The European Commission, the powerful administrative arm of the European Union, has unveiled a controversial plan that would compel EU member countries to accept 160,000 migrants and refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.
The move by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to force European countries to throw open their borders — and to require them to provide migrants with free clothing, food, housing and healthcare for an indefinite period of time — not only represents an audacious usurpation of national sovereignty, it is also certain to encourage millions of additional migrants from the Muslim world to begin making their way to Europe.
The migration proposal, announced on September 9, would "share" 120,000 migrants currently holed up in Greece, Hungary and Italy with other countries in the European Union. This number is in addition to previous demands by the European Commission that 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean migrants be relocated from Greece and Italy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose open-door immigration policy is partly responsible for fueling the rush of migrants to Europe, has already warned that the European Commission's plan is "merely a first step" and that Europe may have to accept even bigger numbers. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that Germany could take 500,000 migrants annually for "several more years."
Welcome to Germany! At left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At right, some of the hundreds of migrants who arrived in Munich on September 12, 2015.
It remains unclear just how many of the migrants arriving in Europe are refugees fleeing warzones, and how many are economic migrants seeking a better life in the West. Statistics show that of the 625,920 people who applied for asylum in the European Union in 2014, only 29.5% were from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
German officials have admitted that 40% of the migrants arriving in the country in 2015 are from the Balkans, including Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, which implies that at least half of those arriving in Germany this year are economic migrants fleeing poverty not war.
Critical observers are describing the migration chaos engulfing Europe in apocalyptic terms: an "unstoppable demographic revolution," a "total Armageddon scenario," and an "exodus of biblical proportions."
What follows is a selection of quotes and commentary from a variety of political leaders and opinion-shapers in Europe and elsewhere about the consequences of untrammeled immigration from the Muslim world.
In Britain, Nigel Farage, the leader of the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP), spoke to the BBC Radio 4's Today program. He said:
"The problem we've got is we've opened the door to an exodus of biblical proportions meaning millions and millions of refugees. We've lost sight of what it is to be a refugee. How many millions does Europe want to take? That is the question.
"Genuine refugees have tended to be groups of people, ethnic groups or religious groups who were directly under persecution and were fleeing in fear of their lives. The problem we've got now if you look at the definition of the EU's common asylum policy, it includes anyone fleeing from a war-torn country, and it even includes people fleeing extreme poverty."
British MEP Janice Atkinson, said:
"Nobody voted for illegal immigration. Plenty of people voted to put us here to oppose it. The hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants overwhelming our borders and our capacities to cope are exactly that — illegal.
"Let's be clear about another thing: despite what the human rights industry and the massed ranks of taxpayer-funded charities and lobby-groups repeat, this is not a refugee crisis but a massive crisis of illegal immigration which must be resisted for what it is."
English author and journalist Peter Hitchens, in an essay titled, "We won't save refugees by destroying our own country," wrote:
"Actually we can't do what we like with this country. We inherited it from our parents and grandparents and we have a duty to hand it on to our children and grandchildren, preferably improved and certainly undamaged. It is one of the heaviest responsibilities we will ever have. We cannot just give it away to complete strangers on an impulse because it makes us feel good about ourselves....
"Thanks to a thousand years of uninvaded peace, we have developed astonishing levels of trust, safety and freedom.... I am amazed at how relaxed we are about giving this away.
"Our advantages depend very much on our shared past, our inherited traditions, habits and memories. Newcomers can learn them, but only if they come in small enough numbers. Mass immigration means we adapt to them, when they should be adapting to us....
"So now, on the basis of an emotional spasm, dressed up as civilization and generosity, are we going to say that we abandon this legacy and decline our obligation to pass it on, like the enfeebled, wastrel heirs of an ancient inheritance letting the great house and the estate go to ruin?
"I can see neither sense nor justice in allowing these things to become a pretext for an unstoppable demographic revolution in which Europe (including, alas, our islands) merges its culture and its economy with North Africa and the Middle East. If we let this happen, Europe would lose almost all the things that make others want to live there."
British MEP Daniel Hannon warned that Germany's open-door immigration policy was drawing ever more migrants to Europe. He wrote:
"The belief that Germany is relaxing its policy is bound to lead to a level of migration that surpasses anything seen so far. Refugees and economic migrants will be thrown together in a rush. Some will be trampled, and some boats will be overturned. But many more will reach Italy and Greece. Eventually, the front-line EU states will stop trying to enforce the rules, and will simply wave new arrivals across their territory, tempting even more into attempting the crossing."
The London-based Financial Times lamented the lack of a unified European response to the migration crisis:
"This has been a miserable summer for European ideals. From a bloc founded in the pursuit of peace have emerged frightful images of refugees suffocating on motorway lay-bys, squalid makeshift camps, lifeless toddlers washed ashore, burning asylum centers, serial numbers penned on forearms, the sight of black-clad police pepper spraying families fleeing war. Inundated with asylum seekers, yet lacking the central functions to cope, Europe is divided over what to do. Higher walls? Welcome mats? Is this a national problem or should the burden be shared?"
