Saturday, March 5, 2022

The current Ukrainian crisis showed that some refugees are more equal than others

Source: The Art Of Boo

Moustafa Byoumi wrote a brilliant article in The Guardian lately (please read here) whereby he detailed how "racist" the coverage of Ukraine is. Of course, by now, many of us are familiar with CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata masterpiece of journalism when he uttered live on air (about Ukraine), that it "isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen" - now of course, when Mesopotamia was a civilization, I am not sure what the rest of the world was.

Let me give you this other story, when trying to save almost extinct species, human beings - when interviewed - wanted to allocate more money towards species with anthropomorphic features. Anthropomorphism is that quality where the animal species has much more "resemblance" to the humans. And even the title of this post is a paraphrasing of George Orwell's "all animals are equal, some more equal than others". I am not directly comparing almost extinct animal species to refugees, but sadly the comparison does stand on the ground.

I have previously detailed the one-sided love between Lebanon and France (please look here). But this is just a small example of how hard it is for a Lebanese to get a visa to Europe. Lebanon has hosted, per capita, the highest amount of Syrian refugees in the world. When Europe was squabbling about a thousand here and there, we had more than 2 million (the latest figures still indicate 1.5 million if you want to know). Even inside Lebanon, the Damour massacre has displaced so many people who still did not go back to their original villages. 

Actually, Christian Lebanese always had this fallacy in their head, that Europe wants them. It would welcome them with open arms. But of course, these are the same people who never tried to apply to a Schengen visa - last time I did it took 60 papers. 60. Papers. I can tell you stories about how embassies treated me (at the time I was teaching at a university, with two full passports filled with stamps and visas and still, they made it incredibly hard to get the visa. Small example: I asked (backed by papers) to get a multiple entry visa. I got one. For how long? 4 weeks! When did finish? One day before Christmas! So it was impossible to actually spend the holidays in Europe even if then I was loaded with money).

But all this to tell you, no - as Lebanese, Syrians, Afghans we are not so welcome to Europe. Of course, just to be clear, considering I grew up in a war, all these sights from Ukraine bother me immensely (and yes, they trigger flashbacks for me). But whereas the whole world rallies around Ukraine (and rightfully so), when all this was happening in Palestine, no one moved a muscle.

Daniel Hannan in The Telegraph put it as succinctly as possible when talking about Ukrainians, "(they) watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts" - you hear that Lebanese "influencers"?