The Calais Migrant Crisis and the Moral Panic

Wealth is not in vast riches but wealth is in self-contentment.”
(Sahih Bukhari & Muslim)

The simmering Calais migrant’s crisis has boiled over. Deaths have taken place; the M20 has been closed and more than 6,000 Lorries have been waiting to cross to France. Holidaymakers are facing delays and cancellations. The problem continues. The migrant crisis is an issue of international complexity and therefore facile solutions and easy scapegoating is not going to resolve it.

The current moral panic about illegal migrants seems to be based on the fact that Britain’s asylum system is overloaded, underfunded and creaking. Therefore, we should not be allowing any more migrants in because all they want to do is come to Britain and take advantage of generous benefits and free council houses.

However, according to the Refugee Council, Britain’s policy towards migrants and asylum seekers is “very tough” and often dysfunctional. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and state support can be as little as £5 a day. They do not get a council house as they cannot jump the queue for council housing. Further, when people are recognised as refugees they are given permission to stay for only five years and can have their cases reviewed at any time.

There are a number of other factors that ought to be considered when dealing with the ‘migration’ problem. Our NHS is held together by immigrants, with 30 per cent of our doctors coming from abroad. There is no doubt that the motivations for many of migrants are likely to be economic, but this is not a new story. Most of the migrants that have been coming to Britain for centuries have had similar motivations. Human beings move for a better life. Our common ancestors were most likely to have been migrants at one stage or another.

The Calais problem has been around for years, but it has been sharpened recently because of the massive increase in refugees across the Mediterranean and it is only going to get worse. Large numbers of migrants are heading elsewhere in Europe, including Greece, which is less equipped than anywhere else to deal with them and Italy, which is discontented with France’s unwillingness to take some of the migrants. However, more than four million refugees have left war-torn Syria for Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and somehow they are going to find ‘home’ somewhere on this earth. There are no swift solutions given the conflicts around the globe. But the solution to the Calais crisis and other migrations crises lie in the creation of conditions around the globe that would keep people in their own homes.

The sad thing about the events of the last few days in Calais is that those involved have come to be seen as problems rather than people. It is a moral question.

In the midst of ‘migrant madness’, we must not forget our humanity. Compassion rather than outright dismissal should be shown to those who are fleeing persecution in their own countries. Calais is increasingly becoming a humanitarian crisis rather than an economic issue.

The migrant crisis requires British and French governments to demonstrate political courage and human compassion to deal with the present global movement of refugees that is now bigger than at any time since the Second World War.

Our amicable and compassionate response to the refugees and migrants of Calais will showcase our ‘British values’.

By Qari Muhammad Asim
Senior Imam – Makkah Mosque, Leeds

Note: The views expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of ImamsOnline.

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