British political scientist Anthony Glees accused the German government of rank hypocrisy for demanding that Greece comply with the strict letter of EU law to obtain a financial bailout, but that same German government unilaterally dispensed with EU law to open Europe's borders wide open to hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Muslim world. He said:
"Europe's tectonic plates will move if Germany behaves as a hippie state, guided only by feelings. Prime Minister David Cameron said, quite rightly, in my opinion, that the United Kingdom must act not only with the heart, but also with the head. And the question in the UK is that if Frau Merkel now pursues this policy, a very different policy which it pursued vis-à-vis Greece, where will this end? The UK already intervenes militarily in the fight against the so-called Islamic State. Germany, however, has kept its distance from these things. But then at the same time to say to desperate people in Syria and Iraq, please come to the Federal Republic of Germany, many Britons view this as nonsensical. This will have no end!
"I think it may be that Germany still has historical feelings that are completely absent in Britain. It may be that in 2015, there are still memories of what happened with refugees before the Second World War (1938/1939). But in Britain, where we are currently not only fighting terrorism, not only coping with the problem of economic migrants, but also coping with the humanitarian problem, the German approach seems sloppy and not properly thought through, especially when it comes to Europe when the Germans do not abide by the rules. One may think whatever they might about the Hungarian government, but the rules are there, and if Germany does not comply with the rules, the entire Union is in danger of falling apart."
In Brussels, the self-proclaimed capital of Europe, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, insisted that immigration from Muslim countries would be a solution to Europe's demographic decline. He said:
"Let us not forget, we are an ageing continent in demographic decline. We will be needing talent. Over time, migration must change from a problem to be tackled to a well-managed resource. To this end, the Commission will come forward with a well-designed legal migration package in early 2016."
"Europe has made the mistake in the past of distinguishing between Jews, Christians and Muslims. There is no religion, no belief and no philosophy when it comes to refugees."
Although unemployment is rampant within the European Union, especially among young Europeans, Juncker said:
"I am strongly in favor of allowing asylum seekers to work and earn their own money whilst their applications are being processed. Labor, work, being in a job is a matter of dignity...so we should do everything to change our national legislation in order to allow refugees, migrants, to work since day one of their arrival in Europe."
In the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman said that no one had invited migrants to his country, but once they arrive, they should respect the rules of his country or leave. He said:
"If you do not like it, just go away. Someone may consider it appealing to the worst instincts, but this is the same stance that Hungarians share when they are building a fence against Serbia, and Americans who have built a fence on its border with Mexico."
In Denmark, Andreas Kamm, the secretary general of the Danish Refugee Council (Dansk Flygtningehjælp), warned that the current refugee crisis could lead to total collapse of European society. In an interview with the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Kamm said he believes that Europe is facing "a total Armageddon scenario." He added:
"We are experiencing a historical imbalance between the very high numbers of refugees and migrants and the global capacity to provide them with protection and assistance. We are running the risk that conflicts between the migrants and local populations will go awry and escalate. The answer cannot be that Europe imports surplus populations. We cannot be required to destroy our own society."
Danish Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said: "I'm most indignant over the Arab countries who are rolling in money and who only take very few refugees. Countries like Saudi Arabia. It's completely scandalous."
In Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, in an interview with Die Zeit, said:
"The migration crisis presents a formidable challenge. It is bigger than any of us have previously thought — socially, politically, economically, culturally.... Now we will get hundreds of thousands of Muslims with an Arab background. According to what I am told by my French colleague, this is a significant difference as far as integration is concerned.... I am being told that between 15% and 20% of the adult migrants are illiterate.
"We must get used to the idea that our country is changing. School, police, housing, courts, health care, everywhere! We also need an amendment to the constitution. And all this has to happen very quickly, within weeks! This will require a huge change in our established way of thinking."
In an interview with Politico, Josef Joffe, a normally astute Jewish-German intellectual who is the publisher of the newspaper Die Zeit, seemed completely oblivious to the long-term consequences of importing hundreds of thousands of Muslims to Germany, when he said:
"It is a true miracle. Our poster-boy refugee is now the Syrian doctor who combines educational achievement with moral obligation, given the unspeakable cruelty against civilians in the Syrian war. Germany, like the countries of English settlement, is turning into an Einwanderungsland, a country of immigration, accepting different colors, faiths and origins. So Germany is evolving into a kind of America, where you need not be born as American, but can become one. It is a mental and emotional revolution."
