OPINION

Fires expose seeds of European apartheid

Sixty two migrants, most of them from Africa, have died in the fires that have hit the run-down apartment buildings in Paris since April. There is no riddle here. About 1,000 buildings in the French capital are officially declared «unfit for habitation.» They house the thousands of poor who are waiting for the state to grant them subsidized housing. However, fire engulfed only those occupied by migrants… While Europe purports to fight for human freedoms and rights, it actually divides foreigners in two categories: EU and non-EU citizens. The EU takes steps to safeguard people’s fundamental rights but at the same time it sows the seeds of a European apartheid. It fights for a social Europe, a Europe of workers, but, at the same time, does not recognize the political and social rights of migrants who have given a new lease on life to the continent’s social security funds. It talks about social fairness but does nothing to ease racial tension, to soothe fear and hatred toward «the foreigner.» It fights nationalism but does little to cement solidarity with its immigrants. It substitutes the right to be different with the right-wing doctrine of respect for difference, meaning the perpetuation of cultural differences and avoidance of integration. As a result, cultural difference is no longer a right to be recognized but is reduced to a pretext and tool for social exclusion. The official doctrine of tolerance is only a mask to disguise Europe’s cultural chauvinism.