The big story in all my news alerts this morning is awful enough — that hundreds of Libyan refugees are feared dead in a shipwreck in the Mediterranean. This is from the New York Times writeup:
Europe has been grappling with an influx of thousands of illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East fleeing poverty and war, often traveling in rickety boats operated by smugglers. Many of the boats capsize.
Foreign ministers from the European Union’s 28 member states, joined by interior ministers, are expected to discuss how to avert such disasters in the future, including how to deal with conflict-ridden Libya, which has become a major gateway for smugglers ferrying illegal migrants to Europe.
I’d quibble with the use of the word “migrants.” Aren’t these people in fact refugees of the violence in Libya? And why is Libya a failed state from which tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing? Could it be the result of the actions of a former secretary of State who is now the presumed presidential candidate of a major political party?
For NYT reporter Dan Bilefsky, these questions aren’t even worth asking, much less answering. Although he did conclude with a dire warning:
This latest episode came as far-right parties across Europe have gained in strength, in part by exploiting the simmering resentment of immigrants in some quarters. It remains to be seen whether the extent of the episode will help foster sympathy toward migrants.
You just knew the far-right must somehow be to blame, didn’t you?
Arguably worse however is this Fox/AP story from Friday, which doesn’t seem to be getting nearly as much press:
Italian police said Thursday that 15 African Muslim migrants have been arrested after witnesses said the refugees threw 12 Christians into the Mediterranean following a brawl.
Palermo police told the Associated Press that they had learned of the assault while interviewing tearful survivors from Nigeria and Ghana who had arrived in the city Wednesday morning after being rescued at sea by the ship Ellensborg.
The 15 were accused of multiple homicide aggravated by religious hatred, police said in a statement.
The survivors said they had boarded a rubber boat April 14 on the Libyan coast with 105 passengers aboard, part of the wave of migrants taking advantage of calm seas and warm weather to make the risky crossing from Libya, where most smuggling operations originate.
During the crossing, the migrants from Nigeria and Ghana — believed to be Christians — were threatened with being abandoned at sea by some 15 other passengers from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau.
Eventually the threat was carried out and 12 were pushed overboard. The statement said the motive was that the victims “professed the Christian faith while the aggressors were Muslim.”
The surviving Christians, the statement said, only managed to stay on board by forming a “human chain” to resist the assault.
Here we have a case of actual religious hatred, in which Muslim refugees on board a boat shared with Christian refugees attempted to drown every last one of the Christian refugees — and did manage to kill a dozen of them. And apparently this isn’t the only time something like this has happened, as “another 41 were feared drowned in a separate incident.”
Perhaps the mainstream media might be interested in asking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if her war of choice in Libya has caused tensions to rise between Christians and Muslims. Maybe someone should ask her about why so many refugees — excuse me, migrants — are choosing to flee Libya. A really quite clever reporter might even ask her how her war of choice is destabilizing Europe through the rise of far-right political parties.
Go on, ask.