Refugees and terrorists: Are we entering a paranoid era?

In your opinion, how is the European approach toward refugee crisis influenced by our fears of terrorism, especially after Paris attacks? E.g. today there is a report from Austria that two people with suspected links to the Paris attacks were arrested with an Austrian newspaper reporting the two are French citizens posing as refugees.

Adrian GuelkeProfessor, Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict, Queen’s University of Belfast

This touches on a general point, which that fear of terrorism is out of all proportion to the number of fatalities it causes, which are tiny compared to all manner of other causes of violent deaths. The potency of that fear affects public attitudes on a whole range of matters, not least migration. Hostility towards migrants whether or not refugees is also quite strong in a number of societies – so that if a connection can be made between refugees and terrorism, public anxieties can be exploited and are being in a number of societies. There is no rational basis for arguing that refugees per se add to the threat of terrorism, given the respective numbers involved.

Lorenzo NannettiInternational Affairs Analyst

Yes, that is a major factor. Populist parties are pushing hard on that issue and tend to propose a migration = avenue for terrorism equation, which is of course wrong. Of course it may not be 100% wrong (no one will be able to say that it never happens) but it’s a fact, confirmed by several intel agencies and security think tanks that it would be an error to think like that. I saw the news… of course terrorists will use that as an excuse, but they are unlikely to have moved as migrants… since they can move through planes. A Paris attacker arrived in Europe with a EU passport through Prague, then drove, because controls were weaker in the airport there. Another problem, related to this, is that government parties (at least those who don’t share this negative view) can’t muster a successful counter-propaganda that explains reality clearly (or convincingly) enough, and therefore there’s a huge communication problem on these issues. And populist governments of course prey on this.

Mathieu GuidèreWriter, Professor, University of Toulouse

We are entering a paranoid era because we did not deal with this issue rationally since the beginning. There will be more and more cases of suspected refugees since the bombings in Syria intensified by the coalition. We can not bomb people and expect them to stay in their countries under the bombs.

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