Tamika James

Tamika 7

Barbara Berger

English 101-D06

Dateof submission:

Moral Dilemma: To Accept or not to Accept Muslim Refugees

Over time, the Syrian Refugee problem has turned out to be a majorproblem, which has affected the entire of Eastern Europe, and to someextent, the rest of Europe and the world. The refugee problem hasbeen fueled by the political crisis that is going on in Syria, whererebels are fighting to remove the country’s dictator, Al Bashir,from power. At of present, there are well over half a millionrefugees who have escaped the fighting in Syria. In moderninternational relationship, countries are often faced with suchproblems, which not only affect people from one country, but also anentire region, and at times, the whole world. To solve such matters,there is need for global leaders, as well as the people themselves,to come together and give a way forward. However, the response by theEuropean governments has been described as “moral immaturity, whichis failure to respond humanely to the emergency” (The Guardian para21). The moral dilemma has been facilitated by the division inopinion among the people in the host countries as to whether or notto accept the Refugees.

While there are some friendly communities that have opened up tothese communities, most have been quite hostile, citing terrorism asa reason not to welcome the refugees. Sullivan says that some of thepeople have termed the refugees as “potential terrorists slippingunder the radar” (para 18). Some countries have also asserted thatthey lack the where withal to support the refugees. For example, LechWalesa, an activist during Poland’s independence says, “Polandhas been transitioning from Communism for only 25 years, our salariesand house are small. Many people here don’t believe they haveanything to share with the refugees. Especially that they see thatmigrants are often well-dressed, sometimes better than many Poles,”(Lyman para 8). Such assertions and lack of infrastructuralframeworks in some countries means that the crisis is complicated andwidespread. The argument provided looks at the moral dilemmapresented by this unique refugee crisis, and whether or not theMuslim refugees from Syria should be welcomed to stay in the hostcountries in Europe, where they have escaped to avoid war.

Receptionof the Muslims refugees

Differentcountries reacted in different ways to the Syrian refugees. Forinstance, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orban, has gone onrecord for building “an $80 million razor fence at the border”(Robins-Early para 4). This has been in attempt to keep the refugeesout of the country. At the border, the refugees have met brutalresistance from entry, with the authorities resorting to violentmeans in attempt to keep them out. In France, one Mayor has also goneon record to state that he “is only willing to accept Christianasylum seekers” (RT para 14). The same goes for the Slovakian PrimeMinister, who has openly refused to accept the Muslim asylum seekers,saying that the Muslim refugees will have no place to worship if theywere accepted into the country. Likewise, the Bulgarian governmenthas not been in a hurry to help out the Muslim refugees from Syria,noting that the country was yet recovering from years of the Ottomanrule.

Regardless,some countries have accepted to help out the Syrian asylum seekers.The most notable of these are Austria and Germany. The governments ofthese countries have accepted the refugees and given them a chance toestablish themselves within their borders. According to Frej, Germany“is at the epicenter of refugee influx that has escalated acrossEurope in recent months” (para 8). The country does not regard theasylum seekers’ religious affiliation as a factor when welcomingthem. Indeed, Germany is one of the few European nations with thelargest number of Christians, which however, has not had a problemwith welcoming Muslim refugees. Similarly, the Finnish Prime Ministerwelcomed the idea of helping out the Muslim refugees from Syria.While showing her support for the refugees, she went ahead to offerher private residence for refugee settlement. While the Christiancountries are on the spotlight over the acceptance of the Muslimrefugees, there is a rift among the Muslim nations over accepting therefugees from Syria. A regional human rights expert was on record tosay that “the missing linkage in this tragic drama is the role ofArab countries” (Malsin para 2). Lebanon and Jordan are twocountries with a high number of Muslims, which have accepted theasylum seekers. However, some Gulf Countries have been reluctant overaccepting the refugees, citing various reasons for their denial.

Moraldilemmas in perspective

Thedifferent reactions to the Syrian refugee crisis are a demonstrationthat the issue is a dilemma. To investigate the moral responsibilityof people and their countries to the crisis, there is need to definea moral dilemma. In contemporary moral experience, there is aphilosophical discussion of moral dilemmas that has been advanced bya number of authors (Dougherty 6, Preus 202, Shrage 99). The authorsshare from the same school of thought, putting moral dilemmas in theperspective of an issue that appears to lay a problematic situationin the way of decision making (Goldstein et al. 59). While a certainsituation may not seem to be problematic for some individuals to makea decision, it may prove to be a challenge for others to do the same.In the society, there are those people who have assumed or have beenassigned the responsibility of making decisions for others (Watts24). While these people play the key role of guiding others in thedecision-making process, they may themselves be in a hard position todo the same. This is what makes social decision making a moraldilemma in the contemporary society.

