With the rise of populism, European solidarity risks being eroded by a clash of solidarities based on nation and religion. Ranging from hospitality to hostility, ‘refugees welcome’ to ‘close the borders’, asylum seekers from Syria and other war-torn countries test the very ideas upon which the EU was founded: human rights, tolerance and the free movement of people. European solidarity is not only rooted in philosophical ideas of equality and freedom but also in the memory of nationalism, war and violence. The response to refugees seeking asylum into Europe cannot only be resolved by appealing to emotions, moral sentiments and a politics of pity. Disenchantment with government, fear of terrorism and resentment towards foreigners weaken European solidarity at a time when it is needed most.