Analysis of Articles Concerning Syrian Refugees in Italy

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The ongoing civil war in Syria has made Syria a perilous place of persecution, leaving anyone in the midst of it seeking asylum in a different country. As Syrian migrants continue to flood into Europe, there is likewise a continuous flow of different ideals on the matter. In Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa’s article, “Italy Opens the Door to Disaster”, the authors establish credibility through the first-hand accounts of Syrian refugees. The interviews that are conducted create a more trust worthy source. In contrast, Matteo Renzi’s article, “The Mediterranean migrant emergency is not Italy’s. It is Europe’s” is a biased view at how Italy is dealing with incoming Syrian refugees as the article is by the prime minister of Italy himself. The credibility and appeal to emotion in the first article makes it the more effective argument. Light is shined on how migrants entering Italy are dealt with in Doornbos and Moussa’s article, “Italy Opens the Door to Diasaster”.

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The authors imply disapproval of how Italy loosely deals with the incoming refugees through the accounts of refugees themselves. Syrian refugees already have an extremely hard time getting to Europe and the ones who make it still are not out of the woods. Doornbos and Moussa interview refugees who are grateful for how welcome Italy is but are weary that it may be too welcome.

In the eyes of the prime minister, how welcoming Italy is is not a problem but the lack of support from other European Union nations is. In Renzi’s article, “The Mediterranean migrant emergency is not Italy’s. It is Europe’s”, the author talks up Italy as a savior of sorts. Italy is holier than thou, but it cannot continue to be without help. Renzi claims that his country is taking on the bulk of the problem, but it should be Europe as a whole’s issue to deal with. He has the idea that Italy is entitled to receive help and the European Union should be held responsible. If the European Union wants to continue to be safe, they owe it to Italy to help meet whatever security means they deem necessary to do so. The first article starts by describing how dangerous it was for one interviewee in particular to get to Italy. The introduction very quickly opens one’s eyes to what refugees are willing to go through to seek a better life, appealing to emotion. ““The ship felt very much like a floating coffin,” Muhammad said””, as he remembers his treacherous journey over the Mediterranean sea to get to Europe (Doornbos, Moussa, 2015, para. 3). His account of the unruly ship ride to what he could only hope to be safety, again paints a picture of what all refugees have to go through.

Although Italy saved Muhammad’s ship that “the captain abandoned […] leaving [Muhammad and] the [other] desperate 350 immigrants behind, Italy is not too keen on keeping them on their soil (para. 2). Syrian refugees do not want to stay in Italy as the facilities for immigrants […] are notoriously bad, […and as a result, refugees] yearn [] for the travel papers, housing, and financial support offered by countries in Northern Europe (para. 8). Italy puts on a façade that they are the kindest to refugees, but they really do not take that good care of them. This can also be seen in the fact that they simply turn a blind eye to migrants. Muhammad recounts that when he entered Italy, no one registered them or even asked names (para. 7).

In regard to the lack or security measures, refugees fear that “if one terrorist is smuggled to Europe on these boats, the refugees will be blamed, and Europe will stop receiving immigrants” (para. 21). Italy’s turn of a blind eye could ultimately do more harm than good for the incoming migrants seeking asylum. The second article’s attempt at pathos through a patriotic and a false self-serving approach is weaker because of how arrogant the author, Renzi, sounds. Renzi first begins by attempting to shame readers. He points out that “anyone who thinks this crisis can be solved with a tweet or a Facebook post lives in a parallel universe” regarding the refugees trying to reach Europe (Renzi, 2015, para. 1). This insult seems non-necessary but initializes the tone for Renzi’s view of the greatness Italy is doing for refugees. Essentially, while everyone is showing their useless support on social media, Italy is the one doing all the dirty work. The prime minister remembers when Florence had the flood of 1966 and deemed their “people the “angels of the mud” for all the lives they saved (para. 6). He parallels the people of Italy now as “angels of the sea” for all of the lives they too are saving. The comparison is weak and although it is an attempt at pulling at the heartstrings, it falls short in relevancy. Renzi further goes on to bolster the idea that Italy is more than capable of facing the immigration problem alone. They are “a great country that will not fall into hysteria” […] because on [their] shoulders [they] have centuries of civilization” (para. 10). The author rambles on patriotically but then goes to claim that they cannot continue their work without the help of the European Union, so his argument contradicts itself.

In comparison of the two articles, the first one utilizes emotional appeal stronger. There is an appeal to sympathize with the refugees’ situation. The writing itself draws the reader in and has a nice flow through the connected interviews of refugees who all share the same burdens. While the second article is more so a failed attempt at a patriotic tangent and a cry for help. Doornbos and Moussa’s introduction additionally fortifies through statistics how desperate Syrian refugees are and at what lengths they will go for the promise of a better life in the European countries. Refugees risk their lives just to cross the Mediteranean. They travel in fear justifiably because “according to the U. N. Refugee Agency, almost 3,500 people drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life in Europe in 2014 alone” (Doornbos, Moussa, 2015, para. 4). The refugees that do make it over the sea still face troubles.

