The Dalai Lama Takes A Surprising Stance On The Syrian Refugee Crisis

June 2nd 2016

Taylor Bell

One of the world's most recognized and beloved spiritual leaders has joined a list of people that oppose Europe's acceptance of Syrian refugees.

the Dalai Lama

In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Dalai Lama said that Europe had "too many" refugees and that they should eventually move back to their own countries, AFP reported.

"Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country," the Tibetan leader said. "Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult."

A similar sentiment was expressed by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. At a rallying event in Rhode Island earlier this year, Trump said that the U.S. should keep its doors locked to Syrian refugees, according to Business Insider.

"We don't know who these people are," Trump said. "We don't know where they're from. We don't know where they're from. They have no documentation. We all have hearts and we can build safe zones in Syria and we'll get the Gulf states to put up the money. We're not putting up the money, but I'll get that done. But you know what? We can't let this happen. But you have a lot of them resettling in Rhode Island. Just enjoy your — lock your doors, folks."

It is estimated that 9 million refugees have fled their home in war-torn Syria since 2011, however, the majority of those refugees have fled to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. Another 6.5 million are internally displaced in Syria.


But many European countries continue to extend their arms to refugees, especially Germany. Germany, the European country that has received by far the most refugees seeking asylum, has accepted just over 1 million refugees, The Washington Post reports. In comparison, the U.S. has agreed to accept only 10,000 refugees.

In an interview with Germany’s ARD television channel journalist Anne Will last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it was her "damned duty" to welcome refugees.

The UN Refugee Agency infographic

While the Dalai Lama acknowledged the suffering of the families affected by Syrian Refugee Crisis, he is morally opposed to giving refugees permanent residency in Europe.

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

"The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries," he added.

The Dalai Lama is a refugee himself. He fled Tibet and has spent over 50 years in exile in northern India.