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Paris Attacks Raise Concerns Over Flow Of Migrants, Religious Tensions


You might recall that after the attacks here in this city, a Syrian passport was found beside the body of a suicide bomber here. That fact has many in Europe and the U.S. worrying that the flow of migrants is bringing with it a flow of extremists. My colleague, Joanna Kakissis, has been asking, is that the view shared by migrants and those who work with them? Here she is from an island in Greece that, for asylum seekers, has become a gateway to Europe.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Ahmad Abrumiyya (ph) is 28, a schoolteacher from Daraa, Syria. He's at the main port on the Greek island of Lesbos. He and many other refugees are waiting to board a ferry to Athens. He's trying to reach Germany, where family and friends from Syria await.

AHMAD ABRUMIYYA: Every person here and in Germany is out from Syria because of attacking, because of beating, because of terrorism.

KAKISSIS: Abrumiyya, his wife and 1-year-old son sit on a patch of grass next to a family from Iraq and three new friends from Morocco. He says Greek and European police asked him many questions about Syria and his background. He says they checked his passport again and again.

ABRUMIYYA: Because they are - they do everything, everything related to security.

KAKISSIS: He worries Europeans will see migrants differently after Paris. But he's not afraid militants are hiding among the migrants.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ten on euro, ten on euro.

KAKISSIS: Nearby, an old Greek man is selling overpriced chestnuts that he's roasting on a fire. One of his customers is Elham Mouradi (ph), who's 45 and from Iran. She's sharing the chestnuts with a young mother from Afghanistan.

Are you afraid of other people here?

ELHAM MOURADI: No, I don't am afraid. I think other people were good.

KAKISSIS: Most asylum seekers land in rubber boats on the island's rocky northern coast. They arrive from Turkey, which looks close enough to swim. Spanish lifeguards have been volunteering here since September. One is Miguel Morales (ph), who says it's a privilege to save lives.

MIGUEL MORALES: Refugees are like us, are families like us - like European families.

KAKISSIS: Morales says it's ridiculous to distrust all Syrians because a Syrian passport was found at the Paris attacks.

MORALES: There are more terrorists who are French, and I think nobody in Europe goes to think that French are terrorists.

KAKISSIS: Another lifeguard is Urial Canals (ph), who's 31 and from Barcelona. He invites politicians who would turn away refugees to come to Lesbos.

URIAL CANALS: What is happening here is so crazy. It's so sad, and it's so hard. You know, it's really difficult to understand. And if you are a political leader, and you are at home and with your ministers and blah, blah, blah, you need to come here to see what is happening in the real life here, here.

KAKISSIS: Here, he says, they will see unity - people helping each other off boats, hugging each other, praising God in many languages. And that will put fear into perspective. For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis on Lesbos. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.