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Turks "Hate" and "Are Disgusted" by Syrian Refugees

Walter Russell Mead

Some troubling—but absolutely in no way surprising—figures out of Turkey:

The Evrensel daily on Saturday reported the findings of a survey conducted jointly by İstanbul Kemerburgaz University and Kent University in the UK. According to questions asked to 1,224 people, 91 percent of respondents believe they have difficulty finding jobs because of refugees, while 94 percent believe rents are on the rise because of Syrians in Turkey.

Other findings are also alarming according to the researchers since 72 percent of respondents say they are uncomfortable encountering refugees. Eighty-three percent of Istanbulites even believe that epidemics are on rise because of Syrians. Similarly, 86 percent of respondents claim that crime rates have increased due to the Syrians’ presence in Turkey as well as a rise in begging on the streets of İstanbul.

Seventy-six percent of Turks in İstanbul do not feel any sympathy towards the Syrians, while 49 percent say they pity the refugees. Over half of respondents, 55 percent, want the Syrians to go back home before the Syrian civil war is over.

Furthermore, 14 percent “hate” Syrian refugees, and 12 percent “are disgusted” by them. Had survey results like this come in before Angela Merkel’s disastrous open door policy was attempted last year, bien pensants in Brussels may well have looked down at the “racist” Turks for being insufficiently welcoming and accommodating to these wretched people.

It’s just more evidence that the only way to assure good treatment for refugees to do everything to prevent their displacement in the first place. Human societies and institutions respond compassionately and constructively to humanitarian emergencies when they are relatively small and contained; once they exceed a certain scale, compassion shrinks and other emotions take over even as the need for compassion grows.

Weak and unfocused U.S. policy in Syria allowed millions to be driven into the most deplorable conditions, spread hate and xenophobia across much of Europe, undermined support for the values Obama cares most about. The ramifications of the Obama Administration’s mistake will continue to ripple destructively in individual lives, and in world politics, for many years to come.

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