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African migrants caught in a European standoff

Hassan Tahsin

Published: Updated:

Many readers have objected to my article “Israel eroding from within,” published on 21/03/2013, and described it as wishful thinking and anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic in its stance.

The matter of the fact is that there is continued immigration, both legal and illegal, from north- and south-African countries to Europe and the European governments have been working day and night to stop this influx of Africans.

Israel’s rejection and refusal reminds me of an important issue for European countries, which was brought up by a Satellite TV channel during a show that was aired ten years ago. The French right-wing and nationalist politician, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was invited to speak on the show.

The host of the show was a smart gentleman, who helped us dive into the mentality of this politician and understand his military background and his way of approaching contemporary political issues as well as his fears of voicing his anti-Semitic views publicly.

‘Civil war’

Apparently, the host focused on Le Pen’s hatred and extreme views towards immigrants who come to France, especially from African countries. He made Le Pen reveal his fears of an imminent civil war that might take place in France over the issue of foreigners’ immigration.

Over the past ten years, all European countries have attached significant importance to the immigration issue. Some of them described it as a disaster that threatens the developed European countries

Hassan Tahsin

Allow me to say that I agree with Le Pen on two points. First, it is natural for any country, be it European or not, to reject immigration and the influx of foreigners, especially if this country already suffers from a high unemployment rate and illegal immigration. Each country gives its citizens priority. It is important to respect the laws of each country.

Second, I also agree with him that each person has the right to choose his religious convictions and beliefs give patriotism priority over everything else, provided he does not make an enemy of those who hold different religious beliefs or different nationalities.

Everything else Le Pen said was not convincing and did not justify his inhuman violations of Algerians’ rights when he was an officer in the French occupation army. I was also not convinced by his defense of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the flimsy excuses he made for the dictator just because the latter received him in Iraq.

I wish the host would have asked Le Pen this pressing question: Don’t you think that the people of North African countries immigrate to France as a result of the fact they had suffered immensely at the hands of the French colonization and were deprived of their own resources?

A threat to welfare?

Whatever the answer would have been, one thing was noted. Over the past ten years, all European countries have attached significant importance to the immigration issue. Some of them described it as a disaster that threatens the developed European countries whose people enjoy a luxurious life and welfare system.

This attack against immigration started when a number of racist xenophobic parties in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria emerged on the political scene. These parties have always called for deporting all foreigners, especially Muslim immigrants.

I’d like to tell Le Pen, and those who hold his extremist viewpoints, that your expectations are wrong because the European continent has grown old and is threatened by a severe labor shortage that will potentially occur by 2025, one that might constitute 11 % of its population, according to a report by the United Nations. The report studied the demography of eight countries: France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Russia, and South Korea.

It appeared in Le Monde Journal in 2000 and predicted there would be five workers for each retired one. This fact gives the European Union no option but to open the doors of immigration wide open and keep them open starting today until the year 2025. By doing so, they will be able to compensate the expected shortage of labor and maintain the previous rate of 1995. If the EU fails to do this, it will have to deal with a major problem, which will surely exacerbate as shortage of labor hits 47% all over Europe.

The U.N. solution

The United Nation’s solution focuses on two things. First, Europe should accept a large number of immigrants. This in itself will create an endless political problem for European governments, which will have to convince their citizens, most of whom are unemployed, of the importance of accepting immigrants in order to avoid an imminent catastrophe that might take place within the next 50 years.

Second, the retirement age should be raised regardless of the fact that this step will definitely exacerbate the unemployment problem all over Europe.

To sum it up, European countries are facing an increasingly difficult problem, which needs a quick solution before catastrophe hits. Let me tell Le Pen, who is known for his contradictory ideas, that the entire population of this planet is aging but European people are aging faster, according to the U.N. report.

What do you think about that? If the number of European young workers is decreasing, is it not possible that Israel is eroding from within and its people are looking for better job opportunities instead of staying in this Jewish “alley” called Israel?

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 25, 2013.


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Hassan Tahsin is a veteran Egyptian writer and a regular contributor to pan-Arab newspapers, including the Saudi Gazette. His writing focuses on Middle East conflicts. Tahsin’s political analysis particularly centers on Arab-Israeli relations on a regional level, and Egypt’s domestic and foreign policies, including ties with the Western world. Tahsin can be reached at htahsin-8@hotmail.com.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.