Ibice (4) by’abarwanira ingoma y’ubwami bw’uRwanda

Ibice (4) by’abarwanira ingoma y’ubwami bw’uRwanda

Abantu benshi cyane babajwe ni uko kwa Rwigara Assinapol batandukanye n’Umwami Kigeli Ndoli, kandi bagatandukana nabi nyuma y’ibyabaye kubera gusuzugura itegeko ry’Uhoraho Uwiteka Imana Nyiringabo aho bategetswe gushyingira Umwami Kigeli Ndoli abakobwa More »

Umugore witwa Mukarushema yanga Uwiteka Imana Nyiringabo urunuka!!!

Umugore witwa Mukarushema yanga Uwiteka Imana Nyiringabo urunuka!!!

  Ibiro ntaramakuru byo mu ijuru «INYANGE NEWS MEDIA AGENCY» biratangaza ko mu gihugu cy’Ububiligi hari umugore witwa «MUKARUSHEMA selfish woman» wanga ubuhanuzi n’imanza zitabera z’Uhoraho Uwiteka Imana Nyiringabo. More »

The EU’s Complicity in Financing the Iranian Regime

The EU’s Complicity in Financing the Iranian Regime

Behind these seemingly benign economic [trade] transactions… lies a troubling reality: the funds generated from Europe’s trade with Iran are being funneled into activities that are now prolonging violence and conflict, and More »

France’s Skyrocketing Threat

France’s Skyrocketing Threat

January 30, 2024. The French weekly, Le Journal du Dimanche, publishes the most comprehensive and detailed survey on what French Muslims think. Not surprisingly, the results are disturbing.Every year, Muslims of France [the More »

The Report of the Jews’ Death ‘Has Been Grossly Exaggerated

The Report of the Jews’ Death ‘Has Been Grossly Exaggerated

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin misquoted Mark Twain about the Russian president’s cancer: “The rumors about my death were greatly exaggerated,” Putin was quoted as saying about his cancer by Fortune and The Guardian. Mark More »

 

Europe’s Out-of-Control Censorship by Judith Bergman

  • If Facebook insists on the rules of censorship, it should at the very least administer those rules in a fair way. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness.

  • Posts critical of Chancellor Merkel’s migrant policies, for example, can be categorized as “Islamophobia”, and are often found to violate “Community Standards”, while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook’s “Community Standards”.
  • Notwithstanding the lawsuits, Facebook’s bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah’s Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews — despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and murder of Jews.

Germany has formally announced its draconian push towards censorship of social media. On March 14, Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the plan to formalize into law the “code of conduct”, which Germany pressed upon Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in late 2015, and which included a pledge to delete “hate speech” from their websites within 24 hours.

“This [draft law] sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement announcing the planned legislation.

“Criminal” content? Statements that are deemed illegal under German law are now being conflated with statements that are merely deemed, subjectively and on the basis of entirely random complaints from social media users — who are free to abuse the code of conduct to their heart’s content — to be “hate speech”. “Hate speech” has included critiques of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s migration policies. To be in disagreement with the government’s policies is now potentially “criminal”. Social media companies, such as Facebook, are supposed to be the German government’s informers and enforcers — qualified by whom and in what way? — working at the speed of light to comply with the 24-hour rule. Rule of law, clearly, as in North Korea, Iran, Russia or any banana-republic, has no place in this system.

Maas is not pleased with the efforts of the social media companies. They do not, supposedly, delete enough reported content, nor do they delete it fast enough, according to a survey by the Justice Ministry’s youth protection agency. It found that YouTube was able to remove around 90% of “illegal” postings within a week, while Facebook deleted or blocked 39% of content and Twitter only 1%. The German minister, it seems, wants more efficiency.

“We need to increase the pressure on social networks… There is just as little room for criminal propaganda and slander [on social media] as on the streets,” said Maas. “For this we need legal regulations.” He has now presented these legal regulations in the form of a draft bill, which provides for complaints, reporting and fines.

There also appears to be no differentiation made between primary-source hate speech, as in many religious tenets, and secondary-source hate speech, reporting on the former.

