The Threat to Liberal Democracy from the Backlash Against Immigration and Refugees

In his new book, Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy, Sasha Polakow-Suransky chronicles how the backlash against refugees and immigrants has reshaped the political landscape in Europe and the United States.

For his Open Society Fellowship, he focused on public reactions to refugees and asylum seekers, the rise of anti-immigrant political parties, and the transformation of political debate in liberal democratic nations. The project proved to be even more timely than anyone could have predicted as he obtained a front-row seat to the anger, desperation, and dissent that are driving some voters into the arms of the far right and stirring others to resist. Ultimately, he argues that the greatest threat comes not from outside, but from within—even established democracies are at risk of betraying their core values and falling apart.

Please join the Open Society Foundations as Polakow-Suransky discusses the perilous new political landscape that has been created by the reactions to the refugee crisis with Alia Malek, who has in her own work chronicled the war in Syria and traced the exodus of refugees into Europe and the United States.


  • Sasha Polakow-Suransky is a journalist and author, and was an Open Society Fellow from 2015–2016.
  • Alia Malek is a journalist and civil rights lawyer whose narrative nonfiction book, The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, was released this year.
Date: November 1, 2017
Time: 12:151:45 p.m.