Is political correctness over ‘refugees’ putting lives in danger?

November 27, 2015
Macedonian policemen hold shields as they stand on the borderline during clashes as hundreds of stranded migrants tried  to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni November 26, 2015. A few migrants ran across into Macedonia but were quickly detained by police. Police in riot gear guarded some 30-40 meters of the fence which was torn down, and a Reuters photographer saw riot police armed with assault rifles. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1VZT1

Macedonian policemen hold shields as they stand on the borderline during clashes as hundreds of stranded migrants tried to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni November 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

“They are refugees, not terrorists,” read one late-summer Facebook status at the height of Europe’s “migrant crisis.”

With evidence that Ahmad Almohammad, one of the eight Paris attackers, masqueraded as a refugee en route to Europe, alongside BBC interviews with ‘migrants’ themselves expressing concern for phony refugees — a more intense light has been cast upon Europe’s pro-refugee activists.

From the southern borders of Hungary to the camps of Calais, Europe’s humanitarians have united to assist the stream of migrants entering the continent — while politicians bumble over policy and right-wing heretics tune-up anti-migrant rhetoric.

The European psyche on migration appears to have been caught off guard by the sheer pace of events — with the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat estimating over 700,000 asylum applications in 2015 as just the tip of the iceberg.

The sudden on-screen bombardment of border camps, sea-faring tragedies and protests, seems to have dichotomized the continent into gung-ho humanitarians or fearful conservatives — leaving the continent devoid of the crucial middle-ground to move forward with effective solutions.

Social media messages post-Paris reverberated like deja-vu. “They are not terrorists — less than 0.00007 percent of Muslims are terrorists,” said one Facebook user to rapturous approval. The message appeared directed at the potential right-wing backlash.

Unfortunately, the cruel reality underlying that Facebook status — is that despite the statistically miniscule number of radical Muslims – it takes just one, armed with an AK-47 and explosive belt to kill and maim hundreds.

Why then have Europe’s humanitarians remained so staunchly pro-refugee?

In a Forbes guest post written by Steven Emerson, an executive director, and Pete Hoekstra, a senior fellow, at the Investigative Project on Terrorism, they lament the role of political correctness toward radical Islam in obstructing frank discussion.

“Remember that they [politicians] blamed the Benghazi massacre on an Internet video. Perhaps they will blame the ISIS [Paris] attacks on a TV show,” they said.

The reality of Paris is that a “refugee,” with allegiance to a militant group that puts forward a toxic interpretation of Islam, killed 130 innocent people.

It seems that merely reflecting on the role Islam has to play, and the risks of mass refugee intake, may leave people open to accusations of xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism.

It was a fate British Prime Minister David Cameron risked last week when claiming that we can no longer deny any connection between Islam and extremism. “Extremists are self-identifying as Muslims,” added Cameron.

Unrelenting political correctness is a double-edged sword; protecting people from offense, but failing to allow hard truths through.

In Europe, the clashing liberals and right-wingers fail to recognize that a clear understanding of the migrant issue requires elements of both viewpoints.

Helping the hundreds of thousands of needy people arriving on European shores is virtuous and a central tenet of a continent that has thrived with the free flow of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Preventing refugees from entering Europe risks the build-up of marginalized and impoverished individuals on its borders. That creates the risk of igniting the powder keg that is the Balkans; a reality Europe’s fence builders are inviting.

But, likewise, letting too many refugees into the EU risks creating instability in Europe’s core, which is currently in the midst of a right-wing resurgence and slow economic recovery.

Unfortunately, with policymakers caught somewhere in between the activist and right-wing voices, policy, too, has become schizophrenic. While some EU states have agreed to house refugees, some union members, such as Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, have flirted with the idea of making their states less attractive to migrants by reducing the “pull” factors of welfare support.

This is a potent mix. Accepting thousands of refugees requires long-term commitments to their financial and social needs. Otherwise, Europe will create a breeding ground for disillusioned young individuals susceptible to perversions of Islam, or any other extremist agenda.

When the evocative scenes of Europe’s migrant crisis subside, the fear is that the humanitarian forces to integrate Europe’s new populace will also fade. Europe may not be importing terrorism today — at least not on the scale some on the right-wing seem to think — but a failure in assimilation can create a tinderbox for future extremism.

This means being more balanced on refugee intake, and filtering the flow of migrants into the continent effectively. Thus far, that effort has been wholly inadequate.