Although refugees “want[] to move either to Germany, Sweden, or the Netherlands”, they first set their feet on Italian soil because it is the easiest to reach (para. 9). In doing so however, “there is one condition: Migrants can only seek asylum in the first European country where they are registered” so if registered in Italy, they cannot leave (para. 10). This law is being ignored by Italian officials who already have a weaker infrastructure and are a poorer country than its Northern neighbors. They are not registering incoming migrants which is why when “a total of 217,724 Syrians applied for asylum in the European Union between April 2011 and December 2014. Although a majority of these migrants arrived in Italy, only 1,967 — less than 1 percent — stayed there” (para. 17). Italy is not registering refugees because they do not want responsibility for them. Unlike the first article, the second one does not use many logistics to support the given argument. Renzi (2015) states that “aboard the ships of our navy and coastguard, three babies have been born in the past six months” (para. 4).

The babies were of Syrian refugees that Italy’s “angels of the sea” saved. Renzi’s continual claim of Italy’s generosity is not lost with this poorly thrown in fact. His objection to the lack of interference of aid given by the European Union frustrates Renzi. The author asserts “this is what happened in Libya, where intervention put an end to a brutal dictatorship, but that intervention wasn’t followed up with a strategy to deal with the aftermath. We are, as a consequence, now paying the price of this failure” (para. 9). This draws him to the conclusion that in staying out of things, the European Union will have more to pay for later than they will now. Out of both arguments, it is clear that the statistics given in the first article heavily outweigh those of Renzi’s in the second article. Doornbos and Moussa’s facts supported each claim they followed, making their claims credible. Renzi’s claims were like puzzle pieces a child puts together, they forcibly fit in, even if there was a better fit somewhere else. In continuation of Doornbos and Moussa’s strong argument, their credibility is set in stone through their stylistic approach at weaving in Syrian refugee interviewees’ accounts and thoughts on the situation. Muhammad is their main interviewee who’s recounts support many of the claims Doornbos and Moussa make.

Muhammad claims that,“nobody checked us upon reaching Italy, […] No coast guard, no policeman ever asked if we had papers. Nobody registered us, nobody took a photo of us, nobody took our fingerprints, no one asked us who we were (Doornbos, Moussa, 2015, para. 7). The authors use Muhammad, the Syrian refugee as a credible and tangent source of information to support their claim that Italy’s over willingness to let refugees come and go as they please is a dangerous move. Doornbos and Moussa also claim that “Muhammad’s account is no isolated story” (para. 16) They had conducted “interviews with over a dozen Syrian asylum seekers who recently crossed the Mediterranean Sea to illegally reach Europe” just as Muhammad did (para. 16). The additional interviewees further make their argument more conceivable. The issue with Syrian migrants entering Italy and how careless Italian officials are essentially just trying to get them out of their own hair can only really be conceived through the people who are experiencing these things first hand. Through an outsider’s view, Matteo Renzi plays his ethos cards poorly. He is the prime minister of Italy, yet he never brings that point up. Renzi (2015), however, states that he “used to be the mayor of Florence” (para. 5). This is followed by a brief history lesson on Florence. This was an unnecessary bit of information that could have been used more wisely.

The author could have strengthened his argument on needing the European Union’s help if he made it known how important of a role he plays in the Italian government. Renzi does make a good argument when addressing the ethics for which the European Union was based off of. The European Union was founded on “a set of values, for civility and peace […] – not for bond spreads and stability pacts, but for these values (para. 12). This establishes where Renzi is coming from when he presents the idea that the European Union should be held accountable as a whole for dealing with immigrants. Regardless of Renzi’s credibility as an expert of Italy, Doornbos and Moussa still hold the stronger argument. Renzi again did not play his cards right and consequentally missed an easy mark. He argued too personally while the first article took a step back and utilized the Syrian refugees recounts to establish their credibility. Doornbos and Moussa were aware of the policy regarding where refugees can seek asylum and took interviewees first hand experiences with a law that was not being enforced and built their argument around them. Renzi, although a political figure, talks politics loosely. In his position it is assumed he would know policies and the such but never dictates any. His argument could be stronger if he swayed from the personal rant and focused more on specific politics.

Given these arguments, Doornbos and Jenan Moussa’s article, “Italy Opens the Door to Disaster”, is the stronger of the two. There is a clear and credible view of the refugee situation given by refugees themselves in comparison to the outsider view of Matteo Renzi’s article, “The Mediterranean migrant emergency is not Italy’s. It is Europe’s”. Renzi’s article is contradictory, and he brings up irrelevant things that do not support his argument that Italy can only continue their good work through the aid of the European Union. Doornbos and Moussa inform us of how dangerous it is not only getting to Europe but how refugees still face issues when they get to Europe. Refugees are grateful for Italy’s leniency, but they realize too that this threatens the future continuance of the acceptance of refugees into Europe due to how easily terrorists can enter the countries. Renzi claims that Italy will continue to do as they have been but if the European Union has an issue with it or wants more control over the situation due to the threat of terrorists, they must get involved. Whether which side is correct is still debatable but Doornbos and Moussa ultimately present the stronger argument and is therefore more effective than Renzi’s.

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