Column: Europeans welcoming refugees should be held in great admiration

Faith in humanity restored by Europeans willing to welcome refugees

The brutality and ruthlessness of Syria’s ongoing civil war is causing thousands of Syrians to flee the country and search for new beginnings in Western Europe. The fighting has left neighborhoods and towns shattered, 250,000 civilians dead and an additional 4 million as refugees. When it comes to morality, the obvious course of action should be to help the refugees. However, economic and geographic circumstances are making it difficult to provide this aid.

As the numbers of migrants continue to increase, countries are beginning to limit the amount of refugees they take in. Recent reports state that Germany and Austria are rapidly approaching the maximum amount of refugees they can take in and have introduced temporary border controls.

Germany has taken in a number of refugees unseen since World War II. Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, has been praised for her efforts to help the migrants move into Germany, but she has urged the European Union to recognize that Germany cannot solve this problem alone.

“Germany is willing to help,” Merkel said. “But it is not just a German challenge, but one for all of Europe. Germany can’t shoulder this task alone.”

Despite Merkel's pleas, much of Europe remains divided on the issue. Thousands have come together in various capital cities all across Europe to hold rallies in support of helping the refugees with signs featuring slogans such as “hope over fear,” and “say it loud and say it clear, refugees are welcome here.” Up to 5,000 people took part in a candlelight vigil to honor Syrians in Berlin while another 6,000 participated in a pro-refugee rally held in Vienna.

Following Hungary’s decision to classify unauthorized entry into the country as a criminal offense, thousands of Western Europeans joined in more “Refugees Welcome” rallies. Several cities, including London, Madrid, Athens, Warsaw and others have begun a new movement dedicated to supporting Syrian migrants. As many as 14,000 demonstrators rallied in Hamburg, while an additional 30,000 assembled in Denmark.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann shared his outlook on the situation, stating that “to divide human rights by religion is intolerable.”

However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, anti-refugee rallies have become increasingly common across Europe. At the same time, there has been a resurgence of neo-Nazi violence in opposition to the EU’s efforts to aid those looking to enter Europe. Some Eastern European countries have even begun to protest against those wanting to provide aid to the refugees, holding signs reading, “Get out of EU is the solution” and “Go home.”

While the solution to the refugee crisis may be unclear, those working hard to support and welcome the refugees in their rallies should be held in great admiration. Despite the political, financial and economic difficulty the crisis has brought on, their show of support and humanity is a monumental step in the right direction, not just for Europe, but for the world.

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