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As Europe lectures refugees, a handy illustrated guide for how the West should behave in the Middle East

Posted by Bethan McKernan in news

More than one million people mostly from the Middle East and North Africa are thought to have arrived on Europe's shores last year, most of them fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty at home.

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(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The EU and its member states have not responded to the ever-escalating refugee crisis well. Border controls have been resurrected, xenophobic anti-immigration movements are gaining traction across the continent, and to date only a handful of the promised quota of 160,000 refugees have been resettled.

One way countries are dealing with new arrivals is by printing text-free airplane safety guide format guides to life in Europe for new arrivals.

Unfortunately, as journalist and author Karl Sharro has pointed out, these are at best, simplistic:

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People of the same sex holding hands is a fairly common expression of friendship across the Middle East. (Also, people in Europe are gay?!?! Who'd a thunk.)

At worst the guides are downright offensive, playing off stereotypes that suggest people from outside Europe can't understand basic human interaction unless it's explained in patronising diagrams:

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One such introduction to life in Germany recently published by a Munich-based public broadcaster got under Sharro's skin.

Speaking to i100, Sharro said in an email that "condescending" behaviour guides wouldn't solve anything.

I think the problem post [the new year's eve sex attacks in] Cologne was trying to reach out for easy explanations but also thought the fear of discussing the attacks to not give support to racists hugely problematic. It should be discussed openly to not allow the issue to fester.

To drive home how ludicrous some of the advice for new arrivals is, Sharro flipped the idea, creating his own illustrations about how the West should and shouldn't interact in the Middle East:

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Image: Karl Sharro

So to recap, that's:

  • No dropping bombs

  • No invading countries

  • No sale of chemical weapon components

  • No sale of weapons

  • No imprisonment of innoncent people, a la Guantanamo

  • And no cuddling up to autocrats like Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi


Are we all clear on that?


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