Images of tracksuit-clad migrants jumping on high-speed locomotives have become the norm of recent. French police reported that they have intercepted over 18,000 clandestine migrants attempting to illegally enter the United Kingdom on lorries, trains and ferries in the first half of 2015 alone. Current reports suggest that approximately 4,000 migrants are living in self-made ghettos on the outskirts of Calais with 100 – 150 new arrivals everyday, all desperate to reach the United Kingdom.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Husein, recently criticised a columnist in a British tabloid for ‘inciting racial hatred’ and referring to migrants attempting the Mediterranean crossing as ‘cockroaches.’  The tabloid in question has the widest readership of any paper in Britain. The High Commissioner went on to compare the xenophobia in elements of the British press as akin to that found in propaganda produced by Rwandan media outlets prior to the genocide in the 1990’s. Self-evidently such sentiment has no place in any society that professes to be civilised, however the increasing confidence and impunity with which those not simply on the fringes of the political spectrum, but the mainstream as well, attack migrants is a worrying development for all in Europe. Our history as a continent is an illustration of where divisive, anti-migrant and nationalist rhetoric can lead. The modern migrant crisis, with 1 in every 122 people displaced due to war, environmental pressures and state oppression, is a situation unprecedented in the years since the formation of the European Union.  This article will consider the potential havoc the invocation of resurgent nationalist identities across the continent, partially in response to this crisis, could cause to one of the biggest political projects in the modern world: the European Union.
By Pauline Mettan, translated by Charlotte Grey
In his celebrated poem, West-ostlicher Divan, Goethe’s dedication to the Iranian poet Hafez begins “My intention is to link East and West, past and present, Persian and German, and to have the mores and modes of thought of both sides overlap one another.” And so our friendship with Iran was formed. Read the rest of this entry »