According to the draft, social media platforms with more than two million users would be obliged to delete or block any criminal offenses, such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. The networks receive seven days for more complicated cases. Germany could fine a social media company up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law; it could fine a company’s chief representative in Germany up to 5 million euros.

It does not stop there. Germany does not want these measures to be limited to its own jurisdiction. It wants to share them with the rest of Europe: “In the end, we also need European solutions for European-wide companies,” said Maas. The European Union already has a similar code of conduct in place, so that should not be very hard to accomplish.

Facebook, for its part, has announced that by the end of 2017, the number of employees in complaints-management in Berlin will be increased to more than 700. A spokeswoman said that Facebook had clear rules against hate speech and works “hard” on removing “criminal content”.

If Facebook insists on operating under rules of censorship, it should at the very least aim to administer those rules in a fair manner. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness. Instead, Facebook’s practice of its so-called “Community Standards” — the standards to which Facebook refers when deleting or allowing content on its platform in response to user complaints — shows evidence of entrenched bias. Posts critical of Merkel’s migrant policies, for example, can get categorized as “Islamophobia”, and are often found to violate “Community Standards”, while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook’s “Community Standards”.

Facebook’s bias, in fact, became so pronounced that in October 2015, Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center filed an unprecedented lawsuit against Facebook on behalf of some 20,000 Israelis, to stop allowing Palestinian Arab terrorists to use the social network to incite violent attacks against Jews. The complaint sought an injunction against Facebook that required it to monitor incitement and to respond immediately to complaints about content that incites people to violence. Shurat Hadin wrote at the time:

“…Facebook is much more than a neutral internet platform or a mere ‘publisher’ of speech because its algorithms connect the terrorists to the inciters. Facebook actively assists the inciters to find people who are interested in acting on their hateful messages by offering friend, group and event suggestions … Additionally, Facebook often refuses to take down the inciting pages, claiming that they do not violate its ‘community standards’. Calling on people to commit crimes is not constitutionally protected speech and endangers the lives of Jews and Israelis”.

In 2016, Shurat Hadin filed a separate $1 billion lawsuit on behalf of five victims of Hamas terrorism and their families. They are seeking damages against Facebook under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, for Facebook’s having provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook services, which Hamas then used to carry out their terrorist activities. The US has officially designated Hamas a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” which means that it is a criminal offense to provide material support to such an organization.

Notwithstanding the lawsuits, Facebook’s bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah’s Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews — despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and the murder of Jews.

It is only a small step from imposing censorship on social media companies to asking the same of email providers, or ordering postal authorities to screen letters, magazines and brochures in the event that citizens spread supposed “xenophobia” and “fake news”. There is ample precedent for such a course of action on the continent: During the Cold War, people living behind the Iron Curtain had their private letters opened by the communist authorities; those passages deemed to be out of line with the communist orthodoxy, were simply blacked out.

Who would have thought that more than a quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), Western Europe would be reinventing itself in the image of the Soviet Union?

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Europe’s New Media Darlings: Terrorists by Giulio Meotti

  • It is such a shame and an irony that terrorists who have killed and ordered the killing of unarmed and innocent Jews, are now being celebrated as Europe’s apostles of peace.

  • Can you imagine Italian or French mayors and members of Parliament naming a street after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who murdered at least 84 people in Nice on July 14? Or honoring the brothers Salah and Brahim Abdesalem for their attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris on November 13, 2015, in which 89 people were murdered?

What would have happened if the city council of Jerusalem had conferred the honorary citizenship on Italy’s Mafia leader, Totò Riina, calling him a “political prisoner”? What would have happened if the city council of Tel Aviv had named a street after Giovanni Brusca, the Mafia butcher who kidnapped and tortured the 11-year-old son of another mafioso who had betrayed him, and then dissolved the boy’s body in acid? The Italian government would have vehemently protested. With Palestinian terrorists, however, there is another standard, as if in the eyes of many of Italy’s city councils, terror against Israeli Jews is actually justified.

