Should refugees be vetted on the basis of religion?

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A Syrian migrant, who said he was pressured by Austria to leave the country for Slovakia, holds prayer beads in front of a building acting as a temporary refugee camp in Gabcikovo, Slovakia, on October 8, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/David W Cerny
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-REFUGEES-RELIGION, originally transmitted on Nov. 18, 2015.

A Syrian migrant, who said he was pressured by Austria to leave the country for Slovakia, holds prayer beads in front of a building acting as a temporary refugee camp in Gabcikovo, Slovakia, on October 8, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/David W Cerny *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-REFUGEES-RELIGION, originally transmitted on Nov. 18, 2015.

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ROME (RNS) The slaughter in Paris of 129 people and injuring of hundreds has intensified the debate in Europe about whether Syrian refugees pose a threat. The debate has spilled across the Atlantic.

  • Larry

    “While the passport may not be genuine…”

    Which means the proof that IS is planting terrorists among the refugees has no basis in fact. The last time we turned away refugees because from an “undesirable religious group” we consigned thousands of people to death camps. Sectarian bigotry has no place here.

    We have a system for dealing with asylum seekers. It works and has a long history of absorbing large numbers of people with cultures which are seemingly at odds with the majoritarian one.

    Europeans are bad examples to go by. Too much of their national identity and policies are linked to race, religion and ethnicity in a way the US never was. Most of them still don’t really get the nature of immigration or a heterogenous society.

    To turn away refugees from Syria right now is to play into IS hands. To keep more people under their thumb or to be massacred by them. To demonstrate to Muslims throughout the world, the West hates them. This is exactly the wrong stance…

  • Bernardo

    I am sure countries like Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia would be more than happy to accept these refugees. If not, why not? And they can walk there.

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  • Dominic

    Slam the door on all immigrants for the time being. Our noble notion of taking in the hungry, the unwashed, the frightened, remains noble but presently deadly. Until the gurus of Islam can bring their faith under control and into the 21st Century, keep the emigrants in Muslim lands…..most of which have tons of money to incorporate them.

  • Bob

    My 2 thumbs up to that post, Larry.

  • Bob

    Dom, read Larry’s comments. Really.

  • larry

    “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    The idea that we turn people away because we are “afraid they are the wrong religion” is repugnant to the nature and values of this nation. No good has ever come to this country from hysteria about immigrants and refugees.

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  • Dominic

    I read it..really….and its an ideological call for humanitarianism. Noble.
    The conditions today have changed, where the terrorists use our ethics against us. They have no qualms about sending wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Muslim nations have plenty of room and money to protect them. Who cares if their propaganda uses this as a statement of hatred? We need to defend the reality, not put on a false display of love.

  • Bob

    Thanks for acknowledging that you will readily compromise principles that you agree to support.

  • Observer

    It is good to have an open door to legal immigrants who bring a real desire to improve their life and leave in peace in a new land. There are many skilled and educated middle class Syrians that can offer their talents to America. We should be open especially to those from Middle Eastern religious minorities that should be welcomed.

    It is fine to coat things in the idealism of multiculturalism and freedom of religions. Muslims do not have a good track history of coexisting as a minority with other religions look at India over the centuries, Lebanon, Cyprus, east Africa and the remnants of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. Hopefully, some sects of Islam can learn to take a more global view and reject the fundamentalists. Just a cautionary note.

    The US has a couple hundred thousand US citizens of Syrian decent already which have done as well as anybody. So we should give it a try. With any group there be a few bad apples.

  • RMW

    A year ago now (Nov 2014), the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, a social research outfit based in Doha, Qatar, published a survey they have done on Arab citizens, including Syrian refugees specifically (http://english.dohainstitute.org/file/Get/40ebdf12-8960-4d18-8088-7c8a077e522e).

    They discovered that 13% of Syrian refugees had positive views of the Islamic State (Figure 11) and an even larger 31% opposed efforts to destroy the Islamic State (Figure 2).

    Assuming these figures remained constant, if America accepts say 10000 Syrian refugees, that would mean potentially letting in some 1300-3100 IS supporters and sympathizers. Good luck with that. This non-American can only wonder why you wanted it.

    And if the worst does happen and they start attacking people, maybe their first targets ought to be people who wanted them in. You welcomed them.

    And isn’t a fake passport a sign that you don’t really know who you are letting in?

  • Larry

    “And isn’t a fake passport a sign that you don’t really know who you are letting in?”

    Not at all. Especially when the fake passport was planted to cast suspicion on refugees.

    Police believe attackers used forged passports to stigmatize refugees
    http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/police-believe-attackers-used-forged-passports-to-stigmatize-refugees-1.2662167

    “Islamic State has frequently said one of its goals is to stop refugees from fleeing Syria by any means possible, and tells refugees they are committing “a major dangerous sin” by attempting to flee the war and entering countries where they will be assimilated or integrated into “Christianity, atheism or liberalism.”

    The group has used photos and video of children who have drowned in its propaganda, telling refugees they are throwing away their “lives and souls” by going to Europe.”

    Btw the Gulf states (like Qatar) have been I-S’s big benefactor. Your study is tainted by such association.

