By Emma Osborne
Following the atrocious act of terrorism in Berlin on the 19th of December, many right-wing and populist figures are calling for an end to free movement across Europe, citing the Tunisian attacker’s escape through France to Italy as evidence that the Schengen zone is unsafe. Nigel Farage was among those to express this view, tweeting that “the free movement of good people also means the free movement of bad people”. International media has once again demonised the large groups of innocent asylum seekers in Europe by lumping them in with evil individuals, such as the terrorist who committed the attack in Berlin. The implication of assigning the description “asylum-seeker” to this terrorist is that the attack was allowed to happen through Angela Merkel’s poor policy regarding asylum seekers and, by extension, that if Merkel were to prevent asylum seekers from entering Germany, that the attack would not have happened.
The truth of the matter is that, as Fleet Street Fox (Susie Boniface) wrote for The Mirror, “Anis Amri was not a refugee and this is NOT Angela Merkel’s fault”. In fact, Amri claimed asylum as a minor in Italy but was arrested following a series of crimes and sentenced to four years in prison. The Italian government then attempted to deport Amri to Tunisia, his country of origin, but were unable to complete the deportation as the Tunisian government failed to provide the correct paperwork. Having been ordered to leave Italy Amri then attempted to claim asylum in Germany, but his claim was rejected. Amri was released due to a lack of identity documents and after being arrested in Germany, the country asked Tunisia to provide a passport so that he could be deported. At no point was the terror suspect welcomed into either of the European countries in which he attempted to claim asylum, and at no point did he form part of the group of terrified asylum seekers fleeing from war-torn countries. Rather, Anis Amri was one of the despicable individuals that the asylum seekers are desperately risking their lives to escape.
In their snap reactions to the emerging reports of the Berlin attack - that an act of terrorism had been carried out by a man suspected to be linked to so-called Islamic State – Mr Farage, along with the majority of the media, failed to mention the overwhelming presence of good people. The rightful driver of the lorry involved in the attack, Lukasz Urban, was a Polish national who tragically lost his life having likely saved those of hundreds more. Urban’s body was found in the lorry after the attack, covered in blood, and it has been reported that he likely fought with the driver. This caused Amri to abort his attack earlier than he had planned, swerving out of the crowds and fleeing the vehicle. Had it not been for the presence of Mr Urban in the cab, it is possible that many more innocent people would have been killed. It is worth noting, then, that Mr Urban would not have been in Germany were it not for the freedom of movement across Europe. We must not stop the free movement of innocent, good people for the sake of a much smaller number of people who abuse this right.
It is the focus on the terrible individuals who exist in the world that encourages an environment of fear and hatred, which terrorists feed on to encourage radicalisation. The more we treat those of different cultures, ethnicities and religions with caution and hostility, the more we turn away those vulnerable people, into the grips of terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State. It is only natural that those who have lost all hope, have been forced to flee their homes and who have nothing, will turn to those who offer them a warm welcome. And who would offer a warmer welcome than a terrorist group that needs angry, vulnerable and willing recruits?
We must be the alternative. The good people in Europe, and in the world as a whole, far outweigh the bad, and refugees and asylum seekers are no different. We must band together now and unite against the hatred that attempts to drive us apart through despicable acts of terrorism. Turning against one another will do nothing. We are stronger than them.
Farage wants closed borders. Here's why he's wrong. Reviewed by Student Voices on 16:32 Rating: