Straight up: Refugees and the politics of fear - The Post

Straight up: Refugees and the politics of fear

The minister’s “pilgrimage” to the camps hardened her resolve to pick and choose (photo:pixabay)
August 29th, 2015 7:00 pm| by Zach Khadudu


The reality of a Lars Rasmussen-led government has hit home. The blue coalition, it seems, is back with a vengeance. The stone-faced immigration minister, Inger Støjberg, is taking no prisoners. By hook or by crook, she is determined to make her point – that an increased flow of asylum-seekers to Denmark is detrimental to the fabric of the happiest nation on the planet (or is it?).

Hijacking the debate
Even before the ink dried on her appointment letter to the immigration docket, Støjberg was at the European border agency Frontex in Poland for a debriefing on the threat of immigrants. She later went on a “pilgrimage” to Jordanian refugee camps and came back with an “enlightened” idea: select refugees based on the potential to learn Danish and take up a job. Really, Inger?

While the refugee crisis has become a humanitarian crisis, political interests have hijacked the debate. At one end are the fear-mongering operatives like Støjberg who want to only take in those who fit the description ‘elite refugees’ (or else they can f**k off!!). At the other extreme are the ‘high priests’ of morality who believe immigration should be left to its own devices.

Do your duty, don’t demonise
To fuel the fire, politicians like the good immigration minister (wink) resort to using the words refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants interchangeably. That way, they consciously indoctrinate the impressionable masses by creating a false idea that refugees and asylum-seekers are not any different from economic immigrants.

Some two cents that Inger should perhaps get clear: her idea that refugees should be selected on a quota basis from camps in Lebanon, Jordan or Africa based on their ability to learn Danish or take up a job is not part of the letter or spirit of the 1951 refugee convention. The convention was not for the benefit of ‘elite refugees’ like Inger would like to believe. It is for people fleeing war, persecution and torture.

Appalling cherry-picking
The fact is that while immigrants may choose to leave their countries for greener pastures in Denmark or elsewhere, refugees and asylum-seekers do not have that luxury. They are forced out of countries by war, persecution and torture.

They are the people risking their lives crammed in rickety boats across the Mediterranean, the thousands lining up every night to cross from Turkey to Greece, the hundreds making the perilous tunnel crossing at Calais, and the many in Lebanese or Jordanian camps with legit claims for international protection. The cherry-picking that Inger Støjberg suggests perpetuates the government-led innuendo of refugees as ‘welfare-parasites’. This is appalling and degrading.

The immigration minister and her proxies can campaign all they want, produce videos to discourage refugees from coming to Denmark and take their charm offensives wherever, but the facts remain unchanged: as long as violent conflicts exist, refugees will have no choice but to arrive at European shores, and at Denmark’s.

European politicians can either help solve the problem or make political gain from human tragedy. The government has chosen the latter.


Zach Khadudu

Zach Khadudu is a Kenyan by birth and a journalist by choice. He is a commentator and an activist with a passion for refugee and human rights. He may share a heritage with a certain US president, but his heart lies elsewhere – in the written and spoken word.