The discourse around the refugee crisis has been incredibly depressing and has been sickening at times. Columnists have dehumanised these people and policy-makers have ignored them for political expedience. As a result the dominant ideology, when it comes to this issue specifically, is one that is incredibly right-wing. Across Europe right-wing populism has risen in popularity and the rhetoric towards refugees has been increasingly xenophobic. An example that is often given is the social problems that large numbers of refugees cause especially in Germany. Here is a story that puts a different complexion on this view.
A Syrian refugee by the name of Jabu al-Bakr was living in the German city of Chemnitz. A police raid was carried out on his apartment and he fled the area. At this apartment the police discovered a huge amount of explosives and quickly deduced that al-Bakr was planning a terrorist attack. After fleeing for a few days al-Bakr tried to find accommodation in another city. Reportedly he was cagey about the police at train stations and other transport hubs.
A group of three Syrians living in Leipzig were happy to oblige and one of the group picked up al-Bakr in their car. That evening, as al-Bakr slept, the three went online to discuss with other Syrians if their new acquaintance was a fugitive. After learning that he held sympathies with ISIS, the three tied him up with electrical cables and called the police. According to Al Jazeera one of the men, who has been given the pseudonym Mohamed A, said: “he offered us €1,000…to let us go. I’m so grateful to Germany for letting us in. I couldn’t let him do that to Germans”.
On Tuesday, the day following al-Bakr’s arrest, the mayor of Leipzig Burkhard Jung said that he, on behalf of the whole city, thanked the three Syrians but would continue their anonymity because of the risk of reprisals. After it was discovered that the applications of these three individuals were still being processed, Die Linke MP Andre Hahn has called on these brave refugees all to be given asylum immediately. In a statement to Bayerischer Rundfunk, a German radio station, Hahn said that recognition: “would be very important for all honest refugees who need help and who in their absolute majority have nothing to do with this self-styled Islamic State or any other terrorist activities”.
This kind of story is ignored by most media outlets because it is not dramatic, but these stories need to be told because otherwise the discourse around refugees remains toxic. The fear of ‘The Other’ has become normalised in many societies but these stories humanise refugees and reveal our common values. This is a story that represents the vast majority of Muslims around the world. The fact that countries like Britain and the US have done so little to help these suffering people is a source of shame.