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19th Nov 2015

Facts about Paris attacks suggest refugee backlash is unfounded and dangerous

Nooruddean Choudry

The unsubstantiated blame game started as soon as the tragic events in Paris became depressingly apparent.

As shocking images and bone-chilling reports flickered across our television screens, the conjecture commenced in earnest.

In equal parts understandable debate and irresponsible assumption, the facts were padded out by what was essentially guesswork.

The very nature of rolling news is that airtime needs to be filled by something, anything. The vacuum of immediate information is therefore filled by rambling supposition.

With sad predictability, the spotlight of suspicions fell on Syrian refugees. The BBC, normally perceived as a bastion of relative sense, were criticised for jumping very quickly to such a conclusion…

What has followed is a hardening of attitudes to innocent civilians who are ironically trying to escape from the very terrorists who have now made their lives more difficult in Europe.

Right-of-centre politicians in both the UK and the United States have used the climate of heightened fear to push for a curb on taking in refugees, painting them as a potential danger.

Opportunistic nationalist organisations are also pushing the message that the ‘unstoppable wave of immigration’ is bringing ‘fanaticism to our door’. Close the borders, they stress.

Newspaper cartoons echoing 1930s Nazi propaganda against Jewish people don’t help in elevating the debate beyond misplaced fear and hateful prejudice…

It is therefore something of a pleasant surprise when a major news outlet cuts through the bullsh*t with some clear facts. Like the New York Times’ breakdown of the known intelligence.

Their straightforward infographic about the Paris attackers is telling, in that none of them are actually Syrian nationals…

Of course there are links to Syria, and a number of the perpetrators/suspects have visited the country, because that is where ISIS have a stronghold.

But the inconvenient truth for those spreading anti-refugee rhetoric and pushing a harmful xenophobic agenda is that fleeing refugees are not the danger they are portrayed to be.

Not that it will stop some people from believing the contrary regardless.