New York, June 1, 2016: Dalai Lama is not a man to mince words, but we only expect soothing and pleasing words from him, but his take on the refugee crisis is a bolt from the blue.
Germany took in 1.1 million refugees last year from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and other countries amidst much debate and controversies and Dalai Lama’s words on the issue has ignited a fierce social media debate.
In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the Buddhist leader is said to have said these things:
Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country
Germany is Germany
There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult.
From a moral point of view too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily
The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries
In short, Dalai Lama is not in favour of permanent migration of refugees, he is fine with taking them in ‘numbers’ so that Germany does not become an ‘Arab’ country and the situation does not become ‘difficult’ to ‘manage’.
Compared with Pope, who has been more receptive and also is far more influential in Europe, Dalai Lama’s words seem really harsh.
There are critics who are pointing out that he and his people are also refugees in India and hence, should at least he have been more ‘sympathetic’.
This criticism makes sense to those who do not know the shallowness of their argument and do not really understand Dalai Lama or the Tibetan and the refuge in India issue.
Tibetans by all means have been model citizens, and have always shown the desire to go ‘back’. They have not come to India to ‘settle down’ permanently and are not in conflict with Indian population or among other groups either on basis of their religion or habits. They are much like the Parsis who were also given refuge in India and are widely praised for their model conduct.
Also, Tibetans practice Buddhism which has its roots in India and many Indians consider Dalai Lama to be as ‘Indian’ as he could be.
This kind of sentiment seems to be missing in the current refugee crisis. The overwhelming population of refugees is Muslim and highly orthodox which seems to be in direct conflict with the European ethos and population. This may seem a little too harsh but considering the Cologne sexual attacks, the people in Europe are indeed very worried. They may not be sympathetic to the Far Rightists who wish to close the borders completely, yet they desire security of their values and their freedom. No Tibetan has ever forced Indians to feel like this and it is unlikely that the case would be such even in future.
Now considering all these things, it seems all that the Dalai Lama did was put forward the same principles for the refugees from the Middle East as he has seen the Tibetans gleefully exercise in India.
Also, since India and its people have no problem with Dalai Lama and the Tibetans, the critique of his being a refugee does not hold any water, whatsoever.