The Syrian Dilemma – Accused Even if Proven Innocent

After living through shelling, loss and displacement, the mere fact that they are Syrian has become a cause for suspicion wherever they go. With the spread of terrorist bombings across the world, it has become natural that the first to be accused in any attack is someone of Syrian nationality

The Syrian war that broke out about five years ago has cast a dark shadow over the Syrian people, at home and abroad, producing serious fears among these people, who find that death is no longer terrifying, but rather has become for many a relief they await despite its pain.

After living through shelling, loss and displacement, the mere fact that they are Syrians has become a cause for suspicion wherever they go. One has come to expect encountering difficulties in any act they wish to carry out just because they are Syrian.

With the spread of terrorist bombings here and there across the world, it has become natural and expected that the first to be accused in any attack is someone of Syrian nationality. The evidence is often laughable, to the extent that even Syrians themselves have to joke about it.

“Salem”, a Syrian living in France, said: “After the Paris attacks and the spread of reports that a Syrian passport was found in the area of the bombing, Syrians have been haunted by the possibility of constant pursuit, or even attacks by radicals who refuse the presence of refugees altogether.”

He continued: “Even after the French police announced they had arrested most of those involved, the word ‘Syria’ has not vanished from newspapers dealing with news connected to this issue, making us the constant target of accusations.”

In Cologne, Germany, Syrian refugees were the first to be accused after the incidents of group harassment witnessed by the city on New Year’s Eve. Some were attacked and beaten in Cologne and Bonn in revenge after the incident occurred.

Despite the German government’s announcement that Syrians were innocent of the incident, its consequences have not ended, and Syrians are still subjected to attacks and accusations simply because they are Syrians.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle website reported the statement of a Syrian refugee named Ramia: “My German neighbors were treating me well — they welcomed me and were nice to me at all times. But now, after what happened, they’re scared of me and they’ve started avoiding contact with me. The owner of the house I live in records the names of everyone who visits me.”

“Samar”, a Syrian woman living in one of the Gulf countries expressed her regret Syrians had been subjected to such accusations: “I was visiting a relative in one of the countries of refuge, and as I was returning to my place of residence, at the airport the employee looked at my passport and transferred me to the officer on duty. I went into the officer’s room and after he inspected my passport he asked me, ‘Why did he transfer you to me?’ I told him, smiling bitterly, ‘Because I’m Syrian, of course!’”

“Samar” continued: “The officer was polite. He smiled and apologized kindly, and then permitted me to enter my place of residence.”

Syrians are fearing the consequences after the bombing in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul on Tuesday, which killed 10 tourists and wounded 15 others, especially since the Turkish government announced that the one who carried out the attack was a Syrian belonging to the Islamic State.

Hassan, a Syrian living in Istanbul, said: “With all the bombings and attacks happening everywhere in the world, we’re watching our backs. We’re saying, ‘Now they’ll say the perpetrator is Syrian, and we don’t know when our innocence will be proven.’ All we want is to live in peace.”

He added: “Turkey has provided us with a lot. The Turkish prime minister has announced that the perpetrator of the attack was a foreigner belonging to ISIS, and asked that Syrians not be held responsible for the rise of extremism. But we don’t know how long we’ll have to defend ourselves in a time when everyone is using what’s happening in Syria to achieve their interests.”

He finished by saying: “It seems Syrians will be accused even if proven innocent, for God knows how long.”

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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