Washington: The Dalai Lama, widely known for his compassionate views, has said that “too many” refugees are seeking asylum in Europe, according to German news.
Speaking to reporters in the de facto capital of Tibet’s exiled government, he said: “Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country,” in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult.”
It was an unexpected extension of sympathy for a sentiment that has found fertile ground among nationalist groups. The Dalai Lama, who often speaks of humanity’s need to acknowledge its “oneness”, is a refugee himself. After Tibetans rose up against Chinese limitations on their autonomy in 1959, the current (and 14th) Dalai Lama led tens of thousands of his followers to India, where they and their descendants have lived since. An estimated 120,000 Tibetans live in India, and those born in the country can vote.
“From a moral point of view, too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily,” the Dalai Lama said.
The bulk of Arab refugees he was referencing are fleeing Syria’s brutal and seemingly endless civil war, and its spillover into Iraq. Germany has a population of 80 million people and has accepted over 1 million refugees.
Beyond the skepticism, the Dalai Lama did convey his characteristic compassion.
“When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering,” he said. “The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries.”