Lots Of Ignorance And Little Context Is Fueling Hungary’s Heavy-Handed Crackdown On Refugees

With a two-thirds majority, Hungary’s parliament gave the police and army broad new powers to fight illegal refugees crossing their border, including giving troops the right to use weapons including rubber bullets, pyrotechnical devices, tear gas grenades and net guns. The police will now also be able to enter private homes to search for migrants who entered the country illegally.

A man clutches on to a young child as violence intensifies in Hungary. (REUTERS)

Even if not all the people arriving are fleeing the war in Syria directly, Hungary’s populist PM’s claims that the new arrivals are not refugees but rather “economic migrants” in search of a better life is as inaccurate as it is misleading. Emphasizing the fact that these Syrians ‘voluntarily’ left camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and that their lives are not in danger there reveals an ignorant and simplistic understanding of the consequences of war and the dangers and refugees face once they escape to neighboring countries. It also reflects the media’s regrettable pattern of focusing mostly on the masses arriving into Europe, without taking time and efforts to provide context and explain what life has been like for Syrians living in these neighboring countries, and why so many feel they have no choice but to try to escape to Europe.

A refugee is being manhandled by police. (REUTERS)

Worse, warnings by countries like Lebanon, which suggested that as many as 20,000 ISIS fighters may sneak into Europe by posing as refugees, creates more xenophobia and is sure to prompt more countries to take drastic and short-sighted measures in addressing the crisis

Like what you read? Give Ahmed Shihab-Eldin a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.