In the pro-Palestinian credentials of the mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, the only item missing was giving honorary citizenship to a Palestinian terrorist. Bilal Kayed is anything but a “man of peace.” He is a dangerous Palestinian terrorist who spent 14 years in Israeli prisons for two shooting attacks, and for planning and attempting the (unsuccessful) kidnapping of a soldier. Kayed is now a new honorary citizen of Naples.

“[It is] a decision that harms the image of Naples”, protested the newly elected president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni. Meanwhile, Naples city council has refused to grant honorary citizenship to the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.

It is not the first time that Mayor De Magistris embraces anti-Israel militancy. The city of Naples provided a municipal room to show a documentary called, “Israel, The Cancer,” which shamefully compares Israeli soldiers to Nazis. Israel’s Ambassador to Italy, Naor Gilon, protested against the screening and noted that “the film’s title, ‘Israel, The Cancer’, is reminiscent of dark eras in the Italian and European history, in which Jews were defined as a disease.”

De Magistris also received reciprocal “Palestinian citizenship” from the hands of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the mayor of Naples returned the favor by granting honorary citizenship to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. De Magistris also gave his support to the “Freedom Flotilla,” a convoy of ships that tried to bring weapons to the Hamas regime in Gaza. Eleonora De Majo, a candidate on De Magistris’ political list, also called the Israelis “pigs.”

De Magistris is not the only Italian mayor who apparently prizes Palestinian terrorism. Palermo’s mayor, Leoluca Orlando, awarded honorary citizenship to Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian terrorist who orchestrated attacks that killed several people and who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison.

Many of Europe’s streets are plastered with the names of the Palestinian terrorists. The French town of Valenton named a street for Marwan Barghouti; and a few days after a priest was slaughtered this summer in France, a group of French cities planned to honor Barghouti. Towns such as Pierrefitte-sur-Seine have already awarded him honorary citizenship, and a photograph of the Palestinian terror leader was hung on the front of its city hall.

Barghouti, who masterminded the 2002 attack at the Seafood Market in Tel Aviv and a massacre in Hadera which killed six Israelis, is a man Europe’s television stations love to show handcuffed with his arms raised. He is Europe’s idol, a hero, an icon. The Guardian even published an op-ed piece by Barghouti, in which he expresses support for the “Third Intifada” of stabbing- and shooting-attacks and car-rammings.

The mayor of Palermo, Italy, Leoluca Orlando (left), awarded honorary citizenship to Marwan Barghouti (right), the Palestinian terrorist who orchestrated attacks that killed several people and who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison.

The Western press loves Barghouti and even tries to compare him to Nelson Mandela, in articles such as “The Question of Barghouti: Is He a Mandela or an Arafat?” (Time); “A Mideast Mandela” (Newsweek) and “A Nelson Mandela for the Palestinians” (New York Times).

Twenty French cities, such as Vitry-sur-Seine, La Verrière and Montataire, have granted honorary citizenship to this terrorist and plastered their streets with his disgraceful name. The Jeu de Paume National Gallery in Paris hosted an exhibition calling Palestinian suicide bombers “martyrs.” The exhibit “Death”, by photographer Ahlam Shibli, featured Palestinian suicide bombers with captions that promote the jihadist agenda of glorifying their deaths.

Bezons, an urban conglomerate just 10 kilometers from Paris, was also the first French town officially to include among its honorary citizenship the Palestinian terrorist, Majdi Rimawi, who planned and carried out the assassination of Israel’s Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001. Rimawi, who sits in an Israeli prison, was immortalized in a plaque prepared by the city of Bezons in 2013, which labels the terrorist as a “political prisoner.”

The mayor of Bezons, Dominique Lesparre, held a public speech in which he called Rimawi a “victim.” In the official document issued by Bezons City Hall, entitled “Prisonnier et citoyen d’honneur,” the fact that Rimawi is a murderer was not even mentioned.

It is such a shame and an irony that terrorists who have killed and ordered the killing of unarmed and innocent Jews, are now being celebrated as Europe’s apostles of peace. They are now even the new media darlings.

Can you imagine Italian or French mayors and members of Parliament naming a street after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who murdered at least 84 people in Nice on July 14? Or honoring the brothers Salah and Brahim Abdesalem for their attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris on November 13, 2015, in which 89 people were murdered? Or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was linked to nearly every al-Qaeda attack between 1993 and 2003?

