For the last serval months, the ongoing refugee/migrant crisis has become the dominating story amongst European countries. Whether it is interviews with politicians or ordinary people marching to support the refugees on the news, it is quite clear that majority of the people hold a positive view that something has to be done to help these people. However, looking at online comment sections under articles or polls relating to the crisis, it seems that same sentiment is not shared by all.
It's collectively known that online comment sections are not exactly the nicest places...and that's putting it very mildly. The usual problem within comment sections are 'trolls': users who are looking to bait others into an argument or just outright insult the author for entertainment purposes. Yet, in this instance that is not the case. The more troubling factor is actually the very dark, and in some cases extreme comments being posted about the refugees or people who support them.
Having read hundreds of comments from a variety of different articles, all written by different media outlets, it's quite clear that an overall consensus can be made. The majority of the comments are negative, aimed at attacking the refugees coming to Europe. These comments are all based around similar concepts, for example the way the people are dressed or their gender. Other comments are rooted in Islamophobic views or directly insult the few people who have commented to support refugees.
One of the comments that appeared the most was centred on the allegation that all the refuges are in fact not refuges, but instead just 'greedy young males'. To these users the arrival of refuges into Europe means that it is now unsafe for Western women. A comment even alleged that 'Germany is the second rape capital of Europe' due to their willingness to accept refugees.
The comments on Europe's safety continued to roll on, even past the allegation of rape and onto the concept of terrorism. Users are claiming that these men are in fact members of the Islamic extremist organisation known as ISIS or Islamic State, and that 'we shall all lose our heads'. Other Islamophobic comments, not based around ISIS, were also used frequently. Comments such 'Islam is not compatible with democracy and free society'.
As demonstrated by some of the comments above, users are not holding back on their defamatory views towards these refugees. It is disgusting to refer to these people, who have fled persecution and war-torn countries as 'wet backs' and 'parasites'. Attacking their character and motives for travel by labelling them terrorists and rapist is almost laughable. Trying to forcefully categorise such a vast amount of people is clearly a scaremongering tactic to exasperate the issue.
These comments are sadly just the tip of the iceberg, there are thousands more like it online; making comment sections a very disturbing and dark place to visit. The majority of people, who see such absurd claims, know that they are false, nonsensical and based around ignorance.
However, the fact that they exists and are being continuously written definitely raises some concerns. We mostly only see support for helping refugees, whether it's in the form of rallies and demonstrations or interviews by the media with government officials or leading charities. Nonetheless, we must recognise that there is opposition to this support and while it's mostly only expressed online their views a very strong and steeped in animosity.
Engaging with these people is often not the best course of action to take, as it is likely you will just be plagued with further ridiculous and irrational arguments. As the saying goes, 'entertain a clown and you become part of the circus.' Yet, it is satisfying to see someone pull a commenter up on their ignorance and absurdity.
...Here's hoping more people continue to do so!