What about those Muslims, Daniel?

Here’s a popular question I’ve received from people who got angry about my refugee post:

“Why don’t you complain about all those Muslim/Arab countries that have taken in ZERO refugees, Daniel? Why are they not helping?!”

Short answer:

I live in Denmark, not in any of the countries you’ve mentioned. I can try to make an impact here, but I can do far less to influence the policies of other countries.

Longer answer:

When you point out that “Muslim” countries are not helping, you’re showing your own bias and perhaps deliberate lack of insight.

  • Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, is the top destination for displaced people, with 1.9 million Syrian refugees.
  • Lebanon, member of the Arab League with a Muslim majority, has 1.2 million Syrian refugees. That’s around one quarter of the country’s total population – by far the highest per capita refugee percentage.
  • Jordan, a Muslim country and member of the Arab League, hosts over 650,000 refugees.
  • Iraq, a Muslim country and member of the Arab League, has around 250,000 Syrian refugees.
  • Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country and member of the Arab League, is hosting almost 150,000 refugees.

So using the umbrella term “Muslim” or “Arab” says less about Muslims and more about the person using the terms.

Now, indeed, a number of rich Gulf countries have not offered any resettlement places for Syrian refugees. These countries include Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. (Although Saudi Arabia is challenging these numbers due to differences in how “refugees” are defined)

Why that is the case is a rather complex topic, one that I will not presume to know nearly enough about. It may have something to do with their generally strict refugee policies (as this article points out), political and social factors, etc.

But here’s the thing: What other countries do or fail to do is irrelevant for how we as a wealthy Western nation respond to the crisis. Pointing fingers at someone who’s behaving even worse than you is a deflection tactic a five-year-old might use.

If you think Denmark has reached the limit of what it can possibly do to help others, that’s fine. Say that, and stop pointing out how horrible other countries are. This isn’t a competition. We’re talking about real human beings here.

Hope that helped to clarify my thoughts on the subject.

Sources (Clickable):
Amnesty International
Syrian Refugees
UNHCR

If you’re in Denmark, here’s a bunch of stuff you can do to help refugees. If you’re not in Denmark, you can help as well.

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