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February 25, 2016 No.
6327

Prominent Saudi Journalist Al-Rashed: Europe Must Educate The Syrian Refugees To Prevent Them From Being Radicalized By Resident Extremist Muslims

In a January 17 article titled "Educating Europe's Refugees as Important as Feeding Them," prominent Saudi journalist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the former editor of  the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and former director of Al-Arabiya TV, addresses the issue of the Syrian refugees arriving in Europe. He argues that Europe, and in particular Germany, is capable of absorbing the refugees economically. However, he says, the real challenge is intellectual and social. Namely, the refugees must be prevented from falling prey to extremist groups within Europe's veteran Muslim communities that will seek to radicalize them.

To preempt this danger, says Al-Rashed, it is important not only to feed and house the refugees but to strengthen them intellectually, so that they integrate with society on the basis of co-existence and mutual respect and resist the lure of extremism. He also notes that these values are not foreign to the refugees, for they are part of their Muslim and Middle Eastern culture that has collapsed in the last three decades due to the spread of extremism and violence.

The following is an English version of Rashed's article published January 17 on Al-Arabiya's English-language website.[1]

 
'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (Alarabiya.net)

 Muslims Extremists In Europe May Turns The Refugees Into Opponents Of The Society They Live In

"More than a million refugees have arrived in Europe from around the world, who may be deemed as easy prey for extremist groups. These groups reached Europe before the influx of refugees and they enjoy greater freedom of expression. They are also more engaged in social activities. The more recent refugees, on the other hand, went to Europe in search of a new life. Yet, many of them may end up becoming the target of extremists looking to expand their presence. They are intent on producing terrorists and spreading an extremist ideology that turns these refugees into opponents of the very society they live in.

"Ever since Syrians started fleeing their war-ravaged country in large numbers, they headed to Europe via Turkey. This marked the beginning of a new phase in the crisis, which will probably continue even if the Syrian conflict is resolved. A million refugees, most of whom [are] Syrians, is not a big number in a continent inhabited by around 300 million people. The number is also not a complication for Germany, the biggest refugee hosting country, as its huge economy can sustain them. But the challenge posed by these refugees is bigger on intellectual, social and security fronts.

"What is as important is educating them so that they integrate with society easily and confront attempts by extremists to radicalize them.

"There are real threats facing these refugees who are victims of the repulsive war which has unjustly displaced more than 10 million Syrian people and a few million Iraqis. The refugees in Europe are vulnerable to exploitation and to being used in this game which is getting more complicated and dangerous. There are powers fighting over them in Europe such as those who oppose refugees, parties protesting over unemployment and groups supporting [the] Syrian and Iranian regimes. Of course the most dangerous are extremists and people cooperating with terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Nusra Front."

Educating Refugees As Important As Food And Housing

"It will be in the interest of German and European authorities in general to preemptively address this problem by not letting these refugees fall prey to extremists who influence them under the pretext of humanitarian support. These refugees must be intellectually equipped to live with dignity and co-exist in the new society which has hosted them; a society which respects their rights and beliefs and expects the same from refugees. European governments and people are currently focused on helping these refugees. They are being provided food and housing while their papers are processed. However, what is as important is educating them so that they integrate with society easily and confront attempts by extremists to radicalize them.

"Governments can do nothing but threaten to expel anyone who is proved to be engaging in extremist activities, as has been seen in Germany. This approach only addresses a small percentage of the 1 million refugees. The biggest challenge is to intellectually strengthen the majority from attempts being made by extremists to turn refugees from being thankful to hateful and into extremists who reject their new society and clash with it.

"I am confident that it is possible to spread the culture of co-existence and tolerance, which can be derived from the refugees' Muslim and Middle Eastern culture that has collapsed in the last three decades due to extremist and hateful ideologies and ongoing wars."

 

Endnotes

[1] English.Alarabiya.net, January 17, 2016.