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Europe’s New Blasphemy Courts by Douglas Murray

Europe is currently seeing the reintroduction of blasphemy laws through both the front and back doors, initiated in a country which once prided itself on being among the first in the world to throw off clerical intrusion into politics.


By prosecuting Wilders, the courts in Holland are effectively ruling that there is only one correct answer to the question Wilders asked. They are saying that if someone asks you whether you would like more Moroccans or fewer, people must always answer “more,” or he will be committing a crime. At no point would it occur to me that anyone saying he did not want an endless flow of, say, British people coming into the Netherlands should be prosecuted. Nor would he be. The long-term implications for Dutch democracy of criminalising a majority opinion are catastrophic. But the trial of Wilders is also a nakedly political move. The Dutch courts are behaving like a religious court. They are trying to regulate public expression and opinion when it comes to the followers of one religion. In so doing they obviously aspire to keep the peace in the short term, but they cannot possibly realise what trouble they are storing up for our future. Europe is currently seeing the reintroduction of blasphemy laws through both the front and back doors. In Britain, the gymnast Louis Smith has just been suspended for two months by British Gymnastics. This 27-year old sportsman’s career has been put on hold, and potentially ruined, not because of anything to do with athletics but because of something to do with Islam. Last month a video emerged online of the four-time Olympic medal-winner and a friend getting up to drunken antics after a wedding. The video — taken on Smith’s phone in the early hours of the morning — showed a friend taking a rug off a wall and doing an imitation of Islamic prayer rituals. When the video from Smith’s phone ended up in the hands of a newspaper, there was an immediate investigation, press castigation and public humiliation for the young athlete. Smith — who is himself of mixed race — was forced to parade on daytime television in Britain and deny that he is a racist, bigot or xenophobe. Notoriously liberal figures from the UK media queued up to berate him for getting drunk or for even thinking of taking part in any mockery of religion. This in a country in which Monty Python’s Life of Brian is regularly voted the nation’s favourite comic movie. After an “investigation,” the British sports authority has now deemed Smith’s behaviour to warrant a removal of funding and a two-month ban from sport. This is the re-entry of blasphemy laws through the back door, where newspapers, daytime chat-shows and sports authorities decide between them that one religion is worthy of particular protection. They do so because they take the religion of Islam uniquely on its own estimation and believe, as well as fear, the warnings of the Islamic blasphemy-police worldwide. The front-door reintroduction of blasphemy laws, meantime, is being initiated in a country which once prided itself on being among the first in the world to throw off clerical intrusion into politics. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been put on trial before. In 2010 he was tried in the courts for the contents of his film “Fitna” as well as a number of articles. The trial collapsed after one of the expert witnesses — the late, great Dutch scholar of Islam, Hans Jansen — revealed that a judge in the case had tried in private to influence him to change his testimony. The trial was transparently rigged and made Dutch justice look like that of a tin-pot dictatorship rather than one of the world’s most developed democracies. The trial was rescheduled and, after considerable legal wrangling, Wilders was eventually found “not guilty” of a non-crime in 2011. But it seems that the Dutch legal system, like the Mounties, is intent on always getting its man. On Monday of this week the latest trial of Geert Wilders got underway in Holland. This time Wilders is being tried because of a statement at a rally in front of his supporters in March 2014. Ahead of municipal elections, and following reports of a disproportionate amount of crimes being committed in Holland by Muslims of Moroccan origin, Wilders asked a crowd, “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands?” The audience responded, “Fewer, fewer.” To which Wilders responded, “Well, we’ll arrange that, then.” By prosecuting Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders for making “politcially incorrect” statements, Dutch courts are behaving like a religious court. They are trying to regulate public expression and opinion when it comes to the followers of one religion. (Source of Wilders photo: Flickr/Metropolico) Opinion polls suggest that around half the Dutch public want fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands and many opinion polls going back decades suggest that the Dutch people want less immigration in general. So at the very least Wilders is being put on trial for voicing an opinion which is far from fringe. The long-term implications for Dutch democracy of criminalizing a majority opinion are catastrophic. But the trial of Wilders is also a nakedly political move. Whether or not one feels any support for Wilders’s sentiments is not in fact the point in this case. The point is that by prosecuting someone for saying what he said, the courts in Holland are effectively ruling that there is only one correct answer to the question Wilders asked. They are saying that if someone asks you whether you would like more Moroccans or fewer, people must always answer “more,” or they will be committing a crime. What kind of way is that to order a public debate on immigration or anything else? People may say, “He wouldn’t be allowed to say that about any other group of people.” And Wilders himself may not say that about any group of people, because he has his own political views and his own interpretation of the problems facing his country. It is worth trying a thought-experiment: If Wilders or any other politician got up and asked a crowd “Do you want more or fewer British people in Holland,” I may not — as a British person — feel terribly pleased with him for asking the question, or terribly happy with the crowd if they chanted “Fewer.” Although if British expats in Holland were responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime and disorder in the country, some mitigating sympathy for the sentiment may be forthcoming. But at no point would it occur to me that anyone saying he did not want an endless flow of British people coming into the Netherlands should be prosecuted. Nor would he be. Like the behaviour of the British Gymnastics association, the Dutch courts are behaving like a religious court. They are trying to regulate public expression and opinion when it comes to the followers of one religion. In so doing, they obviously aspire to keep the peace in the short term, but they cannot possibly realise what trouble they are storing up for our future. Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.

