I haven’t read the book yet and will perhaps review it when I have, but picking selectively from the Mail review I came across the story of Aboud from Syria, who endured a treacherous journey across the Med in a small boat, almost perishing on the way.
He recalls near-drowning yet, by some miracle, he swims to safety and finally ends up in the German industrial city of Storkow, working as an Amazon delivery driver, locked into a punishing schedule in unfamiliar surroundings.
Says Aboud: “It’s not really like I imagined it. It’s not a German city, really, any more. It’s full of everyone. It’s full of Turks, it’s full of Poles, it’s full of Arabs. And it’s full of crime”.
Continuing his narrative, Aboud tells us: “At work you can see it clearly. It’s the Germans at the top, you can barely see them, they’re behind computers. Then the Western Europeans, the ones who think they are their equals. Then the Turks, they own so much here. Then the Eastern Europeans. Then the Asians. Then the refugees: Arabs, Africans, all of them at the bottom”.
The review itself concludes by informing us that Ben Judah spent half a decade travelling to over two dozen countries to write his book. The Europe he reveals, we are told, “is one totally transformed – in which the continent is blurring with the Middle East and Africa”.
The message we are left with is as stark as it is clear: “What Europe once was it no longer is”. Says the Mail, “We should heed his [Judah’s] words”.
The description of the German city of Storkow is particularly apposite, with the lament: “It’s not a German city, really, any more”. And that must be at the heart of the growing resistance to the flood of migrants affecting so many counties in the Western world – the simple and hardly unreasonable desire of people to be able to live in their country of birth and localities that retain their own, specific national identities.
But what makes the reference to Aboud the Syrian especially relevant is that big changes are afoot in Syria which are about to change fundamentally the estimated 5.5 million citizens who have left the country and sought refugee status – one of the largest refugee and displacement crises of modern times.
After the recent reconciliation between Arab states and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, there is now a growing expectation that many of the refugees will now be able to return home – even if many are unenthusiastic about the idea.