Sunday, 12 February 2017, by Laiq Ahmed Atif
Recently Malta hosted a summit with European leaders about the need to stem migration through the Mediterranean and to discuss the future of Europe. Last year the Britain voted in favour of Brexit. The post Brexit situation and issues related to it has now become a very important concern all over the world and particularly in the European Countries. The European Countries are also now discussing what the future of Europe will be. Has the European Union proved to be an institution of prosperity and strength for the 500 million people who make part of the EU?
In December 2012, the Head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hazrat, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, made his first visit to the European Parliament in Brussels where he delivered a keynote address in which he highlighted many important issues and spoke about the formation of European Union. He said: “The formation of the European Union has been a great achievement on the part of European countries, for it has been a means of uniting the Continent. Thus, you should make all possible efforts to preserve this unity, by honouring each other’s rights. The fears and worries held by members of the public must be removed. To protect each other’s society, you should be willing to accept fair and just demands of one another, and of course, there should be fair and just demands by the people of each and every country.
“Remember that the strength of Europe lies in its remaining united and together as one. Such unity will not only benefit you here in Europe, but also at a global level for this Continent to maintain its strength and influence.”
I think this message is very strong, and undoubtedly, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Today, when the world has emerged as a global village, the unity of European countries will definitely be instrumental for strength and prosperity of its people and the member states.
At the Malta summit, French President François Hollande also stressed that for an influential EU, unity is the key factor. He said: “We must have a European conception of our future. If not, there will be – in my opinion – no Europe and not necessarily any way for each of the countries to be able to exert an influence in the world.”
I am convinced that the existence of the European Union is not only important but also crucial for peaceful coexistence. The strength of the EU is essential and vital to balance world power and Europe’s strategic position is always very significant in playing its decisive role in any imminent conflict or danger to world peace. A divided Europe could develop instability and uncertainty.
In the current prevailing scenario, the EU stands tall as far as fundamental human rights are concerned. Moreover, the EU is seen as a beacon of freedom of religion, conscious and expression.
European leaders need to bridge the gap between people by listening and addressing their concerns, by highlighting the importance of a united Europe, and by adopting just, fair and policies for the common good. They should adopt cohesive, practical and effective policies. In essence, member states should seek to cooperate with one another so that division is replaced by unity.
If adequate measures are taken then it will soon become apparent that the existing concerns and developing gulf between the EU institutions, member states and citizens, will end and be replaced by peace and mutual respect, provided true justice is practised and each country realises its responsibility.
As far as the issue of irregular migration is concerned, it seems that there is a clear resolve by all member states to counter this problem effectively. The two important summits held in Malta on migration in the span of few months is clear evidence of this resolve.
Every year thousands of lives are lost in attempts to reaching Europe by deserts and sea. This issue should be seen on a larger canvas and the entire region, including European, African and rich Muslim countries need to play their role in saving human lives; and to find permanent and effective solutions to this issue. There is need of a comprehensive and collective operation against human traffickers.
The world powers can assist these unstable countries from where migrants are coming to Europe, in institution building, establishing peace and rule of law, providing sufficient training to their forces in maintaining and securing their borders. Furthermore, assistance needs to be given for the eradication of poverty, hunger, illiteracy of our brothers and sisters.
There is also a need to raise awareness in those countries, with the help of their family members who are living in Europe, about the perils of this journey through desert and sea. It is also essential to raise awareness and to educate people of those under-developed countries, with all the ways and means possible, on how they can stand up on their own two feet. I like this wonderful saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
If there is peace in those countries, it will result in a massive decline in migration. However, as a short-term solution, the United Nations [UNHCR] has opened its offices in some countries, such as Libya and Tunis, where these migrants should be given the opportunity to submit their applications and requests for asylum.
The European Union must face all challenges with complete unity and strength. If Europe remains united in every situation and preserves its unique qualities and principles of justice, freedom and human rights, the future of Europe will certainly be very bright. Original Post:
Laiq Ahmed Atif is president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta