Saudi Arabia has reportedly responded to the growing number of people fleeing the Middle East for western Europe – by offering to build 200 mosques in Germany…. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which quoted a report in the Lebanese newspaper Al Diyar, Saudi Arabia would build one mosque for every 100 refugees who entered Germany in extraordinary numbers last weekend.
If true, this offer should be flung back in the face of the Saudi regime (accompanied, perhaps, by an offer to build 200 churches in Saudi Arabia). When the Saudis fund mosques, they spread their own poisonous (Wahhabist) brand of Islam at the expense of less extreme varieties. A good number of those Muslims now arriving in Germany, including I suspect many Syrians (a relatively secular place prior to the opening that the civil war has given ISIS), will be fairly moderate. Exile or emigration, especially to a very different culture, is, however, frequently a highly disorientating experience, and one that could easily make someone vulnerable to the reassuring, if false certainties of a stern faith. That is what the Saudis reportedly want to have on offer. It would be the last thing that Germany needs.
Speaking of which, the Spectator’s James Forsyth turns his attention to Angela Merkel’s latest grand gesture:
There have been plenty of bad decisions taken by European politicians in the last few years. But few will cause as much misery as Angela Merkel’s refugee policy. Her decision to rip up the Dublin Convention and announce that any Syrian can claim asylum in Germany will lead to more people putting their hands in the lives of unscrupulous human traffickers as they try desperately to make it to Germany. This will, tragically, lead to more deaths.
[Merkel] has chosen to prioritise those Syrians who have already made it to Europe. These people are not in imminent fear of their lives unlike the millions of internally displaced people within Syria. It also ignores the plight of those in refugee camps on the Syrian border; the UNHCR say that they have a $795 million funding gap in their Syrian operation.
Next, Merkel — having unilaterally ripped up the Dublin Convention—wants to impose mandatory quotas for refugee resettlement on other EU states; Britain is out of this because it is one of the countries with an opt-out on this issue. The word from Brussels is that Merkel is prepared to use qualified majority voting to push this policy through against the opposition of several Eastern European governments. This is an extremely bad idea. For it is hard to think of a better way to boost anti-immigrant, populists than to force countries to take refugees against their wishes.
Then, there is the question of the future of Syria itself. By taking in those Syrians who have already Europe, Merkel is, intentionally or not, cherry-picking the more prosperous members of what used to be Syrian society, those who have sufficient resources to pay the traffickers. Without them, their ravaged country is far less likely to make a recovery once the fighting eventually stops.
Far from being an act of enlightened moral leadership, Merkel’s refugee policy is short-sighted and not properly thought through. It fails the test of true statesmanship.
As Merkel’s initiatives usually do.