When the BBC’s Ed Thomas and Gabriel Gatehouse traveled to the Greek island of Leros last week to speak to Syrian migrants en route to Europe, one Syrian man said, “Check me properly, ask me the right questions… you must check, for my safety and your safety.”

The emotion of the migrant crisis has caught Europe unaware, and divided it between unrelenting fear and impractically open arms. The lack of rationality and perspective on the problem risks sinking the continent deeper into fear and danger.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Why aren’t they running to a Muslim run country? Why aren’t their fellow Muslims taking them in? Their Quran teaches them to kill all non-Muslims (infidels) so why expect any family to risk even one life for their foolish fanatic cult of death.

Posted by littlejoseph | Report as abusive


They do not run to another Muslim country because the issue is tribal.

It is the same reason we should not have invaded Iraq.

We broke the egg, and now we own the problem.

Open your door and pull out you cash.

Next time do not be so quick to go to war.

Posted by Flash1022 | Report as abusive

I think its important to keep in mind we are expressing opinions that are far removed from the tragedies unfolding in the middle east.
That there is so little violence, given the sheer size of the refugee outpouring and privation, may be a testament to the faith or humanity of these people.
I live in the us, and made an attempt to picture what the same events would have done to a like size portion of the us population. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

Posted by Laster | Report as abusive

What we really need to recognise is the absurdity of the European Union.

One of their legal definitions of a “refugee” is anyone who is economically poor. I’m sorry, but that means everyone outside of the West is probably a “refugee” and thus are allowed unrestricted access to any country within the European Union. That’s insane, but that doesn’t surprise me with the EU.

Posted by Kelogg | Report as abusive

They are no refugees. They are migrants. They are starting to refuse to be relocated to some countries because, as they say, they will not have economical prosperity. They refuse to come to south Europe countries, known to have high unemployment rates and low wages. Do have in mind that all migrants will have a home and free health/education at their disposal on any European country. If they are true refugees, they should only be looking for safety from war. I wonder how many will go back to Siria after the war i over…

Posted by ozzy_pt | Report as abusive

This is a good point. Mishandling the refugee crisis will cause unimaginable future problems. One million people in rickety boats and walking across Europe, is everybody crazy? What century is this? Either fly them in by plane or keep them in safe camps for processing. Or do both, but please decide something.

Posted by SaigonQ2 | Report as abusive

It HAS taken lives. Emotion driven decision making my Mutti is a disaster. She must pay.

Posted by GetReel | Report as abusive

Well, political correctness over guns kills 30,000 people per year in America. It is a perversion of the 2nd Amendment which leads to a mentally ill gamer being able to buy 30,000 rounds of ammo over the internet.

Ten 9/11’s per year in gun fatalities. It has been 14 years since 9/11. That’s 14 X 3 = 42 9/11’s…. we’ve done to ourselves. Forget the Muslim loonies. We’re our own worst terrorists. No other developed nation has this problem. Not one.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

The issue is not political correctness. It is racism. Understand this:
All those people who somehow are identified as muslims don’t in fact have that much in common. They are NOT from the same race, country culture. They are not all equally orthodox about Islam…the list goes on.
Of course that is not what the writer of the article mean when he talks about muslim. What “muslim” really stands for in this article is this: ” homeless sneaky arabs who are inherently dangerous and terrorists until proven otherwise”.
Now thats racist!

Posted by ali_ababsi | Report as abusive

“They are not terrorists — less than 0.00007 percent of Muslims are terrorists,”

So, this moron claims out of the 1 billion muslims world-wide there are only 700
terrorists. That means more than 1% of all of the radical islamists in the world
were involved in the Paris attack. Really?

The fact remains islamists are responsible for the overwhelming number of terrorist
attacks world-wide. Wherever there is a majority muslim population, there is terrorism.

Wise up.

Posted by PattiK | Report as abusive

Solidar, you are making huge mistakes on your gun murder ration, especially when 60% of them are suicide, and a vast % of the remaining is gang violence. Gamers aren’t going around killing people like jihadists. Those were a handful of incidents and the majority didn’t get over a dozen kills.

Posted by megalon | Report as abusive

I made the mistake of going out on the roads on Black Friday this year. I nearly got into an accident 3 times. People were driving like idiots. All to get a big screen TV. Or a new computer. Or a fancy accessory for their car. Or they were in a hurry to get into McDonald’s. I was about 999999.999999% more likely to die out there on the road than I ever will be to die in a terrorist attack. And so were they, and all for what—Christmas goodies? Why are we even worried about the Syrian refugees, if we’re willing to risk death for a new iPhone?

