While visiting Calais, Francois Hollande promised to break up the “jungle”, the camp where refugees wait in the hope to be able to go to the UK. The president’s promises were just what Calais’ conservative mayor had wished for: the same policy as Nicolas Sarkozy had led when he had the Sangatte camp broken up, with police waking up people in their tents using tear gas.
The state plans to distribute the refugees in reception centers across the country. This is a minimal measure, because it provides no certain future to the few thousand people who will have access – not to mention those who won’t. Yet that was enough to trigger a flood of anti-refugee demagogy. Sarkozy fears seeing France “submerged” in a hypothetical wave of refugees, while his lieutenant Wauquiez launches a petition against the creation of these shelters.
That was enough to rekindle the flames of stupidity. In various places, racists of all kinds organize demonstrations against the welcoming of refugees. The mayor of Allex, a small village in the Drome area, was quick to demand the holding of a referendum on setting up a shelter, while the conservative mayor of Louveciennes organizes an anti-refugee demonstration.
…for which the government is responsible
The authorities themselves gave the signal for the anti-refugee campaign, when they dismantled one part of the Calais camp or when they organized the regular break up of migrant camps in Paris. The government was never alarmed by the spread of xenophobia. This is even an old, commonplace technique.
At a time of multiplying layoffs, while unemployment and insecurity are rising, it even seems like a good alternative solution for those in power to encourage the most dangerous hatreds. If they could convince workers that the cause of their problems come from the 12,000 refugees from Calais or the 20,000 Roma people in France, that would suit them.
And prohibiting the demonstration in support of migrants to be held October 1st in Calais does not indicate otherwise!
The French government does not dare go as far as its Hungarian counterpart, which bluntly called the Hungarians to the polls for a referendum to refuse the welcoming of 1,300 refugees in the country. Despite the millions spent in a one-sided campaign, despite the onslaught of government propaganda, Prime Minister Orban’s team failed to mobilize 40% of voters.
We see this escalation of xenophobic demagogy when it comes to dividing 160,000 refugees throughout the European Union, which comprises 510 million people. That is 0.03% of the European population. Something is wrong with this picture.
The real danger that threatens us
To let our leaders divide us. The people who risk their lives by coming to Europe are fleeing the bombings in Syria or elsewhere, which are orchestrated by the great powers in their fight for influence in the Middle East. These people are certainly not responsible for the blows we receive from our own French bosses.
We have much more in common with any refugee than with one of those politicians who try to exploit our fears.