Europe’s Migration Crisis: No End in Sight by Judith Bergman

  • According to France’s Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, 800,000 migrants are currently in Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean.

  • The multitude of very costly social problems that Muslim migration into Europe has caused thus far, do not exist in this whitewashed European Union report, where the “research” indicates that migrants are always a boon. Similarly, any mention of the very real security costs necessitated by the Islamization occurring in Europe, and the need for monitoring of potential jihadists, simply goes unmentioned.
  • Several European states have a less optimistic picture of the prospect of another three million migrants arriving on Europe’s borders than either the Pope or the European Commission do.

Pope Francis, on his recent visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, said that Europe must respond to the migrant crisis with solutions that are “worthy of humanity.” He also decried “that dense pall of indifference that clouds hearts and minds.” The Pope then proceeded to demonstrate what he believes is a response “worthy of humanity” by bringing 12 Syrian Muslims with him on his plane to Italy. “It’s a drop of water in the sea. But after this drop, the sea will never be the same,” the Pope mused.

The Pope’s speech did not contain a single reference to the harsh consequences of Muslim migration into the European continent for Europeans. Instead, the speech was laced with reflections such as “…barriers create divisions instead of promoting the true progress of peoples, and divisions sooner or later lead to confrontations” and “…our willingness to continue to cooperate so that the challenges we face today will not lead to conflict, but rather to the growth of the civilization of love.”

The Pope went back to his practically migrant-free Vatican City — those 12 Syrian Muslims will be hosted by Italy, not the Vatican, although the Holy See will be supporting them — leaving it to ordinary Europeans to cope with the consequences of “the growth of the civilization of love.”

There is nothing quite as free in this world as not practicing what you preach, and what the Pope is preaching is the acceptance of more migration into Europe, and more migration — much more — is indeed what is in the cards for Europe.

At the UN’s Geneva conference on Syrian refugees on March 30, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, put the total number of asylum seekers into Italy in the first three months of 2016 at 18,234. This is already 80% higher than in the same period in 2015.

According to Paolo Serra, military adviser to Martin Kobler, the UN’s Libya envoy, migrants currently in Libya will head for Italy in large numbers if the country is not stabilized. “If we do not intervene, there could be 250,000 arrivals [in Italy] by the end of 2016,” he said. According to France’s Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the number is much higher: 800,000 migrants are currently in Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean.

Already in November 2015, the European Union estimated — in its Autumn 2015 European Economic Forecast, authored by the European Commission — that by the end of 2016, another three million migrants will have made it into the European Union.

Nevertheless, the European Commission optimistically noted that, “while unevenly distributed among countries, the estimated additional public expenditure related to the arrival of asylum seekers is limited for most EU member states.” It even concluded that the migrant crisis could have a small, positive impact on European economies within a few years citing that “Research indicates that non-EU migrants typically receive less in individual benefits than they contribute in taxes and social contribution.”

