In a recent address, former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki called upon the leaders of the Gulf and Maghreb countries to accept Syrian refugees. "You cannot let the Europeans deal with this tragedy alone," he said. The address was broadcast on Al-Jazeera TV on September 11, 2015.
Following are excerpts:
Moncef Marzouki: The summer of 2015 will certainly go down in history as a mark of shame for this nation and, I'm sad to say, for every one of us, because the Syrian tragedy that unfolded before our eyes has exceeded all expectations. Words and feelings do not mean a thing anymore. We have entered a realm of total madness and anarchy, a realm of complete collapse. We are witnessing half the Syrian people being displaced, and migrating to European countries. We are witnessing European nations opening their doors to millions of Arabs.
This is clear evidence of the failure of our Arab system as a whole, clear evidence of the failure of our countries and our regimes. Perhaps this is even clear evidence of the failure of the notion of citizenship. I have always defined "homeland" as the place that we escape to, but it has become the place that we escape from.
I want to force people to own up to their responsibilities. I want to force the Arab leaders – each and every one of them – to own up to their responsibilities. They cannot just stand idly by, watching from the sidelines, as if this is happening to Martians on Mars. It is not. This is happening to Arabs, to our own folk, our own flesh and blood. We cannot just look on, as if nothing is happening. Last week, I asked to meet with Tunisian President Mr. Beji Caid Essebsi, in order to ask him for Tunisia to open its doors to one thousand Syrian families, for starters. So far, the President has not deigned to meet me. Therefore, I send him this message via TV: I believe that I express the will of the Tunisian people by asking him to open the doors quickly, to a thousand Syrian families at least, to begin with.
I know that countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq are bearing the burden of most of the refugees. The Gulf countries and the countries of the Maghreb are capable of bearing some of that burden. Therefore, I say to the leaders of the Maghreb and the Gulf: This is a matter of personal honor, of the honor of our nation, of the honor of your countries and of your peoples. You cannot let the Europeans deal with this tragedy alone, and bear the burden of our own problems all by themselves.