Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paris Attacks Fuel Anti-Migrant Backlash. Will Europe's Door Stay Open?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paris Attacks Fuel Anti-Migrant Backlash. Will Europe's Door Stay Open?

Article excerpt

As Islamic State atrocities intensified throughout 2014, Muslims in many countries braced for a generalized backlash and fought back with a viral media campaign: #NotInMyName.

Now, in the wake of the Paris attacks - and the enormous flow of refugees into Europe this summer - it's Europe's migrants who are feeling targeted. A new online campaign has launched to challenge the growing conflation of terrorism with migration: #IAmAMigrant.

Migrants have emerged as the scapegoats of the Paris attacks after news broke that a perpetrator of the rampage may have entered France via the migrant trail. The revelation has further stressed a Europe whose sense of solidarity and identity has been profoundly tested by the sheer volume of refugees crossing its borders. Right- wing politicians and heads of state in Europe - now joined by state governors in the United States - are calling for doors and borders to be closed.

Just as #NotInMyName aimed to show Muslims as peace-loving citizens of the world, #IAmAMigrant, organized by the London-based Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, aims to humanize those fleeing war and terror, most of whom are Muslim.

"Migrants are targeted by what happened, and EU policies are going to come down on them," says Philippe Moreau Defarges, a foreign affairs expert at the French Institute of International Relations. "I expect there will be a major breakdown of policies we've worked hard to put into place."

'Paris changes everything'The link to the migrant trail formed after a passport from Syria was found next to the body of one of the suicide bombers who blew themselves up at France's national stadium. Authorities said his fingerprints were later matched to those of a migrant recorded in Greece, the entry point for many migrants in Europe.

Now more than half of US governors have said they won't accept Syrian refugees, while European politicians have promised to roll up their welcome mat. A day after the attack, Poland said it would reject asylum seekers that it had previously agreed to take in under EU burden-sharing quotas, while France's right-wing National Front called for "an immediate halt" to new arrivals.

In Germany, pressure has ramped up on Chancellor Angela Merkel. She has maintained throughout the fall that Germany will not limit the number of asylum cases the country will consider. Yet her traditional conservative allies from southern Bavaria, where most migrants enter Germany, have called on her to reverse her open-door policy after thousands of Syrians, Afghans, and residents of the Balkans poured over the border.

"The days of unchecked immigration and illegal entry can't continue," Bavaria's Finance Minister Markus Soder said over the weekend. "Paris changes everything."

It's a message that Christian Molling, a security policy fellow at the Marshall Fund in Berlin, says only serves IS objectives.

"If we close our borders, we start to limit liberal societies," he says. "That is what they want to achieve. That is always the objective of terrorism."

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, has called for more "orderly procedures" when registering asylum seekers. …

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