I saw an interesting comment in this week’s issue of Private Eye about how the UK government is refusing to offer asylum to Iraqi’s who helped the British forces – such as Arabic translators – working in Iraq. As the Allied forces withdraw, they leave behind their Iraqi “collaborators” who are now facing retribution from some sectors of the country.
The USA is offering Green Cards to translators, and Denmark is offering asylum to the same. It’s something I have been vaguely aware of, but the article reminded me of the problem.
Morally, I feel the UK government is wrong – but lets look at this dispassionately.
The Defence Secretary says that since 2003, some 20,000 Iraqi’s have worked with the British military and he wants to prevent a “flood” of arrivals overwhelming the system. I would guess that we are probably talking about 150,000 people in total if you bring immediate family with you.
That isn’t actually that many people – and far less than the recent immigration wave from Eastern Europe – many of whom are now returning to their native homes. We should also remember that these are English speaking people, so the burden on the UK social system should not be any worse than it was for European workers coming to the country.
You could say that we are offering asylum and picking up the burden of cost for some 20,000 families. Would it be a burden though? These people are not itinerant street sweepers, but being English speakers in pre-invasion Iraq, they would have to be educated professionals – and a worthy addition to the UK labour force. Indeed, the majority of them probably have skills which the UK is crying out for right now.
In addition, we should note that these are people who volunteered to work with the British militaryÂ – is that a factor?
We are told that there are problems with radicalization of Muslims in some British communities – so what would be the impact of importing some 150,000 moderate, pro-British Muslims into the British Islamic community?
Personally, I think it would be hugely beneficial to the moderate Muslims who seek to correct the views of their more hot-headed members to interact with people who have actually been in Iraq and know what it is like on the actual battleground. These Iraqi Muslims are not going to be radicalized – as they were working with the British Army!
So, granting asylum to our Iraqi friends is not only morally correct – but could be economically beneficial and a huge help in containing Islamic fundamentalism in the UK.
I find it odd frankly, that when faced with the benefits – that the UK government is still being difficult on the issue.