Bullocks! What cultural shock? Neither British nor Syrian culture is homogenous. There are almost 2.5 million British citizens who believe in the same value system that most Syrian refugees have. They are known as practicing Muslims, and although most of them come from a non-Arab background, there be enough citizens of Arab background, enough Syrian with dual nationality and enough cultural similarities between all practicing Muslims to make most Syrian refugees able to find communities where the cultural shock is manageable for all involved. There is also bound to be a certain social segment among the refugees that will find much comfort in the basic freedoms available to them in British society, and who will seek to maintain cordial human interaction with all around them irrespective of their confessional background. In all cases, and considering that the UK will be admitting a few thousands refugees at most, and that most of them will be busy for years to come trying to make a normal life for themselves in their new country, the possibility for any trouble-making is pretty minimal.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Thailand and Turkey Morton Abramowitz argues that
“If more Syrians are to be saved we will have to again consider a difficult course of action the administration has always rejected and is not politically popular, using force to insure the delivery of goods to Syrians in desperate circumstances on a continuing basis. If we want to significantly improve the humanitarian equation in any short term time frame this course will be essential. Such a response also offers perhaps another way to enhance the possibility of a political settlement. Whether it will all be seen that way here is another matter.”
Ambassador Abramowitz is right indeed. Humanitarian conditions in Syria are changing from bad to worse on a continuous basis, there is no more room for any further delays if we are to avoid catastrophe.
Whenever he needs them, Assad’s allies are there for him. Well, they are there for their interests really. But their interests dictate that he should stay. Judging from the kind of support, moderate rebels, and before them the nonviolent pro-democracy activsits have received from their “allies” rebels, we are forced to conclude that their interests also demand Assad’s survival, and probably even, the breakup of Syria. Well, the deed is done. Bravo. Now, we have another Middle Eastern Diaspora that we need to cater to. The early waves of “immigrants” from Syria assimilated all too well in their host countries, to the point where their origins no longer matter. The challenge will be to prevent such a development from taking place again, without falling too much into victory mentality and ghettoization. But, early signs indicate that we will fail in this challenge as well. No, Syrian refugees will not forget where they come from this time around, but most will live in ghettos, and rather than except, they might settle down all too comfortably in the role of victims. I want to be wrong in this prediction. I have to be wrong in this prediction.
Even in the best of days, it was not easy being a child in Syria, the educational system was obsolete, child labor an omnipresent phenomenon and future prospects in terms of advancement and employment were dim. But as refugees, their living conditions and the challenges with which they had to contend daily have grown increasingly worse. Omar’s story is a case in point.