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Slovakian Refusal to Accept Muslim Refugees Worsens the Dilemma for Syrians

Slovakian Refusal to Accept Muslim Refugees Worsens the Dilemma for Syrians

A Syrian refugee holds a baby in an Bulgarian refugee camp set in the town of Harmanli, south-east of Sofia on November 12, 2013. Credit: Nikolay Doychinova/ AFP
A Syrian refugee holds a baby in an Bulgarian refugee camp set in the town of Harmanli, south-east of Sofia on November 12, 2013. Credit: Nikolay Doychinova/ AFP

With the evolving migration-crisis that has been taunting Europe, Slovakia has announced it will only accept Christian Syrians as asylum-seekers. According to Ivan Netik, Slovakian Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Muslims “wouldn’t feel at home” in Slovakia.

Netik explained that “we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia; so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?”

Over the past two years, the discussion around the European migration crisis has been heated with the death of many ‘boat refugees’ while crossing the Mediterranean sea, raising the moral question whether Europe bears responsibility towards refugees and asylum seekers.

Undocumented migrants on a rubber boat in the Aegean sea. Credit: Reuters
Undocumented migrants on a rubber boat in the Aegean sea. Credit: Reuters

Most refugees risking the ‘deadliest migration route’, as Human Rights Watch named the Mediterranean Sea, are from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea or Somalia. Due to Europe’s migration policy – that forces refugees to ask asylum in the country that they arrive in – most refugees end up in Greece, Turkey or Italy.

Italy in particular has repeatedly asked for solidarity from its fellow European countries due to its resources being under great pressure from the floods of refugees. After the European Union announced a plan to mandatorily share the burden and distribute the influx of refugees among the nation states – today there are more people on the run, hoping to find safety elsewhere than there were during World War II – most European countries protested the decision. Consequently, a ‘voluntary’ pact was agreed upon to dividing a total of 40,000 refugees who are already in Europe. The pact mandates that each country voluntarily decides on the number of refugees it is willing to give asylum. So far, there has been only agreement on 32.000 refugees.

Syrian refugees gather at Syntagma Square calling for Greek government assistance. Source: Getty
Syrian refugees gather at Syntagma Square calling for Greek government assistance. Source: Getty

Slovakia has, like other Central European countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, mostly been showing reticent during the migration debate that the Mediterranean tragedy caused. After pressure from EU officials, the Slovakian government expressed its willingness to welcome 200 refugees. However, not only is this number much lower than the 1,100 refugees that Brussels asked for, but the Slovakian government also stated that all 200 refugees must be Christian.

According to Netik, this requirement is not discriminatory, but intended to ensure cohesion in the Slovakian community, which counts mostly Christians. Netik also emphasized that refugees consider Slovakia a ‘transit country’, instead of a permanent base for refugees. Furthermore, Prime Minister Robert Fico said in May that there might be terrorists among Muslim immigrants, claiming to come for work or a better life.

Refugees warm their hands at a refugee camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria, on Nov. 27. More Syrians are turning up in Europe. Many are trying to get to northern Europe, believing that is the best place to start a new life. Credit: Nikolay Doychinov/ AFP
Refugees warm their hands at a refugee camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria, on Nov. 27. More Syrians are turning up in Europe. Many are trying to get to northern Europe, believing that is the best place to start a new life. Credit: Nikolay Doychinov/ AFP

Earlier in January, Fico was quoted saying that Slovakia wouldn’t tolerate Muslim immigrants: “Since Slovakia is a Christian country, we cannot tolerate an influx of 300,000 – 400,000 Muslim immigrants who would like to start building mosques all over our land and trying to change the nature, culture and values of the state.”

Now, as it turns out, Slovakia won’t be tolerating even one Muslim immigrant. However, Slovakia is not the only Central European country resilient in its rejection to Muslim refugees. In its neighboring Czech Republic, a group called Bloc Against Islam started a petition with 145.000 signatures to keep Muslim immigrants from entering the country. Similarly, Poland has been acting upon its preference for Christian Syrians, before accepting to take in 2000 refugees – regardless of their religion – in July, writes the Financial Times.

A spokeswoman of the European Commission carefully reacted to the Slovakian position saying: “Let me remind you that in principle, we act here all in the letter and the spirit of the treaty which prevents any form of discrimination.” The secretary-general of the European Council Thorbjorn Jagland did blatantly call out Slovakia’s discrimination: “Refusing refugees on the grounds of their religion would be a blatant discrimination. Especially, during this unprecedented refugee crisis, there must be no place for xenophobia and discrimination.”

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  • ĽUBOMÍR

    Great Slovak people struggle for many year from Ottoman empires terror. Only wanting live in peace.

    Must respect our nation, our culture, our language this people doesnt. they want to make living like their country in our country. No to occupation

  • deadlock

    So what. Slovakia didn’t bomb Syria and they have no moral obligation to accept even a single person. If they decide to help, it must be on their own terms and obviously, the likelihood of Christians integrating into largely Christian society is much higher. I find that actually sensible.

  • Danusha Diane Goska

    Laurie Treffers is a nineteen year old Dutch chick and she feels she is mature enough and worldly enough to tell Slovaks and Slovakia what to do.