  • JT Eberhard

    Scotland is taking refugees.
    Canada is taking refugees.
    Argentina has 300 refugee families.
    Australia has 2200 and will accept 12,000 more.
    Austria has 18,000.
    Brazil has 1740.
    Bulgaria has over 5,000 with another 5,000 expected this year.
    Germany has 105,000.
    Greece has over 88,000.
    Jordan has absorbed some 500,000 Syrian refugees.
    Kuwait has an estimated 120,000 Syrian nationals.
    As of April 2015, there are 1,196,560 estimated Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
    Malaysia will take 3000.
    New Zealand will take 800.
    Norway will take 8,000.
    About 5,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Russia since 2012.
    Slovenia has reportedly considered housing “up to 10,000″ refugees.
    Sweden already has 38,636.
    As of April 2015, there are 2,138,999 estimated Syrian refugees in Turkey.
    Britain has over 5,000 so far and plans to accept another 20,000.
    Venezuela is prepared to give asylum to 20,000 refugees from Syria.

  • dale

    TO be honest, I agree with the suggestion of using (probably NATO, as the UN is useless in this situation…what a shock! NOT!) forces to create zones in Syria and Iraq that can be used as refugee safehavens, protected by actual boots on the ground. Establish enough of, and large enough of these areas would at least reduce the need to even have this conversation.

    Of course this would require actual combat troops. I.E….boots on the ground. And given the reality that many western leaders cannot even bring themselves to actually acknowledge the threat posed in this region, it is not likely that they will allow this to happen. That said, the answer to your question is No. We cannot, must not show favoritism of any sort. But the vetting process must be improved. That fake passport says alot to anybody who wants to listen.

  • RMW

    So is the police belief verified? And in any case it still doesn’t solve the fundamental issue of you don’t really know who’s coming in now if they use fake passports right?
    And you demonstrate a contradiction. You dismiss that study by claiming it is tainted by being associated with supposed IS benefactors but then you seem to automatically accept what IS says (or is claimed to have said) about refugees.

  • larry

    More verified than the nonsense being slung around by conservative politicians here!

    France is even taking in 30,000 more refugees after the attacks. Obviously they do not consider them the threat that hysterical, low information, xenophobic American pundits do.

    I dismiss a study from a source which is friendly to I-S and I repeat what I-S tells the public about their own goals and actions. One is claiming to be factual, but isn’t. The other is a statement of intention. Nothing contradictory.

    You are engaging in cheap unsubstantiated panic which ultimately benefits Islamic State. It keeps more people under their thumb or available to be exploited. How does it feel to be helping terrorists?

  • RMW

    @Larry
    “More verified than the nonsense being slung around by conservative politicians here!”
    Mere assertion.

    “France is even taking in 30,000 more refugees after the attacks.”
    Which may ultimately do them no good. The known terrorist attackers were Muslim immigrants or descendants of Muslim immigrants who came in years ago. They are just importing more trouble.

    “I dismiss a study from a source which is friendly to I-S..”
    More like you don’t like what you read. I can just as well dismiss all you said.

    “..I repeat what I-S tells the public about their own goals and actions. ”
    So believing of you of IS. You are probably on the way to becoming one of their converts.

    “How does it feel to be helping terrorists?”
    I am not. You are.

  • RMW

    @Larry
    And going back to the passport thing:
    “Fingerprints from Paris bomber match man registered in Greece: prosecutor”:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/16/us-france-shooting-bomber-greece-idUSKCN0T50U420151116#g5TPpWcOeczx2Uqk.97

    You don’t really know who you are really letting in are you?

  • larry

    I am not the one trying to create a panic over people fleeing war, genocide and enslavement. Nor am I taking sources known to be friendly to I-S as a factual sources. I am however taking the stated intentions of I-S seriously.

    As well as applying a little bit of non-hysterical common sense to a situation. Plus if you had read your own linked article, you would know the passport was not verified as Syrian.

    The claims about the refugee vetting process being non-existent or inadequate are fueled less by fact and more by political opportunism and bigotry. Any excuse to say “No Muslims allowed here”. Precisely the kind of nonsense I-S loves for us to do. Its the panicky types here which make it easy for Islamicists to recruit and find support.

  • RMW

    @Larry
    Let’s see. Man showed up at Greece with a Syrian passport (now suspected to be fake) purporting to be a refugee and is the same one person who launched a terrorist attack.
    You don’t really know who you are letting in do you?

    You don’t like people demonising the whole Muslim faith, but then you go around demonising everything from Qatar. Interesting.

  • larry

    “Now suspected to be fake”. More proof of what I was saying about the conscious effort to attack the refugees in the eyes of the West. Fake Syrian passports used to PRETEND people coming in are refugees.

    The idea of trying to sneak terrorists into the US as refugee is inherently daft. They currently have to be stuck in way station countries for upwards of 2 years of vetting before they get here. Tourist visas are far easier to obtain and provide access to the US. Tourist visas are subject to far less scrutiny than refugee status in general.

    Your whole panic here is largely based on ignorance of the immigration system.

    “You don’t like people demonising the whole Muslim faith, but then you go around demonising everything from Qatar. Interesting”

    That must have sounded more clever in your head. [facepalms] Qatar is a dictatorship known for supporting IS. Same can’t be said of the entirety of 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. It all comes down to “but their…

  • RMW

    @Larry
    “Fake Syrian passports used to PRETEND people coming in are refugees. ”
    More proof that you don’t know really know who you are letting in to your country. But hey if you want to ruin your own America…

    “Qatar is a dictatorship known for supporting IS.”
    So everyone in Qatar is an IS supporter is it? Quite an accusation to make.

  • So can we say all muslims are terrorists or not..? A Islamic School is teaching their students how to spread knowledge and love, so where is the terrorists coming on the name of Muslims???