Does politics go against religion? Church and migration in today’s Europe.

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Does politics go against religion? Church and migration in today’s Europe.

While religious organisations wish to protect refugees, governments wish to protect their borders. Find out more about politics and religion in Europe.

During recent months, European churches have raised their voice for the sake of Afghani refugees and their rights.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] While several churches have stressed the importance of helping those in need, different countries see migrants and their situation as part of their politics.[6] [7] [8] Let us look at what has been happening in different European countries.

Does religion go against politics?

When the Taliban gained power in Afghanistan, different churches and religious organisations asked politicians to bring back those refugees that had been repatriated.

In Sweden, a number of pastors asked the Swedish state to bring back those refugees that had converted to Christianity while in Sweden. According to the pastors, these converts risk being sentenced to death, due to their connection to Christianity.[9]

Also in Finland, the Finnish Ecumenical Council wanted to bring back those refugees that had been sent back to Afghanistan. Similarly, the Council asked to revise all rejected asylum applications.[10]

The Catholic Church in Poland also urged people to pay attention to the several thousand refugees coming into the country from Belarus. Many of these are from countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. They cross the border between Belarus and Poland in order to reach the European Union.[11]

When it comes to the European Union, Caritas Europa asked the EU to give refugees from Afghanistan different ways to get resident permits. In addition, those Afghani refugees that are already in the EU should not be repatriated, according to Caritas Europa.[12] On a similar note, the Sant’Egidio movement stressed the importance of helping Afghani women and girls in particular. More generally, the movement encouraged humanitarian corridors in order to help the Afghani people.[13]

Does this mean that religion is against politics? Religious leaders and humanitarian organisations focus on the needs of the refugees. They all criticise, at least in part, the politics and regulations of different countries.[14] [15] [16] [17] [18] Does this imply that politics goes against religion in today’s Europe? Let us look at some examples from different European countries.

Does politics go against religion?

Migration politics and asylum proceedings differ depending on the EU country. More generally, the EU has a number of common strategies to deal with great numbers of migrants. Among other things, these focus on preventing illegal immigration and supporting Central Asian countries that host many Afghani refugees.[19] [20]

In July 2021, Sweden stopped the repatriation of Afghani refugees due to the worsening of the situation in Afghanistan.[21] Between the 22th and the 31th of August 2021, Sweden evacuated 650 people from Afghanistan.[22] However, the Swedish Migration Board will neither prioritise nor make any exceptions for giving residence permits to people from Afghanistan.[23]

In August 2021, Finland decided to evacuate a total of 298 people from Afghanistan.[24] However, the Finnish Immigration Service makes no exception for permit applications coming from Afghanistan.[25] At the same time, Finland has stopped all repatriation to Afghanistan, starting July 2021.[26]

Poland and the EU see migrants coming from the Belarussian border as a political pawn at the hands of the Belarussian government.[27] [28] [29] Many of the migrants come from Afghanistan and the Middle East.[30] According to the Polish government, Belarus is sending migrants towards Poland, which marks the easternmost border of the European Union.[31] The EU condemns the use of migrants as political pawns and is preparing new sanctions towards Belarus. [32]

The EU has not committed to receiving a specific number of Afghani refugees.[33] [34] On different occasions, the EU has stressed the importance of protecting its borders, preventing illegal immigration, and sending refugees to non-European countries.[35] [36] [37] [38]

Religion and refugees, politics and migration

Different churches and religious organisations focus on the needs and rights of the Afghani refugees, pleading for more generous migration policies. On the other hand, both single countries and the EU do not seem willing to make exceptions for welcoming Afghani refugees. Does that mean that, when it comes to migration, politics is in conflict with the beliefs of religious organisations? No matter how we answer that question, religious organisations and countries have different focuses. In other words, where religion sees refugees, politics sees migration. If politics and religion continue to be in conflict, migration will continue to be a matter of permits and borders. However, if politics listens to the call of religious organisations, migration might become a matter of saving human lives.

Annamaria Laviola-Svensäter

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[1] Les Églises européennes appellent à la solidarité avec les Afghans

[2] Pope discusses Afghan refugees with president of European Council

[3] Ekumeniska rådet i Finland: Kyrkorna i Finland är afghanernas medvandrare – evl.fi

[4]Sant’Egidio kräver humanitära korridorer från Afghanistan

[5] Maria Nyman på Caritas Europa: EU får inte avvisa afghanska flyktingar

[6]EU, fearful of refugee crisis, delays response on Afghan asylum

[7] Why Europe must end limbo for Afghans seeking asylum

[8] Kyrkan i Polen kritiserar likgiltighet inför flyktingar

[9] Evakuera konvertiterna som utvisades till Afghanistan

[10] Ekumeniska rådet i Finland: Kyrkorna i Finland är afghanernas medvandrare – evl.fi

[11] Kyrkan i Polen kritiserar likgiltighet inför flyktingar

[12] Maria Nyman på Caritas Europa: EU får inte avvisa afghanska flyktingar

[13] Sant’Egidio kräver humanitära korridorer från Afghanistan

[14] Kyrkan i Polen kritiserar likgiltighet inför flyktingar

[15] Maria Nyman på Caritas Europa: EU får inte avvisa afghanska flyktingar

[16] Sant’Egidio kräver humanitära korridorer från Afghanistan

[17] Ekumeniska rådet i Finland: Kyrkorna i Finland är afghanernas medvandrare – evl.fi

[18] Evakuera konvertiterna som utvisades till Afghanistan

[19] Maria Nyman på Caritas Europa: EU får inte avvisa afghanska flyktingar

[20] Draft Action Plan responding to the events in Afghanistan

[21] Migrationsverket beslutar om verkställighetsstopp till Afghanistan

[22] [2021-08-31] Drygt 650 kvotflyktingar från Afghanistan har tagits emot i Sverige

[23] [2021-08-30] This information applies to persons who have family in Afghanistan

[24] Migrationsverket är berett att ta emot ytterligare evakueringar från Afghanistan enligt statsrådets beslut

[25] Situationen i Afghanistan

[26] Migrationsverket är berett att ta emot ytterligare evakueringar från Afghanistan enligt statsrådets beslut

[27] Tusentals migranter vid polsk-belarusiska gränsen

[28] Flyktingar fast i ingenmansland mellan Polen och Belarus

[29] Kyrkan i Polen kritiserar likgiltighet inför flyktingar

[30] Kyrkan i Polen kritiserar likgiltighet inför flyktingar

[31] Flyktingar fast i ingenmansland mellan Polen och Belarus

[32] Tusentals migranter vid polsk-belarusiska gränsen

[33] EU, fearful of refugee crisis, delays response on Afghan asylum

[34] Why Europe must end limbo for Afghans seeking asylum

[35] EU, fearful of refugee crisis, delays response on Afghan asylum

[36] Why Europe must end limbo for Afghans seeking asylum

[37] European Commission: suspend deportations to Afghanistan, but deport Afghans to other “third countries”

[38] Draft Action Plan responding to the events in Afghanistan