    Feh.

    • Momoyay

      shes a journalist and shes doing her job reporting and since shes a free human being she can give her own opinions.

      • GregMarcydaGama

        That’s not journalism; that’s OP-ED; know the difference?

  • محمد احمد

    I tottaly agree with you…. And I would like also to add that this will all stop when Europe, United state and Israel also stop interfering and supporting war crimenals, dectators and the so called “Islamic fanatics” in the middle east…and if we applied the same rule how come the international community agreed on the immigration of millions of jews to Palestine where the majority of population are muslims?!! Or in what right the British, French and Spanish invaded the middle east and other parts of the world under the allegations of saving those people and convert them to Christianity….and if you replied that this was also wrong ….so I think it is time for all to pay the price of there wrong doing…… I hope you read more about history before you write those inhuman comments 🙁

    • Danusha Diane Goska

      Always blame others. Never take responsibility for your own screw ups. Bravo, brave Muslim apologist.

      • محمد احمد

        This exactly what I wanted to say…take responsibility for your own screw ups 🙂

        • Paulo

          Do you really know your history? Christianity never invaded states to convert people by force, instead the cruzades were a response to the Muslim invaders that only had a story of force conversions! The interference of ocidental shouldnt have happen cause you were doing such a nice job killing yourselves!

          • Momoyay

            are you kidding ? Christianity NEVER invaded states to convert people by force ? sir , you dont know history

          • Paulo

            Give me one example of a nation/state and I mean a nation/state that was previously Muslim, Hindu…and that was converted to Christianity by occupying those lands and forcing the local people to embrace the religion up to 90% as the case in Muslim countries.

          • محمد احمد
          • Paulo

            Funny that my response to ur msg was deleted, I guess this is not a free speach forum…

          • محمد احمد

            Never never?!!! Not in Africa? Not in south America? Not in Australia? What about slavery? It it is you my friend who needs to read History from multiple sources not from one to know the truth…. 🙂

          • krzzz

            Uh yes it did. They’re called the “crusades”. Christian crusaders massacred Africans, South Americans and so on in an effort to convert the majority of the population. In addition, it’s also the reason why they “stole” people into the slavery industry in America. You sir, need to brush up on your history. Rofl.

  • Sean

    The Middle East is falling apart because of sectarian religious violence and tribalism. Moving Muslims to Europe will simply move their problems to Europe. Displaced Middle Eastern Muslims should be sheltered as close to their home regions as possible with the plan of returning them there. They can spend their time in the refugee camps considering if their religious dogma and inane tribal loyalties were worth destroying their countries over. This will save Slovakia and other countries the burden of taking in refugee populations that are almost certainly harboring ISIS war criminals and fundamentalist Muslims who will quickly wreck their safe and functional societies.

    Middle Eastern Christians are casualties of Muslim violence. Their communities are probably no longer viable due to widespread oppression. Muslims bear the shame of destroying these ancient communities and driving them from lands they have occupied for nearly two thousand years. Sadly, the only hope for the remnants may be to move to Europe and be absorbed into majority Christian populations.

    • Alnitek Altair

      iraq and libya are a result of failed foreign policies and nobody cares about syrians for their lack of natural resources.

      • Danusha Diane Goska

        Syrians should try solving their own problems.

      • Sean

        It is true that Iraq and Libya were destabilized, and in part due to foreign powers. What happened was that powerful dictators in these countries were removed. As soon as this happened, the tribal and religious hatreds under the surface immediately set out to destroy the countries, threaten their governmental infrastructure and ruin any possibility of peace.

        Let’s compare this to, say, Japan. After WWII, Japan was defeated and set up with a new government by the Allies. The Japanese immediately set about their economic and political recovery. Lacking a tribal culture or extreme religious sectarianism, they did not fight each other. They have a very low crime rate. They are a peaceful and productive society. Did you see them standing in long, orderly queues for aid after the tsunami that left their coast devastated and people hungry and cold? Those pictures are an iconic explanation for their success. They are not a people of the mob, of violence, of radical religious or tribal hatreds.

        Islamic Arab societies must stop blaming the west for their problems. If the deposing of a dictator is enough to throw their societies into complete upheaval, then the problem is not the west. It is that these countries need a tyrannical leader to terrorize them into living with each other. It is that the tribe or religious sect will take any opportunity to lord it over others, like toddlers clutching for the biggest cupcake, and mommy has to come along to make the peace.

        By the way, I care about Iraqis and Syrians. These regions are part of the cradle of civilization. They have a rich history. I know there are many good people there who are being victimized by the horrific situation going on. I wish them the best and hope they will get the peace they deserve.

        • GregMarcydaGama

          Brilliant commentary above and the reply as well.

    • محمد احمد

      Dear Sean, I do really apologize for my comment before, after realizin that some Arab countries refused to host the refuges!I have no right to ask anyone else’s to do so……:( I am deeply shocked and sad of how low we as Arabs reached in our morals……still I want to ask everyone not to blame Islam as a religion buy our own wrong doings as so called Muslims…..:(

News
@LaurieTreffers

Twenty-year-old Dutch journalist. Quite obsessed with women's rights, the Middle-East and truth. Thinks she still has the right to be a hopeless idealist.

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