Violent acts plague migrants seeking shelter and new lives in Europe

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As 2016 begins, the surge of Syrian refugees continues to flow from the Middle East into Europe at a rapid pace. Millions have fled Syria and dispersed wherever they can, many hoping to find a safe haven in the European Union. Despite many coming with hopes only of peace, violence has continued to follow them out of their homeland and into the areas of refuge. Violent actions have continued to occur in response to the emigration of these Syrian refugees who are attempting to make a life for themselves in a brand new country.

Refugees leaving Syria are leaving a country that has been war-torn for years now. Collapsing buildings line the streets that once were the home of industry and growth. Military members stalk the streets that once held open air markets on Sundays. Cities that were once lively and crowded are eerily silent today due to the danger which has kept many citizens inside and forced others to leave Syria altogether. However, the towns they have escaped to are not safe either. Racism is rampant within these towns, so with more migrants coming every day, it only means that more acts of hate have occurred.

A swimming pool in Germany has responded to the flood of refugees —1.1 million in Germany over the course of 2015 — by banning migrant men from entering the premises. Sexual attacks at said swimming pool have been traced back to migrant men from a nearby shelter, to which the private owners of the pool decided the best response was to enforce the ban. This ban comes after the Cologne Attacks, and many claim it comes as a response to the fear these attacks provoked.

The Cologne Attacks were a series of attacks in Germany on New Year’s Eve. Almost 500 women have reported being sexually assaulted during these attacks, four of which being rape accounts, multiple protests turned to riots by violent attacks and many other criminal acts plagued the city of Cologne over the course of the night.

Out of the many involved, 19 of the men were confirmed migrants, 14 of which were from Morocco and Algeria. As many as 1,000 men were involved in the attacks, the majority being anti-immigrant supporters. Some of the more public assaults linked to these attacks included a female journalist live on air being groped and a governor with pro-immigrant views being stabbed in late January.

Many European citizens see the immigrants as a dangerous burden for their country, claiming that they are coming to preach violent tendencies and invoke hate. Others point out that more than 3,000 migrants come into Germany alone each day, and labeling this large of a group of people as dangerous is unhelpful and worsens the situation.

Ava Badger, a junior at SLV, said that it’s a form of injustice and racism to take the actions of a small minority and apply it to that of such a large population. She said, “In America, we don’t judge white people by the actions of white terrorism, and I don’t think it’s right to do that with Syrian refugees either.”

Before these attacks occurred, migrants in Europe could only be tried if their crime was one that would give them a sentence that was longer than a year. The attacks have prompted support to change this policy and enable people to try migrants for all crimes. This worries many, as this could lead to many more deportations back into the unsafe conditions that plague war-torn Middle Eastern countries.

Similar attacks occurred in Stockholm, Sweden at around the same time but there is a lack of evidence to prove any kind of correlation between the two events. Both of these attacks come after the widely covered Paris attacks of November 2015. While the Paris attacks were coordinated by terrorists, these attacks do not have any confirmed ties to terrorist organizations.

Abigail Parle, a junior, said that, “I think the world powers are working really hard to help the refugees, but more definitely needs to be done to ensure their safety. People are people, so it’s important to help others not only in crisis, but whenever possible.”

By Serena Mendoza

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