This is the classic, politically correct denial of facts on the ground. The multitude of very costly social problems that Muslim migration into Europe has caused thus far do not exist in this whitewashed report, where the “research” indicates that migrants are always a boon. Similarly, any mention of the very real security costs necessitated by the Islamization that is occurring in Europe and the consequent need for monitoring of potential jihadists, simply goes unmentioned. One wonders whether the EU bureaucrats, who authored this report, ever descend from their ivory towers and move about in the real Europe.

Several European states have a less optimistic picture of the prospect of another three million migrants arriving on Europe’s borders than either the Pope or the European Commission do. In February, Austria announced that it would introduce border controls at border crossings along frontiers with Italy, Slovenia and Hungary. On April 12, Austria began preparations for introducing border controls on its side of the Brenner Pass, the main Alpine crossing into Italy, by starting work on a wall between the two countries.

The Austrian decision to close the Brenner pass has received harsh criticism from the EU. European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud criticized the measure as unwarranted, claiming that “there is indeed no evidence that flows of irregular migrants are shifting from Greece to Italy”. Is Bertaud deliberately misrepresenting the issue? The issue is not whether the migrants are shifting from Greece to Italy after the EU’s unsavory deal with Turkey (they probably will) but the up to 800,000 migrants are already waiting to cross into Italy from Libya.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos joined in the criticism of Austria, saying, “What is happening at the border between Italy and Austria is not the right solution.” He had criticized Austria already in February, when Vienna announced that it would cap asylum claims at 80 per day. At the time, Avramopoulos said,

“It is true that Austria is under huge pressure… It is true they are overwhelmed. But, on the other hand, there are some principles and laws that all countries must respect and apply… The Austrians are obliged to accept asylum applications without putting a cap.”

In response, Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann told the EU that Austria could not just let the influx of migrants continue unchecked — nearly 100,000 have applied for asylum in Austria — and he called for the EU to act. The EU has not yet acted.

The EU should hardly be surprised that a sovereign state decides to take matters into its own hands in the face of the EU’s failure to heed that call, and as it anticipates a repeat of last year’s migration chaos — which, given the predicted estimates, is bound to occur this year with even greater force.

Predictably, Italy has also criticized the decision, with Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano saying that Austria’s decision to erect the barrier is “unexplainable and unjustifiable.” Italy, however, only has itself to blame for Austria’s restrictions at the Brenner Pass. In 2014 and the first half of 2015, around 300,000 migrants arrived in Italy, mainly from Libya. Despite EU rules that require Italy to register those migrants, Italy simply let most of them pass through the country and continue into Austria. From there, most went further into Germany and Northern Europe. Clearly, Austria does not expect the Italians to change their practices.

Austrian police prepare to hold the line at the Brenner Pass border crossing with Italy, as a crowd tries to break through during a violent protest on April 3, 2016, against Austria’s introduction of border controls to stem the flow of migrants. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

While the bureaucrats of the EU bicker with their member states over those states’ unwillingness to follow EU regulations — evidently not made to cope with a migration crisis of these huge proportions — Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to drop his obligations under a recent EU-Turkey migration deal. Those obligations include taking back all new “irregular migrants” crossing from Turkey into Greek islands, as well as taking any necessary measures to prevent the opening of new sea or land routes for migration from Turkey to the EU. “There are precise conditions. If the European Union does not take the necessary steps, then Turkey will not implement the agreement,” Erdogan warned recently in a speech in Ankara.

Erdogan knows that in the current European reality, his words have the effect he intends: When he threatens to flood Europe with migrants unless it does what he wants — in other words, blackmail — EU leaders will do what he says. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the driving forces behind the EU-Turkey deal, also recently bowed to Erdogan’s demands that Germany prosecute the satirist Jan Böhmermann, after he mocked and insulted the Turkish president in a poem. The German criminal code prohibits insults against foreign leaders, but leaves it to the government to decide whether to authorize prosecutors to pursue such cases. Angela Merkel gave her authorization, a decision widely criticized. Her own ministers — Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Justice Minister Heiko Maas — said they did not believe that the authorization should have been granted.

