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Islam and the West ( 25 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mission Impossible




By Charlotte McPherson

March 24, 2015

The average person watching the news can't help but wonder if some of the challenges for safety and peace in the world are in fact, mission impossible.

Nowadays, Turkey and places never normally heard of such as Öncüpınar, Cilvegöz and Gaziantep are in the headline news in the West as young people from the West use Turkey as a port of entry into the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) conflict area. Individuals from Western nations who are sympathetic to ISIS have gone to join that cause; meanwhile, a few million refugees from Iraq and Syria have had to evacuate their homes and flee for their lives to seek refuge in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Most of the Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have fled to Turkey hope to return to their homeland one day. Life for them in Turkey is not easy. They speak a different language and read a different script, and the majority cannot work legally, and children are missing out on a normal childhood and educational opportunities. Syria was the main country of origin for asylum seekers last year, followed by war-torn Afghanistan and poverty-stricken Kosovo. AFP reported that according to Eurostat -- the European Union's statistics agency -- “the number of applicants for asylum to EU countries increased last year to 626,000, a surge of 44 percent fueled by refugees from the civil war in Syria. The overall figure for asylum applicants [in the EU bloc alone] increased by 191,000 over the previous year, with the number of Syrians rising to 122,800 from 50,000 in 2013.” Once in the EU, travel to the United Kingdom is a breeze.

Here are some of the stats showing the most popular places where refugees sought to go:

Germany registered the highest number of requests, with 202,700, or 32 percent of the total.

Sweden had 81,200, or 13 percent of the total.

Italy more than doubled registered numbers from the previous year, with 64,600, or 10 percent.

France followed with 62,800, or 10 percent Hungary had 42,800, or 7 percent.

British Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to deal with immigration problems, which he terms “Mission Impossible.” A major concern in the West is that jihadists could enter the EU posing as refugees. Western nations are facing many challenges as more people from troubled nations want to immigrate to the West. Greater vigilance is required by border control agencies to prevent jihadists' infiltration by posing as refugees.

Of course, the flip side of the coin is for Westerners in Turkey who have had residence and work permits in Turkey for years are also finding it difficult to renew their permits. It does not seem to matter if they own property or not or have worked legally for a long time in the country. The Turkish government is finding itself between a rock and hard place as Cameron pushes for stricter reforms (such as tighter controls on immigration in the United Kingdom and the EU and the Turkish southern border) and Turkish-American relations are at an all-time low. As a result, the tit and tat is causing difficulties for British and American nationals in Turkey. Individuals are finding that they are having more difficulty renewing residence and work permits due to the friction between Western governments and Turkey. What about Europeans in Turkey? Well, talks have basically come to a standstill. Any discussions of Turkey becoming a member of the EU seem to have gone cold. Unfortunately a lot of political maneuvering is in the works, and as usual those affected are the average man in the street -- or “the man on the Clapham omnibus” or Joe Bloggs (as the Brits say).

These days it is not unusual to hear Western expats discussing their concerns about safety and problems in renewing the necessary permissions to reside and work. Those who are in cross-cultural marriages have a whole other set of issues. Let's say you met your spouse in Turkey and married and had a child together. As a family you have lived only in Turkey. A British spouse and child can go to reside in Britain easily, but the wife/husband can't. With the tightening of immigration rules, this is becoming a common problem in many nations. As terrorism rises, concerns for living abroad and cross-cultural marriage issues become more complicated.

We all know that in any Tom Cruise movie, “mission impossible” means a challenge to be overcome, and Cruise does so single-handedly. I am not so sure this mission impossible will have a happy ending.