Fighting against the horror and against resignation on the refugee front

by Antonis D. Papagiannidis

The recent horror incident of the extreme-right wing, conspiracy-theory believer in Germany/Hanau (Hessen) who shot at close range on a peaceful crowd and slaughtered 9 people (before killing his own mother and committing suicide) carried a particularly vicious dimension: the perpetrator “explained” that his action was the only remedy to a situation, where the immigrants targeted (5 of them of Turkish descent, with German nationality) “could not be deported”.

The fact should be noted that German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a leader of the impeccably right-wing CSU (the Bavarian sister party to the ruling CDU still stands for its legendary leader Franz-Josef Strauss’ dictum, that “no legitimate political party can be standing right of the CSU”) felt if imperative to lay a ceremonial wreath at the spot of the assassination within hours of the tragedy. Chancellor Angela Merkel dwelt also on the issue, soon afterwards.

Throughout Europe extreme-right wing aggression against immigrants and refugees is rising; the call of “send them back to where they came from” is gaining ground. So, it is highly enheartening to see in Greece – where the refugee/migrant issue is once more explosive, albeit not taking the vicious turn seen in Germany or the UK – an initiative flourish: the “Network of Cities for Integration”. Thirteen municipalities throughout Greece ranging from Athens, Piraeus and two further neighbourhoods in Attica to Thessaloniki, Ioannina in Epirus, Tripoli in the Peloponnesus and Heraklion in Crete, all have coordinated to organize assist programmes aiming to integrate refugee populations to the local communities. Some 12,500 people have been covered by these programmes, offering help in administrative steps to asylum- seekers; supplying information about existing social services; easing refugee children to the Greek school system and adults to Greek language courses; most importantly, helping people to get a job, or at least some sort of activity. Integration is no easy task; getting local communities to cooperate can be a daunting undertaking. Still, taking the lead in such efforts is far more promising for the future than organizing sit-ins or demonstrations to keep refugee populations away.

Meanwhile, a storm in a teacup was raised in the Greek internet world following a proposal – or other an idea floated – by veteran academic Antonis Liakos, that Greece would have to integrate 1.000.000 migrants, of the country were to survive as such, long-term…