Another indication that Erdogan has no reason to fear any misbehavior on the part of the European Union regarding the EU-Turkey deal is that the European Parliament just voted in favor of making Turkish an official European Union language. Ostensibly, the vote came about in order to back an initiative by the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, who asked the Dutch EU Presidency to add Turkish to the bloc’s 24 official languages in order to boost attempts to reach a reunification agreement for Cyprus.

In his letter to the EU presidency, Anastasiades noted that Cyprus had already filed a similar request during its EU entry talks in 2002, but, at that time, it “was advised by the [EU] institutions not to insist, taking into account the limited practical purpose of such a development … as well as the considerable cost”. Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, which Turkey invaded in 1974, is one of the issues blocking Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU.

Making Turkish an official language is seen by Turkey, according to a senior Turkish official, as “a very important, very positive gesture” for the Cyprus peace talks and for EU-Turkish ties more broadly. “If the blockage is lifted because of Cyprus being solved, then we can proceed very quickly,” the Turkish official said.

All of the other official and working languages of the European Union are tied to states which are full members of the EU. Although the vote has to be approved by the European Commission before the decision can come into effect, it speaks volumes about the EU’s deference to Erdogan.

In light of these developments, the granting of visa-free travel to European Union states for 80 million Turks looks as if it is a done deal, despite the 72 conditions, which Turkey, at least on paper, is expected to live up to. These include increasing the use of biometric passports and other technical requirements. So far, Turkey has only met half of these conditions. Perhaps that is why European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently felt the need to mention that, “Turkey must fulfill all remaining conditions so that the Commission can adopt its proposal in the coming months. The criteria will not be watered down.” The question is whether Juncker himself even believes his own words.

With the provisions on visa-free travel for 80 million Turks, the EU may just have gone from the frying pan into the fire. The visa-free admission of Turks into Europe would give Erdogan completely free rein to control the influx of migrants into Europe. Moreover, anyone believing that Erdogan would not take great advantage of this opportunity would have to be dangerously naïve. The European Union may yet conclude that the migrant crisis, in all its enormity, is the far lesser evil.

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Europe’s Leaders: Shielding Themselves from Reality by Judith Bergman

  • Shielding heads of state from seeing the consequences of the policies that they themselves have forced on the entire European continent represents a staggering new level of hypocrisy.

  • Why do the citizens of Europe need to ‘broaden their horizons,’ while the people in power protect themselves from the reality they themselves imposed on everyone else? This attitude, far from democratic, borders on the atmosphere prevalent in Europe during the bygone days of Europe’s absolute monarchs.
  • While it is true that “everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle,” the answer to that problem is not fatalistically to sit back and wait for the migrant influx. The answer is, based on a new starting-date, to change Europe’s outdated and unsustainable welfare policies, which stem from a pre-globalization era, and in this way actively work to make it less attractive for millions of migrants to venture to the European continent in the first place.

When the G7 heads of state arrive in Taormina, Sicily, for the G7 meeting on May 26, they will find themselves in an embellished, picture-postcard version of European reality. Italy, the host of the G7 meeting, has announced that it will close all harbors on the island to ships that arrive with migrants ( mainly from Libya) for the duration of the two-day meeting. The reason for the closure of the Italian island to migrants is to protect the G7 meeting from potential terrorist attacks. According to Italian reports, “the Department of Public Safety believes that the boats with illegal immigrants could be hiding an Islamist threat”.

G7 meetings are, of course, always subject to a host of high-level security measures. However, shielding heads of state from seeing the consequences of the policies that they themselves have forced on the entire European continent represents a staggering new level of hypocrisy. Literally altering reality in order to present a whitewashed picture of the influx of migrants into Europe, which happens largely through Italy, is a Potemkin measure, regardless of terror risks. Heads of state, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Italy seeks to protect from a terrorist risk, seem not to care particularly about the very real terrorist risks that European citizens are forced to live with daily thanks to the migrant policies of these heads of state.