Indifferent people, moral dilemmas elicit different feelings. These aremainly feelings of guilt and belief (Santurri 54). For instance, oneindividual may make a decision out of the influence of guilt, and forthat matter, belief. Some people may avoid guilt by acceptingdecisions, while others avoid it by not accepting the same. Accordingto Yu and Mensah, it all depends on the belief system upon which anindividual is brought up within (154). Likewise, moral dilemmas havethe characteristics of experience. In this regard, people may makedecisions based on certain experiences. Experience plays a key rolein moral dilemmas (Tessman 12). Regardless of the response to acertain situation, be it positive, neutral or negative, persons’past experiences may overshadow beliefs and guilt hence, subject theentire decision-making process to consequence. In moral dilemmas,Frey and Wellman describe these consequences as punishment. Frey andWellman contend, “To call it a genuine moral dilemma-as opposed tomerely an apparent dilemma, or a dilemma only for a particularagent…..the dilemma is in some sense inescapable” (489). Humannature dictates that a person is most likely to make a decision thatwill not hurt him or her, regardless of the effect of that the samedecision on another person. This echoes what Eze describes as“Significant and irreversible development ton public moralimagination” (232). This is what makes people to most likely repeatthe same decisions if they were to find themselves in that situationagain.

Cushmanand Young describe multi-system moral psychology, which has been ofparticular interest to moral philosophers (10). Under this paradigm,the authors point out to the fact that “moral judgements areaccompanied by multiple cognitive systems” (10). This is the reasonthere is a notable shift in the thinking patterns of individuals.Before the current developments in this school of thought,philosophers were of the idea that the decision-making system wascharacterized by a single system of moral judgement (McQueen andMcQueen 141). This was however rebutted after years of research,which demonstrated that there are certain factors that influencedecision making in different people. This was established afterpsychologists computed conditions within a single unified system,which yielded results pointing to the fact that individuals can reactdifferently even when subjected to the same moral conditions. Assuch, the decision-making process is influenced by personal traits,experiences, and choices, which cannot be dictated upon individuals(Angela 137 and Brown 11). This creates an important foundation fordetermining the reaction of people to various situations, even whensubjected to the same under similar conditions.

MoralDilemma of Asylum Seeker Policy

Atthis point, it is justifiable to conclude that the global handling ofasylum seekers is approaching a crisis point. This can be justifiedby what has been happening in other parts of the world, as well aswhat is currently happening in Syria. While people feel different asregards to the issue of asylum seekers, the decision-making process,which the paper has described as a moral dilemma, is influenced byvarious factors. Some of the primary factors are personal feelingsand relationship with other people (Chandwick and Schroeder 178). Thesecondary factors, which however, have the biggest influence on thedecision-making process, are politics, economics, religion,international relations and globalization (Chall 606). Given this,Manne is of the opinion that the question of refugees cannot berationally discussed in the basis of personal preference (para 3). Inassertion, he concludes that the matter is a complex one, which takesa legal, moral and political dimension. However, with uniquesituations, as the Syrian refugee crisis, the moral, political andreligious dimensions are more pronounced.

The entry of most of the refugees in many of the places they seekasylum is quite controversial. Most of the refugees often arrive byboat, as they avoid going through the official border checks. Theboat arrivals are always unauthorized, and there is little safety forthose riding in them. This is why some authorities are setting upborder checks to avert the situation (Akkoc 1 and Associated Press1). Recently, there was the case of a small Syrian boy who drowned,and became an internet sensation and worldwide wake-up call after hisphotographs were spread around. The Guardian described the grim imageas “a reminder of the dangers and children and families are takingin search of better life” (Smith, para 5). The European people’spublic opinion, before and after the incident, has always beendivided. However, the opinion would not have been troubled, were itnot that the governments had not put in place adequate plans tosettle the refugees in an orderly manner. Over the past decades, somegovernments have been able to settle refugees in a more orderlymanner. The best example is the settlement of over 2000 Asianrefugees in Australia in the 1980s (UNHCR 1 and Weaver 1). Duringthis particular crisis, the responsible authorities managed todemonstrate mature policy reservation and protection of human life ina more dignified manner. A couple of decades later, polls inAustralia showed that the people had developed a positive attitudetowards the togetherness with asylum seekers, which made thehumanitarian crisis less controversial.

While there are many policy related issues for the dilemma in EasternEurope, there is a social perspective to the same, which is dividingthe public’s opinion over the acceptance of the Muslim refugees.

MajorIssues in Contention

Terrorism

Djurica reported that “ISIS militants posing as refugees arecrossing into Europe” (para 1). This is one of the many reports ininternational magazines and newspapers that are sending chills acrossthe European public. Most of the people fear that some terrorists maybe disguising themselves as refugees to gain access into Europe. Thesame fears are influencing the decisions made by some of the Europeangovernments and authorities, who are actively fighting against theterrorists. While there are discussions to make decisions on how toinvestigate the Muslim refugees, some politicians in Europe havealready made the decision not to allow any of them to come into theircountries. According to a French Minister, “It’s very difficult,but if all these refugees come to Europe or elsewhere, then IslamicState has won” (Djurica para 10). The politicians feel that theyhave the moral responsibility, as discussed earlier on, to protectthe people from any harm. However, they find themselves in a moraldilemma when they are denying access to any of the refugees, based onthe assumption that some of them may be terrorists trying to enterEurope.

