People across the West increasingly feel like they are “strangers” in their home countries, with Italy leading the pack.Ipsos Mori research, cited by Chatham House fellow Matthew Goodwin, notes that some 49 per cent of Italians — who have borne the brunt of the migrant crisis recently — agree with the statement: “These days I feel like a stranger in my country.”
Since an expensive and not always entirely effective deal between the European Union and Turkey brought the so-called Eastern Mediterranean Route into Greece under some semblance of control, Italy found itself becoming ground zero for the migrant crisis.Tens of thousands of boat-borne illegal migrants — transported by people-smugglers linked to terror groups and organised crime, aided and abetted by EU and EU member-state ships, as well as so-called “rescue” ships operated by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) — began travelling to Italy.
Initial landfall is often made on islands such as Lampedusa and Sicily before onward travel to the mainland and northern Europe. The former is reportedly in a state of near collapse, while the latter has seen ultra-violent heroin and prostitution gangs taking an increasingly tight grip on its nightlife.
Research in September 2017 found that seven Italians in 10 think the country has too many migrants, while recent regional elections in Sicily saw eurosceptic-leaning, populist parties oust the establishment Democratic Party with a huge majority.
The U.S., which absorbed roughly 300,000 to 400,000 illegal migrants a year under the Barack Obama administration, according to Centre for Immigration Studies estimates, was not far behind in Italy, with 45 per cent agreeing that they now feel like strangers.
Belgium, the seat of many of the European Union’s major institutions and power bases, was next on the list, at 44 per cent. The national capital of Brussels — which is often regarded as the capital of the European Union as well — is home to infamous Islamist enclave of Molenbeek, a popular bolthole for terrorists which often finds itself under something resembling military occupation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the countries on the bottom of Goodwin’s list with the lowest number of people who feel like strangers in their homelands are Israel, on 20 per cent, and Japan, on 14 per cent.
Both maintain a robust sense of national identity, strong border controls, and are strict about who they admit and who meets their standards for naturalisation.