Syrian Refugee Crisis and Religion

The Government's announcement that it will permanently resettle an additional 12,000 Syrian refugees is welcomed by the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA). We support helping displaced and desperate people as much as possible.

However, religion (or the lack of it) should not be a deciding factor in helping those in need.

Calls for help with the Syrian crisis have resulted in worrying suggestions that any intake should be biased in favour of Christians. Unlike the French Prime Minister who unequivocally rejected that idea, the Australian Government continues to leave the door open – at least by implication.

Australians' genuine expression of compassion should not be limited on the basis of belief. Regardless of their cultural and religious background, the harrowing accounts of persecution and powerlessness should not result in prioritising on the basis of whether those in need are of 'the correct faith'.

Combined with the recent Border Force debacle, the AFA is concerned at a tendency towards othering, silencing and promoting fear, which contributes to the worrying rhetoric that exists around refugees to this country. The Government appears to be engaging in "dog-whistle" politics to pander to the likes of Rise Up Australia party, Reclaim Australia, Fred Nile and the Australian Christian Lobby – who have all demanded that Christians be preferenced.

"Charity and humanitarian assistance, funded by all Australian taxpayers, should not be co-opted to preference sectarian interests" AFA President Michael Boyd said. "It should be made available equitably to people of all faiths and none – the plight of non-believers in that conflict having been lost in the distasteful religious clamouring for the lions' share of that charity".

The AFA calls on the Government to adopt a transparent, fully non-discriminatory protocol for selecting 12,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement in Australia, equitably considering applicants of all faiths, and of no faith at all.



Michael Boyd

President
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595

Phone: (02) 8007 4503
Email: president@atheistfoundation.org.au


  • Diana Marr

    I am sure you mean well by your above but misguided comments including:- “Australians’ genuine expression of compassion should not be limited on the basis of belief. Regardless of their cultural and religious background, the harrowing accounts of persecution and powerlessness should not result in prioritising on the basis of whether those in need are of ‘the correct faith’.”

    The elephant in the room is that those who ascribe to certain religious faiths – especially extreme fundamentalists of every kind – are inherently prejudiced against females. It has been claimed that 91% of all the disgraceful (and misnamed) “honour killings” of up to 20,000 women world-wide each year are perpetrated by the (almost invariably male) family members of just one religious group. This is the same religious group that routinely inflicts genital mutilation on countless millions of women and girls in Egypt, Somalia, Iraq and Syria to name a few. It is pure insanity to pretend that by crossing a border into a new country, an asylum seeker” will suddenly renounce all his/her dearly held misogynistic tribal or “cultural” beliefs.

    Forced and frequently under-age marriages are already a major problem in the UK with many thousands of Pakistani muslim girls being married off – to blood relatives like cousins – with a notable increase in serious congenital birth defects. UK sources also claim that over 11,000 cases of FGM have happened on British soil in the last 5 years. Please refer to the excellent and well informed work of the world-famous Baroness Cox. The evidence is out there and it is not “fear-mongering” or inhumane to say “NO” to this sort of barbarity. It IS NOT welcome here!

    Females make up about half the world’s population but it is interesting to note that about 72% of the Syrian “asylum seekers” in Europe today are males. ISIS now claims that they have managed to get over 4,000 jihadi fighters into Europe already. Perhaps you are unaware that the Qu’ran and Hadiths say that migration to spread Islam is a form of jihad known as Hijrah. Therefore what you are proposing is nothing but short-sighted and ill-informed “political correctness” which puts atheists and people of other faiths than Islam at grave risk. As an intelligent humanist, I demand that we do not foolishly encourage or support the further importation of any potential jihadists. They have – during the last 1,400 years – proven to be a bloodthirsty lot and those who fail to take heed of history are doomed to repeat it.

    Perhaps the AFA should be rather more “concerned at a tendency towards othering, silencing and promoting fear, which contributes to the worrying rhetoric” that compassionate people are islamophobic or hateful because; on very good grounds; we reject the dogma that exists around accepting certain refugees to this country.

    You say that “the Government appears to be engaging in “dog-whistle” politics to pander to the likes of Rise Up Australia party, Reclaim Australia, Fred Nile and the Australian Christian Lobby”. But what about the millions of intelligent, humane and reasonable Aussie people who can see the disgusting results of the failed multicultural experiments throughout Europe and the UK caused by the mass importation of people who do not share a belief in freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equality of the sexes?