Religion

Putnam,Campell and Garret say that religion is one of the factors thatdeeply divides people across the world (493). This is true for thecase of Syrian refugees in Europe. For instance, in Slovakia, theinterior minister said that the Muslims would not feel at home, asthey would not even have a place to worship. He also added, “Wecould take 800 Muslims but we don’t have any mosques in |Slovakiaso how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like ithere?” (Kais para 10). The Slovakian government, same as a coupleof other governments in Europe, is declining to accept the Muslimrefugees, and would rather settle with the Christian refugees. Infact, Lyman writing for New York Times reports the same informationregarding Slovakia’s stand on the crisis. Slovakia’s PrimeMinister said, “The influx is a rebellion by illegal migrants…/It is false solidarity to force Muslims to settle,” (Lyman para 3).However, Fodzar asserts that the plight of refugees is the same,regardless of their background (167-170). As such, making acondemnation of a portion of the asylum seekers based on theirreligion can only be perceived as a biased decision with no moralsubstance. Significantly, the needs of the Muslim refugees equal thatof the Christian refugees, a fact, which however, has been largelyignored in the Syrian refugee crisis. In addition, reports have shownthat it is a nightmare to remain in Syria because of theindiscriminate bombings by insurgents and the government. In fact,Ahmed, a paramedic, says, “It is completely normal for people towish they can go overseas, can they?” (Samaan and Barnard para 15).This shows that the refugees have risked their lives thus, countriesneed to look beyond religion or economic perceptions and accept them.

Evaluatingthe Dilemma

Without doubt, the Syrian refugee crisis has posed a moral dilemmafor Europe and the entire world. Teitelbaum says, “There can be nodoubt that a major crisis, both humanitarian and political, isunderway” (para 2). However, the moral dilemma is worsened by thepartial treatment of the Refugees. Syria has both Muslim andChristian populations, both which have been affected by thesituation. Despite the fact that there is a budgetary perspective,among other factors, to the refusal of the Syrian refugees, religionseems to take a center stage. While the refugees are treated withhostility upon their arrival and stay in the host countries, theMuslim refugees seem to be the worst treated. According to Edmunds,“Qatar, Kuwait and other Gulf countries have not accepted Syrianrefugees, by arguing that accepting a large number of them is athreat to their safety, as terrorists could be hiding within aninflux of people” (para 5). As it is evident, the host countriesare finding themselves in a moral dilemma, because despite theirduties to protect the refugees, they have the responsibility toensure that their citizens are safe.

Giventhis, a strong argument is that security is a key factor in the moraldilemma. According to Hiro (277) and Douglas (3), the Muslim religionhas a large association with terrorist activities. This hasfacilitated the stereotyping of many Muslims as terrorists, orsympathizers. Many people, including politicians and authorities inEurope, are operating on the assumption that the asylum seekers areall Muslims. However, this is not the fact. According to Fahlbusch,“Christians in Syria have been in close contact with Europe”(279). As of present, there is a considerably large number ofChristian population in the country. As such, those who cite Islam asthe reason for denying the asylum seekers due attention do not makesensible logic. To escape this moral dilemma, some authorities haveput in place certain checks to ensure that they do not admitterrorists. One of these is running the asylum seekers’ namesthrough a system that communicates with the Interpol to ascertain ofthey have terrorist connections (Savchenko para 1). Similarly, someof the applicants have to undergo a Security Advisory Opinion, to“assess an individual’s case for possible espionage or terrorism”(Argiris para 8). This is a commendable action, as it helps theauthorities to differentiate true asylum seekers from those withhidden intentions.

Asit seems, the public opinion is turning out to be one of the keyfactors in deciding the fate of the asylum seekers. The opinionincludes that of the European countries and others across the globe.A research by Pew Research Center indicated, “There is a mixed andpolarized response among Americans to the Syrian refugee crisis”(Galston para 1). The opinion can be summarized as extremely hostile,especially when it comes to the European countries expected to acceptthe Muslim refugees. This opinion is a moral dilemma on a sociallevel. According to the British Prime Minister, the country is set to“fulfil its moral responsibilities towards refugees” (Sparrowpara 1). This is a demonstration of how leaders are in a position tofulfil their moral obligations by shaping the public opinion aboutmoral dilemmas. The same can be observed in other countries, however,on a negative side. The Hungarian Prime Minister was on record forstating “Please don’t come…it’s risky to come” (Al Jazeerapara 5). Thus, the moral dilemma is complicated by the publicopinion, which is in turn largely shaped by the leadership of theEuropean countries.

Conclusion

This paper has described the moral dilemma in the handling of SyrianMuslim refugees. While making a decision to accept or not to acceptrefugees is a matter of policy and public opinion, there is a strongdivide among the Europeans on how to handle the asylum seekers, moreso those of Islamic religion. While some people have accepted towelcome the Refugees, regardless of their religion, it is quiteevident that the issue of religion is one of the major factors thatinfluence the decision. This is because some people erroneouslyassociate the Muslim asylum seekers with terrorists. As such, thefear of insecurity and religious conflict are the major factors inthe moral dilemma. However, given the moral responsibility of thepeople and other leaders towards humanity, putting in place effectivepolicies and structures to handle the refugees is the best wayforward towards handling the moral dilemma.

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