidity of this episode does not explain how this so called poisoning was spread throughout Europe. The deep rooted hatred of Jews “seen as foreigners” was such that no-one doubted this theory. Many communities were massacred and many committed suicide in order to avoid torture and murder. In a town named Erfurt in Germany alone an estimated 3000 were said to have been butchered on 21 March 1349.
In September 1666 a violent and massive fire decimated large parts of London. The buildings at the time were mostly made of wood, any spark would start a fire that could become uncontrollable. It was not the first time London faced such a threat but the fateful fire of 1666 was so massive that many believed it was the fault of the immigrants, the Dutch in particular were singled out as England was at war with the French and Dutch. It was believed they started this in preparation for an invasion. A Swedish diplomat was almost lynched, fortunately the Duke of York’s timely intervention saved his life.
A Dutch baker was dragged from his shop and his whole property was destroyed. French were pelted with stones and hammered with iron bars. One of the worst atrocities was when a French woman’s breasts were cut off and another Frenchman was almost dismembered by a crowd when the tennis balls he was carrying were wrongly assumed to be bombs.
These are just a few examples. This disaster came hot on the heels of the Black plague. The Plague was a bi-product of millions of cats butchered in the belief that heretics manifested themselves in the images of geese, toads and above all in cats. This stupidity was actually declared by none other than Pope Gregory the IX who wrote to Prince Henry, son of Emperor Frederick. Any disasters, plagues or woes in society had to be blamed on immigrants, cats, witches or infidels. That was then. What has modern society learned from historic prejudice and bigotry? Sadly very little. Polish-Jewish immigrants were even blamed for the Jack the Ripper crimes. It seems people refuse to accept that their own brethren can commit such despicable crimes, therefore ‘foreigners’ are often the scapegoats
Even the defeat of Germany in W.W.1 was blamed on the Jews, subsequently the Jews were blamed by the Nazi’s for anything and everything. The Latino’s are blamed for the drug problem in the USA, as though the rest of society is totally innocent. Any murder by an immigrant becomes a national scandal while the deaths recorded by the FBI as a direct result of archaic gun laws are totally ignored. In fact the murder rate in the USA in 2013 was 14.196. In 2014. it was 14.249, in 2015 it was 15.399 and 2016 it was a staggering 17.250. The four years total 61.094, which is higher than the total deaths of 58.220 American military during the entire Vietnam war which first started in 1955 and ended in 1975. Ten of these years saw massive military commitment.
On my recent visit to Italy, immigrants were blamed for the crime rate by many I spoke to, totally ignoring the fact that the mafia groups in Sicily, Naples and Calabria have virtually been a law unto themselves for centuries. The increase in car accidents, crime and corruption in North Cyprus is almost exclusively blamed on ”Mainland Turks”, the Greeks blame every woe to befall them on the Turks, regardless of any fault in their own education or politically suicidal actions of the past.
Gangsters activities in Limassol are nearly always blamed on Russians etc. while forgetting that it’s the Government’s open door policy to money laundering that invites such activities in the first place while ”poor innocent Cypriots’ have ”nothing to do with it”. In Greece most of the crimes are attributed to Albanians and other immigrants. The recent trend is to blame refugees fleeing war torn countries of flooding into Europe. In 2015 the EU agreed to accept 160.000 asylum seekers and distribute these among the 28 countries, quotas were allocated depending on wealth of each country. The total EU population is 510 million, so the agreed quota is not exactly astronomical.
According to the UNHCR, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon registered more than 2 million refugees, Turkey registered 3 million and 30.000 in other parts of North Africa. Considering the EU is the single largest economic block in the world 160 thousand is minuscule by comparison. Poland, The Czech Republic and Hungary have refused to accept this quota. The Polish government seems to overlook the fact that almost 2.3 million of its own citizens were recorded as economic migrants (not refugees) while denying this basic sanctuary to people from ”other faiths”.
This does not include the massive migration of Poles in the last century due to war and economic depression. 200.000 Hungarians themselves fled their country following the Soviet invasion in 1956. The US immigration statistics show that by 1920 roughly 600.000 Czechs lived in that country alone. In 2015 1,703,930 Americans claimed their ancestry as Czech or Slovak. Even allowing for some exaggeration the numbers are clearly massive. Hypocrisy it seems has no limits.
According to the British Red Cross the estimated number of refugees living in the UK in 2015 was 118.995. much less than Germany’s 587.346. Sweden recorded 83.103, this is much higher in percentage terms as Sweden’s population is only 9.9 million compared to the UK’s 65 million. In short, it’s clear that much poorer countries in the world seem to take in a much higher number of refugees than the richer countries. Sadly while the theme these days is ”We want our country back” or ”America first” it would help us all to ask if the Western countries asked permission from other countries when sending their military to ”protect our interests”. Did those countries not have the right to shout out ”We want to rule our own country as we see fit”.
I’ll go even further, the members of the security council which includes France, Great Britain and the USA have a final say or veto in every security council resolution, thereby giving them a unique position of importance but above all BENEFIT. Sadly, many want the BENEFITS minus the OBLIGATIONS. If and when they want to wash their hands of such a unique benefit then we should all suggest they also give up those benefits. I’ll BE DAMNED IF THEY DO. So basically we shall simply carry on blaming refugees and migrants for almost every woe, but refuse to forgo all the responsibilities and obligations that we rewarded ourselves in the aftermath of WW2. This of course will not stop us from interfering and lecturing to others about human rights, responsibilities, obligations etc etc.
One of the worst arguments I find are by 2nd and 3rd generation migrants who for one reason or another claim ”we were different, we need to close our doors”. So let’s come in and pull the drawbridge up on others. Today’s refugees are ”Different” so let’s just carry on blaming migrants and foreigners to make ourselves feel better about our own failings.
”Any nation that feels itself immune from such disasters, may have a rude awakening one day that calamity is not the exclusive domain of far away shores”
Aylan Kurdi The Syrian lad found dead on the beach in Turkey being carried away