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán warned of the "explosive consequences" of culture clash between Europe and migrants from the Muslim world. In a September 3 essay published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Orbán wrote:
"To understand what we must do, we need to grasp the true nature of the situation we are facing. Europe is not in the grip of a 'refugee problem' or a 'refugee situation,' but the European continent is threatened by an ever mounting wave of modern-era migration. Movement of people is taking place on an immense scale, and from a European perspective the number of potential future immigrants seems limitless.
"With each passing day we see that hundreds of thousands have been turning up and clamoring at our borders, and there are millions more intending to set out for Europe, driven by economic motives....
"We must acknowledge that the European Union's misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation. Irresponsibility is the mark of every European politician who holds out the promise of a better life to immigrants and encourages them to leave everything behind and risk their lives in setting out for Europe. If Europe does not return to the path of common sense, it will find itself laid low in a battle for its fate....
"Let us not forget that those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? If we lose sight of this, the idea of Europe could become a minority interest in its own continent."
Referring to Hungary's occupation by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699, Orbán said:
"I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see. That is a historical experience for us."
According to Zoltán Kovács, a spokesman for Hungary's center-right government, the EU's response to the crisis has been a complete failure. He said:
"The EU does not differentiate between those who are in real need of help. Genuine refugees are pushed together with economic migrants. We are not facing a refugee crisis, we are facing a migration crisis. People are coming here from a hundred countries around the world. It is completely unacceptable that illegal means of movement are now institutionalized."
In Slovakia, Prime Minister Robert Fico said that 95% of so-called refugees were actually economic migrants:
"We won't assist in this folly with arms opened wide with the notion that we'll accept them all regardless of whether they're economic migrants or not. If we do not start telling the truth about migration, we will never move from this spot."
Fico also warned of the consequences of untrammeled Muslim immigration. He said:
"Since Slovakia is a Christian country, we cannot tolerate an influx of 300,000-400,000 Muslim immigrants who would like to start building mosques all over our land and trying to change the nature, culture and values of the state."
In the United States, Ambassador John Bolton warned that Europe's migration crisis is America's problem too. He wrote:
"While Americans may believe that Europe, long disdainful of our own intense debate over border-security problems, is getting what it deserves, we should nonetheless focus on both the potential threats and lessons applicable to us.
"One critical cause of Europe's illegal-immigration spike is the growing chaos across the greater Middle East. This spreading anarchy derives, in substantial part, from Barack Obama's deliberate policy of 'leading from behind' by reducing U.S. attention to and involvement in the region. When America's presence diminishes anywhere in the world, whatever minimal order and stability existed there can rapidly evaporate....
"For years, the central cause of population movements into Europe was economic: North Africans crossed the narrow Strait of Gibraltar or headed to France or Italy. Turks and Arabs entered through Greece and Eastern Europe. Once into the European Union, thanks to the Schengen Agreement, travel barriers are now almost nonexistent, and, as in the United States, illegal aliens can essentially travel freely....
"Spreading terrorism, armed conflict and collapsing political authority in the Middle East are now powerful causal factors equaling or exceeding continuing economic disparities. Europe fears being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people on the move, thereby losing control over decisions on who to admit and who to turn away. These concerns are legitimate, but there are deeper risks as well. Mirroring worries in Washington, there is a serious and rising Islamicist terrorist threat hidden within the tides of people seeking refuge.
"The lesson for the United States is that reducing our global influence does not increase international peace and security. Quite the opposite. Obama's retreat from the Middle East, whether in the aftermath of Libya, his disinterest in the Islamic State's continuing rise, or his surrender to Iran's nuclear-weapons program, are all part of the larger pattern. Europe's illegal immigration problem is our problem as well."
Writing for the New York Observer, Arthur Chrenkoff wrote:
"As an unseasonably hot European summer gives way to autumn, the continent is experiencing a mass movement of people not seen since the aftermath of the Second World War. Unlike the end of the war, however, none of the masses currently on the move is European. As hundreds of thousands of people continue to arrive on Europe's doorsteps and throng her roads and railway lines, many conservative commentators see a more apt, and more ominous, historical parallel in the Völkerwanderung or 'wanderings of the peoples' that foreshadowed the fall of the Roman Empire some sixteen centuries ago. Europeans have long historical memories....
"As we reflect on the vivid media images of boats and trains overflowing with desperate humanity, it is important to keep in mind two points: 1) The majority of the 350,000-400,000 immigrants who have arrived in Europe so far this year (these are the known numbers; no one knows how many enter undetected) are not Syrians. In fact, less than a third are, with the rest originating in a miscellany of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. 2) The majority seem to be single, healthy-looking young men, which traditionally suggests economic motives for migration, rather than the fear of death or persecution.
"What is happening in Europe at the moment is not so much, or at least not predominantly, a refugee crisis but a crisis of European immigration policies."
Chrenkoff summed it up this way:
"The control over one's own borders is one of the most important characteristics — and responsibilities — of a modern state. Countries lose control over their destinies and even cease to exist when they lose control over who gets in."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.