Alexander Koerner/ Stringer

Europe’s Refugee Culture Clash

Debate about the influx of migrants into Europe has tended to focus on the logistics, such as how to provide enough beds for 1.1 million asylum-seekers in Germany and over 160,000 in Sweden. But, as the recent surge in sexual assaults on women and girls by asylum-seekers shows, the crisis is more a matter of culture than of numbers.

STOCKHOLM – The international Christian organization Open Doors has reported that Christians at asylum centers in Germany – the European country that has accepted the most migrants – face “fear and panic,” owing to widespread harassment by other asylum-seekers. Gay asylum-seekers are offered shelter at special homes in Germany, for their own protection. In Sweden, which has taken in the second-highest number of asylum-seekers in Europe – and the highest number per capita – migration authorities may now establish safe zones for women at asylum centers, where Christians and gays have also reported harassment.

Discussions about the influx of migrants into Europe have tended to focus on logistics, such as how to provide enough beds for the 1.1 million asylum-seekers who arrived in Germany last year, or the more than 160,000 who arrived in Sweden. But, as the conflicts in asylum centers reveal, the challenge is far more complex than that.

Indeed, the refugee crisis in Europe is more a matter of culture than of numbers. And cultural clashes are much harder to address than logistics – especially once they leave the regulated confines of the asylum center, which can mitigate potential conflicts with surveillance and design. How will individuals who cannot share a shelter with gays and Christians without harassing them be able to integrate into liberal European societies?

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