In 2015, when asked how Europe could be protected against Islamization, Merkel, who does not move without her own personal security team consisting of 15-20 armed bodyguards, carelessly said: “Fear is not a good adviser. It is better that we should have the courage once again to deal more strongly with our own Christian roots.” In December 2016, she told members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who were asking how to reassure the public about the problem of integrating migrants, “This could also broaden your horizons.”

Why do the citizens of Europe need to ‘broaden their horizons,’ while the people in power, who forced them to do that, protect themselves from the reality they themselves imposed on everyone else? This attitude, far from democratic, borders on the atmosphere prevalent in Europe during the bygone days of Europe’s absolute monarchs.

Being confronted with the results of their policies by seeing the migrants as they arrive in Sicily could be helpful in bringing these heads of state back to reality in Europe.

Migrants, who crossed from Libya, disembark the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ‘Phoenix’ vessel on May 20, 2017 in Trapani (Sicily), Italy. (Image source: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

According to the UNHCR, there were 362,753 Mediterranean migrant arrivals in Europe in 2016 – compared to more than a million people who arrived in Europe in the record year 2015, when Merkel invited asylum seekers to come to Germany.

Out of these migrants, the majority, 181,436, crossed the Mediterranean into Italy in 2016 and another 173,450 crossed the Mediterranean into Greece. According to the UNHCR, 55,374 migrants have already arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean, between January 1, 2017 and May 19, 2017. The majority (almost 46,000) have arrived in Italy, but some also arrived in Spain (3,200) and Greece (6,100). The most common nationalities of these migrants are Nigeria (17%), Bangladesh (10.7%), Guinea (9.7%), Cote d’Ivoire (9.1%), Gambia (6.6%), Syria (6.1%), Senegal (5.9%), Morocco (5.6%) and a total of 10% from “unspecified” countries. Most of these arrivals, evidently, are not refugees, but economic migrants.

Nevertheless, as Soeren Kern writes, Europe is unrelenting in pursuing its old, dysfunctional policies. On May 2, 2017, Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, urged the EU:

“take the last concrete steps to gradually return, as we have repeatedly said many times before, to a normal functioning of the Schengen Area. This is our goal, and it remains unchanged. A fully functioning area, free from internal border controls”.

What he seems to be saying, in other words, is that the EU would like to see a return to the complete border chaos that reigned in Europe in 2015, until several EU nations reinstated pre-Schengen border controls. Avramopoulos “notably recommended” that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway phase out “the temporary controls in place at some of their internal Schengen borders over the following six months”. These are the countries that experienced the most chaos from migrants eager to reach those wealthy countries’ borders, after Angela Merkel invited asylum seekers in.

It seems inconceivable to European politicians, evidently, that the answer to the large wave of migrants seeking a better economic future for themselves on the European continent (eight to ten million migrants could be on the way), might be countered by something other than open arms and a continuation of the old welfare policies.

While it is true, as said by German Development Minister Gerd Müller, that “In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle,” the answer to that problem is not fatalistically to sit back and wait for the migrant influx. The answer is, based on a new starting-date, to change Europe’s outdated and unsustainable welfare policies, which stem from a pre-globalization era, and in this way actively work to make it less attractive for millions of migrants to venture to the European continent in the first place.

In addition, European leaders appear not to care that their continuing migration policies and welfare systems support an entire industry of human traffickers, who prey on the desire of hopeful migrants to reach Europe; the traffickers are making billions.

According to the [Europol] report, migrant smuggling in 2015 earned crime bosses up to £4.9billion (€5.7billion), with profits dropping to around £1.7billion (€2billion) last year as the number of people entering the EU illegally fell to around 510,000.

Europol said: “Migrant smuggling has emerged as one of the most profitable and widespread criminal activities for organised crime in the EU.

“The migrant smuggling business is now a large, profitable and sophisticated criminal market, comparable to the European drug markets.”

European politicians are indirectly responsible for the existence of this industry.

Italy may think that it is protecting G7 leaders such as Angela Merkel from potential terrorist attacks during the G7 meeting in Taormina by closing Sicilian harbors to migrants. But by shielding from reality politicians who are already solidly detached from it, they are exposing the European citizenry — whom those politicians are supposed to protect — to even greater risks.

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

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