Writer: Roshan Setlur is a freshmen in high school, who is an avid member of his Model United Nations Club and wishes to use his voice to make a change.
How Refugees Should “Fit-into” Society
Imagine this: You are a Syrian refugee,who has not only trekked thousands of miles toward freedom, but endured the hardships imposed upon you by the circumstances your family was in in your native country; your home. You have reached Germany, a nation that has kindly offered your family refugee status in a time when you had nowhere else to turn, when all of a sudden, the government officials state that without assimilating to the German culture and learning the German language you and your family; after painstakingly fleeing war-stricken Syria, will be left without refugee status. Such is a reality for thousands of refugees vying for a better life in Europe. One nation in which this idea of assimilation is being implemented, as mentioned in the hypothetical scenario, is Germany, under Angela Merkel’s administration. An article by International Business Times states that Germany’s interior minister had stated, “For those who refuse to learn German, for those who refuse to allow their relatives to integrate — for instance, women or girls — for those who reject job offers, for them, there cannot be an unlimited settlement permit after three years,”. Now you might be asking yourselves, isn’t having the refugees assimilate to the culture of their host nation a good thing? While having refugees become accustomed to the culture of the nation they reside in will facilitate the process of becoming a part of society, many attempts at assimilation have resulted in refugees losing touch with their heritage and culture. Many German officials, who “demand assimilation”, tend to overlook the repercussions of their decisions, as showcased in younger generations.
There are hundreds of stories and anecdotes that truly show why the culture of refugees should not be encroached upon. One such, is the story of Amani Dugmush, a Jordanian refugee, who, under a broken immigration system, had to wait patiently for 18 months in Brandenburg, Germany, for his wife and children to seek refugee status in Germany. Brandenburg, a city with over 800 racially-based attacks against Muslims, was the site of a suspected arson attack against refugees. Such animosity against refugees by the citizens of the host nation is another reason why assimilation is not successful at this point in time. After meeting up with his family after 18 months, Dugmush and his family were able to relocate to Berlin. He states, “Here in Berlin, near my house I have a mosque, Arabic food is near me. My wife is Muslim, wearing a veil. When she goes [out], nobody would speak bad to her.” However, with the new laws that the German government is planning to implement, such a life will become but a dream for westernized refugees.
I believe that it is of utmost responsibility of host nations to respect the culture and heritage of refugees and not infringe upon it by creating laws that force refugees to assimilate to the way of life of citizens; laws that other citizens would not have to follow. In my opinion, I think federally administered “Refugee Integration Facilities” should be created and implemented in host nations to allow refugees to become accustomed to a new way of life, but also to allow them to cultivate their original culture and way of life. It is not a matter of learning German OVER Arabic, it is a matter of learning German AND Arabic. Until next time-this is Roshan Setlur signing off.