Longtime readers of Refugee Resettlement Watch will surely know the name since Guterres served for ten years as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and his office was primarily responsible for the flow of refugees coming to the US now. He is responsible for the fact that most Syrians chosen by the UNHCR to come to America are Sunni Muslims, not Christians.
I thought when I heard the news that his tenure as UNHCR ended in December 2015, that he would be disappearing into the sunset (or catching some rays on a Portuguese beach) after arguably helping create a migrant crisis (or at least his leadership did nothing much to stem it) that looks like it will ultimately swallow the European continent.
Frankly, as I read about him, saw him in person once***, and followed the UNHCR, I saw him as a sullen, lackluster, uninspiring socialist ideologue that he is. But, he must have something going for him at the UN to be chosen over other more colorful, less ideological and more accomplished contenders. I’m guessing he was a favorite of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Perhaps my impression of him as an apologist for Islam was seared in 2009 when he wrote a forward to a study that maintains that it is Shariah law that underpins the world tradition of helping refugees, of welcoming the stranger—not Judaism and Christianity. I was stunned and wrote a post listing all of the Muslim countries headed by Saudi Arabia that do not welcome strangers, not even their fellow Muslims (none have welcomed the Palestinians!), and God forbid would never welcome Jewish or Christian refugees.
Here is the news story that I was responding to:
New York, 23 June (AKI) – The 1,400-year-old Islamic custom of welcoming people fleeing persecution has had more influence on modern international refugee law than any other traditional source, according to a new study sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said that more than any other historical source, Islamic law and tradition underpin the modern-day legal framework on which UNHCR bases its global activities on behalf of the tens of millions of people forced from their homes around the world.
This includes the right of everyone to seek asylum as well as prohibitions against sending those needing protection back into danger, Guterres said in the foreword to “The Right to Asylum between Islamic Sharia and International Refugee Law: A Comparative Study.”
In the study, Professor Abu Al-Wafa, Dean of the Law Faculty at Cairo University, describes how Islamic law and tradition respects refugees, including non-Muslims; forbids forcing them to change their beliefs; avoids compromising their rights; seeks to reunite families; and guarantees the protection of their lives and property.
Now, again, check out my list from 2009 showing just how Muslim countries are NOT (in fact) helping resettle refugees but are moving them on to the West, Australia, and the US.
Since 2009, when I wrote about Guterres comments, several Muslim countries have taken in Syrian refugees (they had no choice as they flowed across borders). Countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are flooded (Saudi Arabia still takes none). However, whenever someone starts to give you that equivalence argument, always remember that the refugees in those countries will not become permanent, voting, citizens. Their residence is temporary. That is not so with refugees coming to the US—they come permanently and become citizens. And, it is the permanent requirement that Guterres has been pushing for years.
Back to Guterres
We are told in several news accounts that he became a member of the Socialist Party in his native Portugal in 1974 (at age 25). By the way, Portugal, to this day, takes very few refugees.
Here is one account at the BBC:
Speaking earlier this year, Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said insiders believed Mr Guterres, from Portugal, “could give the UN the kind of kick up the backside it needs”.
Mr Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949. He studied engineering and physics at the Instituto Superior Tecnico, before going into academia after graduating in 1971.
But academia only held the fervent Catholic’s interest for a couple of years. He joined the Socialist party in 1974 – the same year five decades of dictatorship came to an end in Portugal – and soon became a full-time politician.
In 1995, three years after being elected the Socialist party’s secretary general, he was voted in as prime minister, a position he held until 2002.
Missing from this resume and other accounts I have read is that he was not only a Socialist in Portugal, but lead Socialist International as its President from 1999-2005, immediately preceding his tenure as UNHCR. See more here at wikipedia.
Get out from under the United Nations’ thumb!
So it strikes me that this might be a good time for Americans to reignite a demand that we begin to extricate ourselves (and our money!) from the United Nations.
Indeed we are placing refugees in your towns and cities that have been chosen by the United Nations for us and what do we see—a rapidly expanding increase in the Muslim refugees chosen for us.
And, btw, I don’t believe there is anything in the Refugee Act of 1980 that requires us to do what the UN says regarding refugees. We could pick our own refugees!
We know what the UN is and what they are up to, choosing Guterres as Secretary General is a clear indication that the UN is on a mission to change America by changing its people, and has placed one of the world’s greatest proponents of doing just that at its helm.
See our extensive archive on Guterres by clicking here.
***If you want to learn more, scroll down in this post about a big refugee pow-wow at Georgetown last year and read about Jim Simpson questioning Guterres about why so few Syrian Christians are being resettled.