The Daily Mail welcomes Syrian refugees – but only if they’re Christian

“All the arrivals were Muslims.”

NS

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Railing against discrimination? Calling for the UK to take more refugees? Is this the same Daily Mail your mole has been despairing at every morning since bigotry began?

Sadly, it is. Because you know the Mail – there’s no sympathy for persecuted people without some kind of prejudice behind it. And so it is with its latest story, reporting with horror the lack of Christian Syrian refugees who have been housed in Britain.

“More than 1,100 Syrian refugees were brought into Britain in the first three months of this year – without a Christian among them,” rages its news story, before delivering the devastating revelation: “all the arrivals were Muslims”.

It goes on to quote a charity accusing the UK government of “significant evidence of discrimination”.

What somehow didn’t make it into the story is that the proportion of Christians among Syrian refugees is very low: according to UN refugee agency, just 1.5 per cent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are Christians, and the proportion falls to 0.2 per cent in Jordan, 0.3 per cent in Iraq and 0.1 per cent in Egypt.

The UNHCR also finds fewer Christian Syrians apply to the agency for resettlement.

In the Mail’s article itself, the Home Office is quoted as saying it chooses to resettle refugees by prioritising the most vulnerable. So it’s not like the “Muslim arrivals” in the UK highlighted with horror by the Mail shouldn’t have been resettled here.

Indeed, the Church of England is one of the major institutions behind the UK’s scheme to encourage community groups to sponsor Syrian refugees building their lives here. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has been working with the Home Office to help churches, charities, faith groups and local businesses to support the new arrivals.

And as if an article stirring up hostility towards Muslim newcomers isn’t bad enough at a time when Muslims are suffering a record number of attacks in the UK, the Mail is also playing into the manipulation of sectarianism that President Assad uses for his survival.

The dictator’s regime has deliberately made overtures to its Christian minority (between five to ten per cent), even though Christians are among its victims, in an attempt to divide and rule its population and also as a propaganda exercise to win support from Christians in the West (as the controversial recent visit of British clergymen demonstrated).

But why let that get in the way of a good bit of us-versus-them, eh?

I'm a mole, innit.