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Monday, June 22, 2015

Eastern Europe Balking at EU Pressure to Accept Migrants

Slovaks protest EU imposed quotas for migrants
Bratislava, Slovakia (AFP) - At least 140 people were arrested Saturday after violence broke out at an anti-immigration rally in Bratislava attended by thousands of people in protest at EU quotas on migrant numbers, local media said.

The rally, organised by an anti-Islam group called Stop the Islamisation of Europe, drew up to 8,000 people, according to Slovakian media. Police declined to give an estimate.

Protesters included Marian Kotleba, the governor of a central Slovakian region and founder of the far-right People's Party Our Slovakia.

"I wish you a nice, white day... we are here to save Slovakia," Kotleba told the crowd.

Scuffles erupted between small groups of demonstrators and police at the end of the rally, leading to 140 arrests, the country's TASR news agency reported, citing local police sources. Six police cars were damaged in the unrest.

Earlier, at least one protester was taken into custody after using tear gas against the police, and some in the crowd were seen shredding a blue EU flag offered by one of the speakers.

After the rally, a group of protesters attacked spectators at a cycling show, local media said, adding that unidentified attackers also threw bottles and stones at an Arab family at the main train station.

The protest was called after the European Commission said in May that Slovakia, an EU and NATO member of 5.4 million people, should accept 471 migrants from Italy and 314 from Greece, as the bloc scrambles to deal with a surge in people illegally crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life.

On Friday, Prime Minister Robert Fico and his counterparts from neighbouring Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland affirmed that their countries were against quotas on refugee numbers imposed by the EU.

A June poll by the Focus opinion research agency, published on Saturday, showed Slovaks perceived the current wave of migrants heading to Europe as the hottest international topic, being mentioned by almost 22 percent of 1,018 respondents.

"The vast majority of the Slovak public... perceives migrants as a security risk for the country, or as an economic or social burden," said Focus head Martin Slosiarik.

Hungary also circling the wagons

Lydia Gall
Human Rights Watch

The country that helped tear down the Iron Curtain in 1989 is building a new one. On June 17, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government announced its plans to construct a four-meter-high fence on its 175 kilometer border with Serbia.

The proposed fence is the culmination of a several month long anti-migrant campaign by the government, which includes a national consultation on “migration and terrorism,” delivered through a questionnaire addressed to eight million Hungarian citizens that contains leading questions suggesting that everyone crossing into Hungary is an economic migrant, a terrorist – or both. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on June 10 condemning the national consultation and the questionnaire, calling on the Hungarian government to withdraw it.

The government has also launched an anti-migrant billboard campaign with messages, in Hungarian, saying things like, “If you come to Hungary, you can’t take the jobs of Hungarians” and “If you come to Hungary you must respect our culture.” Since few refugees and migrants understand Hungarian, these messages appear to be aimed more at Hungarian voters.

The move comes at a time of increased asylum applications in Hungary: double in 2014 compared to 2013, putting it in second place behind Sweden for the most asylum applicants per capita among European Union member states. Half came from Kosovo, followed by Afghans and Syrians. But they are not particularly welcome: only 9 percent of applications for asylum are accepted on the first attempt – the lowest rate in the EU.

Building fences is not the way to address Europe’s immigration and refugee demand. It will have no impact on the conflicts, human rights abuses, and poverty that drive people to try to reach EU territory. But it risks trapping people in Serbia, where Human Rights Watch documented serious abuses against migrants and asylum seekers by Serbian police and flaws in the asylum system.

UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, has described the fence as a “barrier to asylum” a statement echoed by the UN high commissioner for human rights who in a June 19 press briefing note said that the fence “may prevent asylum seekers … from accessing Hungarian territory.” The Council of Europe commissioner for human rights tweeted that the fence is “ill-advised.”

It’s also tragically hypocritical that Hungary, from where about 200,000 Hungarians were forced to flee in 1956 to obtain protection from Western countries, is currently closing its borders to those fleeing their countries for similar reasons.

Hungary should honor its human rights obligations and indeed its own history and keep its borders open to allow people to present their claims for asylum in a fair and transparent procedure.

Lydia's well written piece evokes some complex emotions, however, it fails to address the issue of the Islamization of Europe. Europeans have the right to protect their countries from losing their culture to Islam. Islam's aggressive nature will overrun all European societies and put all Europeans, eventually, and inevitably, under Sharia law, and under the abusive power of radicals dedicated to a demonic religion, if they don't stop the immigration of Muslims now.

This calls for drastic measures, the likes of which we are beginning to see. But what can realistically be done for these refugees? I have two suggestions: 1) move all Muslims refugees to Muslim countries; 2) If Muslims want to, or must come to non-Muslim countries, they must renounce Islam and cease to practice it under penalty of expulsion.

Yes, I know these are drastic proposals, but they are necessary. Also, if Muslim countries were to accept hundreds or thousands of Christian refugees, do you think they would not be required to abandon Christianity? Some countries, perhaps not; some countries definitely would.