I recently gave an interview to Bread and Roses, the TV magazine hosted by Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya, on Europe’s migration crisis, Muslim immigration, the open borders debate and the question of profiling. (The interview begins about 7 minutes in).
There were a few errors in what I said, so before anyone else points them out, let me do so myself: The EU-Libya migration deal was concluded in 2010; the new EU-Turkey deal proposes that all irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece be sent back but also that there is a ‘one for one’ resettlement of one Syrian from a Turkish refugee camp for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey (the interview was recorded before the latest deal was agreed); and if Europe were to host refugees in the same proportion as Lebanon, there would be 100m.
The interview has raised much comment and criticism, especially about open borders and Muslim immigration. I was not suggesting that all borders should be thrown open tomorrow. Such a policy would be both naive and unfeasible, not least for democratic reasons. As I have argued before, ‘Liberal immigration policies can be enforced only by winning public support, not in spite of public opposition’. Open borders may, as I said in the interview, be an ideal, but any implementation depends on context and circumstances. What I was pointing out, however, is that most of the common arguments against open borders do not stack up, and that it is the closing of borders that often create the very problems that they are supposed to solve.
As for Muslim immigration, the idea that such immigration is incompatible with the liberal freedoms and values of European societies has become received wisdom even among liberals. Such critics ignore the fact that what constitutes ‘European values’ are deeply contested. As I asked one critic on Twitter, ‘Are your European values the same as those of Victor Orban or of Marine Le Pen?’ Such critics also ignore the fact that Muslims are as diverse in their values as non-Muslim Europeans are. I have long observed that multiculturalists often take the views of the reactionaries as authentic or representative of Muslim communities, and they ignore the diversity and conflicts within Muslim communities. Much the same could be said of the critics of Muslim immigration. I will hopefully write more about these issues in the coming weeks.