In the face of the largest refugee crisis since WWII, Czech President and cabinet want to turn asylum seekers away.
By BOHEMIST STAFF
PRAGUE – Anti-immigrant rhetoric reached new heights (or lows?) this week with Czech President Miloš Zeman and Deputy PM Andrej Babiš speaking out heatedly against offering legal refuge to the thousands of asylum seekers flowing from the Middle East.
Yesterday, in an OpEd for Expres.cz, a news outlet owned by MAFRA, which Babiš himself ultimately owns through his conglomerate Agrofert, the billionaire Minister of Finance said he does not believe in integration or multiculturalism and strongly denounced the European Union for imposing refugee quotas on its members and for failing to close the Schengen borders.
“But after this time, the events in Europe clearly say that in the Czech Republic we do not want even a single refugee, even temporarily,” Babiš wrote. “Or perhaps it seems normal that in Europe, failed asylum seekers and immigrants brutally murdered an old priest and a pregnant woman?”
The “think” piece called on NATO to defend the Schengen borders and turn asylum seekers away. (Unfortunately this is illegal under international law.) Babiš also called for an information scare campaign to be run in countries asylum seekers are fleeing from, instructing those fleeing war and persecution that there is no place for them in Europe. (This may be difficult in most cities in Syria where ad agencies aren’t exactly experiencing booming business these days.)
Babiš said that the Czech Republic should fight against accepting refugees, even at the risk of EU sanctions and likened the acceptance of refugees in France and Germany to “madness”.
President Zemen openly criticized the Prime Minister’s efforts to take in 80 Syrian refugees. The President said he was opposed to taking in any refugees so that they could not commit “barbaric acts” in the Republic.
In the wake of the divisive and politico-right wing comments, 60 Chinese asylum seekers have applied for refuge in Czech Republic, claiming they are persecuted because of their Christian beliefs in China. The handling of the case will be a test for the closening ties between Prague and Beijing.