Last week the leaders of the European Union met to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis that has been the Syrian Civil War. The ongoing struggle between the Bashar al Assad regime, the “moderate” free Syrian rebels and the monstrous terrorists of ISIS has created the greatest refugee crisis since WWII. The vast majority of these refugees are now doing whatever it takes to get to Europe.
In fact, as the nations of Europe struggle to figure out how to take in such large numbers of needy and helpless people, the Muslim nations of the Middle East are standing idly by.
But after photos of a Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach went viral this week and prompting worldwide attention, many Arabs took to social media to express their outrage that Islamic countries failed to do more for their own brethren.
The hashtag #Welcoming_Syria’s_refugees_is_a_Gulf_duty in Arabic was tweeted over 33,000 times on Twitter in the past week, reports BBC Monitoring. Several tweets point out the hypocrisy of Arab leaders pointing to Europe to do more when they, who share a language, heritage and religion in common with the refugees, do nothing to help.
A cartoon published in Saudi Arabia showed an Arab behind a shut door guarded with barbed wire berating a European for not opening his door to the refugees. “Why don’t you let them in, you discourteous people?!” he says.
A commander of the Free Syrian Army retweeted an image of refugees and the message of a former Kuwaiti member of parliament, Faisal al-Muslim: “Oh countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, these are innocent people and I swear they are most deserving of billions in aid and donations,” BBC reported.
To be fair, the Muslim Gulf States have all donated large sums of money to help alleviate the costs of caring for the refugees in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. But money is all that they’ve contributed. None of the Muslim Gulf States have agreed to take in a single refugee, instead they’ve been content to send their money and hope the refugees make their way to Europe. This attitude has angered and perplexed the Muslim community living in the non-Muslim world.
Danish politician Claus Hjort expressed the views that many Europeans (Muslim and otherwise) are feeling, telling Bloomberg News, “I’m most indignant over the Arab countries who are rolling in money and who only take very few refugees, countries like Saudi Arabia. It’s completely scandalous.”
It’s not just the Gulf States that are shirking their responsibilities, either. Just a few days ago, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, wondered why it was that these refugees weren’t seeking safety in the Muslim nations of Turkey or Serbia (which the refugees had to pass through to reach Christian Europe)?
Why won’t the world’s Muslim nations care for their own? Why has the job of providing shelter, comfort and safety fallen to the Christian West? While we gladly take on this role, it does create new and worrisome questions about Islam and about how we can counter Muslim extremism. We in the West have always been happy to help others, and we do our best (culturally and as a community) to live by the Golden Rule; however as the number of Muslims in Western Nations grows, so does the danger that we’ll face homegrown attack. We’d like to think that by showing Islam mercy now that this would mitigate the possibility of terrorism in the future… but that just hasn’t been the case in the past.
As terrible as this humanitarian crisis has been for the Middle East, it may have even greater negative consequences for us in the West in the very near future.