Posted by radioredrafts | Report as abusive

You have opened your door for them. Now, you have your guests at the table. So nourish them and make them feel comfortable in your home. As your hereditary neighbours from other European countries were not good enough for you, you must take up with those who have come and you believed were better than the people living in Europe for centuries.

Posted by harabaska | Report as abusive

Guess by that line of reasoning America’s failure to integrate radical right-wing Republicans into mainstream democratic society has created the tinderbox of current extremism!
Schizophrenic Republican politicians have instilled and promulgated such abject fear in the American public’s consciousness regarding the Syrian refugees that the very fabric of American culture has been torn asunder in cowardliness sinking America deep into self-imposed danger and destruction.

Posted by chaetoons | Report as abusive

Political correctness meets reality.
Sometimes people dont deserve the benefit of the doubt. A jerk is a jerk and I should be allowed to call them that to their face without being “labeled” as an “anti” ( insert race, religion, gender here).
And using the “politcally correct” mallet to crush any dissenting opinions about race, religion, gender is the beginning of the end of free speech and democracy.
I’d rather drink a beer and argue with 10 politically incorrect people at a table than with one smug pc indoctrinated self rightous arrogant twerp that tosses out buzzwords like “empowerment” , “micro agression “, “wholistic”, “segway”, and on and on and on until I have a migraine. They dont argue the point being discussed. They just argue that your not “pc” because you disagree with them. Pretty lazy way to “discuss” an issue.
Time to tell your professors that there is a big , ugly , non pc world out there that doesnt care about hurting your feelings or, for that matter, hurting YOU.
And I’m sure that some of the people about to be decapitated by some illiterate ISIS savage werent argueing whether the sword swinging lunatic felt “empowered” at that particular moment in time.

And judging from some of the comments……..I’d say pc indoctrination has just about had its day, thankfully.

Posted by NonVoter | Report as abusive

“Gamers aren’t going around killing people like jihadists. Those were a handful of incidents and the majority didn’t get over a dozen kills.”

Of course they are. Every single day. Pick up a newspaper.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Flash: The invasion of Iraq was because they invaded Kuwait. Kuwait govt requested assistance to defend against Iraqi invasion from the UN hence US, UK, etc were involved with the war. The egg was broken because Iraq invaded Kuwait and bombed their oil fields.

Posted by cravingsafety | Report as abusive

The republicans faked a reason to invade Iraq, and they de-stabilized the power structure there. The refugee crisis is a predictable outcome of republican stupidity and ignorance. That and the 4,500 American soldiers they killed, just to give ISIS a new home.

GOP won’t seat another President for 30 years. They are incompetent at world affairs, and pretty much anything beyond Pyramid history. Oh yeah, they suck at that too :)

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

What is really putting lives in danger is the fairy tale land in which Ben Rhodes and the Whitehouse administration live. In the “World” section on Reuters tonight, Ben Rhodes reported more Russian targeting of the Islamic State yet the reporter stated, “at least as of a week ago, there has been little change in Moscow’s practice of targeting non-Islamic State areas in Syria.”

Countless lives depend on an administration that is grounded in reality, not wishful thinking. Their neurotic denial is a disgrace to our country and the Office of the President.

Posted by hometown | Report as abusive

Shock and awe.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Absolutely i agree They are refugees, not terrorists.we cant divide races blaming them ..these category or these type of ppl are wrong or harmfull. any race any category any person acan be harmfull. its all in the better we need to focus on the patrotism feeling inside evry human as we are one nation. thank you.

Posted by epaisa | Report as abusive

Another day, another mass shooting. By home-grown Americans…. against Americans. Refugees are the least of our problems. 30,000 people a year dying from guns here. This does not happen ANY other place in the developed world.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Since when did my beloved state of Texas become the ‘hate state’ full of scared and weak people? In the military, I saw firsthand the plight of war refugees and we’ve learned from Vietnam & Korea that refugees can assimilate into American culture and make us a much more productive nation. If we have any hope whatsoever of competing economically with China, whose workforce is over 5 times bigger than ours, we’ll need to rethink immigration or else we’ll end up like Japan.

Posted by sguykayak | Report as abusive