Fright­ened Syr­i­ans stuck in East Ger­many mull leav­ing

‘There are no jobs, no con­tact with lo­cals’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

One had a beer bot­tle flung at him on a train. Another was wo­ken at mid­night as three men hold­ing wooden slats rang his door­bell. A third had her head­scarf pulled off by a stranger in the street. A year af­ter they ar­rived in Ger­many seek­ing refuge from war, some Syr­i­ans say they have ex­pe­ri­enced so much an­i­mos­ity that they are con­tem­plat­ing leav­ing.

The trou­ble is, they have landed in the east­ern state of Sax­ony-a flash­point zone home to the Is­lam­o­pho­bic PEGIDA move­ment that has seen a spate of racist hate crimes. “It’s too scary here,” said Fares Kas­sas, vic­tim of the train ag­gres­sion. “The man threw the bot­tle just as the door was clos­ing and the train left the sta­tion. There was noth­ing I could do,” said Kas­sas, who has ob­tained refugee sta­tus in Ger­many but is now con­tem­plat­ing leav­ing for Turkey, where his par­ents are liv­ing.

Mo­ham­mad Alkho­dari, who spoke of a car that pulled up next to him with men pre­par­ing to beat him be­fore he ran away, said he avoids go­ing out af­ter 6:00 pm. “I am so stressed that I have de­vel­oped a stom­ach prob­lem,” he said. In Sax­ony, the num­ber of far-right crimes, in­clud­ing as­saults against asy­lum seek­ers and ar­son at refugee homes, tripled to 784 last year com­pared with 235 in 2014.

Both Kas­sas and Alkho­dari are in the town of Freital, scene of anti-mi­grant demon­stra­tions a year ago. The area is linked to two neo-Nazi groups that plot­ted at­tacks against refugees but were dis­man­tled by se­cu­rity forces last year. In a re­port last month tak­ing stock of the quar­ter cen­tury since re­uni­fi­ca­tion, the govern­ment warned that grow­ing xeno­pho­bia and right-wing ex­trem­ism now threaten peace in east­ern Ger­many. “East­ern states are bad states for refugees. It’s hard to find apart­ments. There are no jobs and no con­tact with lo­cals,” said Alkho­dari, a den­tal hy­gien­ist who des­per­ately wants to move to west­ern Ger­many. un­wanted change af­fect­ing their lives. “There is a feel­ing of ‘leave us in peace, we’ve only just found our way af­ter re­uni­fi­ca­tion and now we’re fac­ing some­thing new again,’” she said. So­cial me­dia has also lifted the ex­pres­sion of ha­tred for for­eign­ers to a “new level”, said refugee aid vol­un­teer Marc Lalonde. “Be­fore this so­cial me­dia ex­plo­sion, peo­ple were prob­a­bly racist but they kept it to them­selves,” he said. Now they see that “they are not alone.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.