Refugees and Our Safety?

Are they safe?

I was asked recently about crime among refugees, and I’ve seen a lot this last few weeks floating around the internet about how dangerous refugees coming to Canada from the Middle East are for our country. The basic sentiment?

Isn’t letting so many desperate Muslim people into our country just asking for massive increases in crime and terrorism?

Some cited how Sweden has seen notable increase in crimes (especially sexual crimes) in the last several years. They noted a correlation between refugees being taken into the Sweden, and that rise in sexual crime. However, as any statistics student will tell you, “correlation does not imply causation.”

So I wanted to dig a little deeper into this question.

Refugees are not dangerous, but they are IN danger

Let’s look at Germany, who has taken in around 1 million refugees in the last year. And while it’s true that Germany has seen a notable spike in crimes, especially by migrants, during that time, the vast majority of those crimes have been relatively minor things. Things like petty theft, forging paperwork in hopes to get money or a financial loan, or riding public transport without a ticket (which, to be fair, is something I’ve also done accidentally several times while in Germany, on account of not understanding Germany’s public transit system at the time).

Less than 1% of all crimes committed by asylum seekers in Germany were sexual related crimes. Along with that, among crimes committed by refugees in Germany, a disproportionately low percentage of them were by asylum seekers from the Middle East.

“Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis are the largest group of immigrants, but are less frequently delinquent in relation to other groups of migrants. Proportionately more offenders were found among immigrants from the Balkans (Kosovo, Albania, Serbia), Eritrea and Nigeria.” (Source; emphasis added)

Migrants from less “scary” places, like Africa and other parts of Europe, were more likely to be involved in committing a crime compared to those of the ethnicities we in the West are typically more fearful towards (Iraqi, Syrian, and Afghan)

It’s also been shown that refugees are less likely in general to commit crimes than even the native population of the country they end up settling in. Check out Kurzgesagt’s video about the Refugee Crisis for more on that topic, and sources.

So why the crime/terrorism?

In my previous post, Forgotten, but Still Not Gone, I talked about a song that was impacting me: “A Call to Arms” by For Today.

There was another line from that song that seems especially applicable here:

You want to stop the violence? Put an end to poverty.
You’ll never keep them silent. Desperate men do desperate things.

There’s an interesting trend in humanity, such that where there is high levels of poverty in a given area, there tends to be similarly increased levels of crime and violence.

Desperate men do desperate things.

In the same way, many proponents of radical Islam, and terrorists in the West (Paris; Belgium), tend to come from areas affected by high levels of racism and marginalization, and consequently high levels of poverty and suffering.

“It is the perception of injustice, misgovernance and inability of the system to engage the disaffected lot that lead people to violence and extremism.” ~ Ashok K. Behuria

I would like to submit that best way to keep crime levels low, to increase safety, and to lower dangers of extremism/terrorism, both locally and globally is this:

Identify the most oppressed, the most impoverished, and the most marginalized, and establish systems, places, and resources for them, such that those men, women and children are set up for success, freedom, and a life worth living.

Think of the ghetto in your city. Most likely you think of an area with high unemployment, lots of drugs, and lots of prostitution. Generally an unsafe place.

Now imagine that same area with legitimate employment available for everyone, no kids going hungry, no need for women to sell their bodies on the streets, and no need for a drug trade on account of poor economy. I dare suggest you’re probably imagining a generally much safer place.


Now, imagine that on a global scale.

Think of the world ISIS was born into. Tens of thousands of people in economic disparity reaching to a national level (Iraq and Syria’s economies both in the toilet after years of war), perceiving a feeling of general racist fear and hatred coming from Western countries, and oppression from other nearby religious sects.

Terrorism does NOT form in a vacuum.

It rises from broken people tired of the brokenness – people who think the best way they can make the world better is to wreak havoc on the systems that have been suppressing and oppressing them.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes – thousands of men and women, tired of the broken systems oppressing them, taking to the streets, willing to take the sting of tear gas and the pain of water cannons, and in some cases even bullets, in order to show the world that they’re tired of the way things are. They want freedom from oppression. They want to live.

Contrast that to our Muslim friends in the villages off the Syrian boarder, who have found a good (albeit temporary) place to live among their “honest and fair” Christian hosts. Or the Syrian refugees in Calgary, who pitched in to help the those displaced from the Fort McMurray fires.

When people are set up for success and a good life, they’ll more often than not return the favor by pouring back into the society that got them to that point. However, if people are cast aside, denied the right to make a life worth living, and instead put into the most desperate situations with no way to provide for their starving and dying families, why do we find it surprising that they might turn to crime to provide for their families, or terrorism to fight the system that cast them and their people aside?

You want to stop the violence? Put an end to poverty.

If you want to prevent terrorism from growing in your country and our world, the answer is not to lock your doors to Middle Eastern refugees. The answer is to open your doors wide to them, and share with them the same Gift you’ve been given. The answer is not to push those in need further away, but to bring them close and give them hope.

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