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Dalai Lama wades into migrant debate

The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet waded into the migrant question, saying "Europe belongs to the Europeans" and migrants should rebuild their homelands instead.

Published: September 15, 2018, 10:38 am

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    The Dalai Lama made the comments at a conference in Malmo, Sweden, noting even if European countries were “morally responsible” for assisting “a refugee really facing danger against their life,” refugees should ultimately return to rebuild their home countries.

    “Receive them, help them, educate them … but ultimately they should develop their own country,” he said, according to AFP.

    “I think Europe belongs to the Europeans,” he added, saying “they ultimately should rebuild their own country.”

    Sweden has experienced an explosion in violent gang-related incidents involving migrants, contributing to the rise of anti-immigration parties in the country.

    The Dalai Lama arrived at Malmo University for his talk to students on September 13, 2018.

    Katrin Goldstein-Kyaga, professor emerita at Stockholm University, warned in an opinion piece published by national Swedish broadcaster SVT that the Dalai Lama’s statement will be used by the “far-right”.

    She also suggested that after a ten-hour flight from India, he remains a “simple Buddhist monk,” only versed in Buddhist philosophy.

    But the Dalai Lama has often pointed to the mass immigration of the Chinese to Tibet, calling it the biggest threat to his nation’s identity, as it would potentially reduce Tibetans to an insignificant minority in their own country.

    In the past several years alone, Sweden, a nation of 10 million, took in over 200 000 immigrants, resulting in 25 percent of Sweden’s population now boasting an immigrant background, while 18.5 percent were born abroad.

    It is not the first time that the Dalai Lama commented on migrants: In Germany in 2016, he said that “Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country”. He said in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 2016 that there were “too many refugees” in Europe.

    “Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult,” he said, according to Independent.

    “From a moral point of view, too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily,” he concluded.

    The Dalai Lama is a refugee himself. He led thousands of his followers from Tibet to India in 1959 after the Tibetans protested against Chinese limits on their autonomy.

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