Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2018

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


O. Hugo Benevides, Ph.D.


This thesis seeks to assess the German political response to the presence of Syrian refugees from 2015-17 within the cultural context of Germany and the overall EU political approach to the Syrian conflict. To this end, it examines the German media conversation surrounding Syrian refugees, using a quantitative media study done by the UNHCR. In turn, it compares the rhetorical and political approaches of the mainstream German center (Merkel's Christian Democratic Union Party) and the right wing (the Alternative for Germany Party and PEGIDA) within the context of shifting popular German sentiments towards refugees. Considering the internal response, cultural context, media conversation, and the EU foreign policy towards the Syrian conflict, it concludes that Syrian refugees face a society hostile to Islam and large scale migration, a sentiment reflected in the many social hurdles refugees face upon arrival in Germany. In turn, the initial German rhetorical response, characterized by neutral humanitarianism, obscures the firm EU stance against Bashar al-Assad and the material interests of Germany and Europe in the prolongment of the war and Syria more generally.