Ever since the migrant crisis broke out in Europe earlier this year, Germany has stood out for its support for the overwhelming number of destitute refugees coming to its shores from embattled regions.
On Aug. 29, thousands of people took to the streets of the German city Dresden to send a message of welcome to refugees following violent anti-migrant protests in the region.
However, not all European countries are putting out the welcome mat – especially when it comes to accepting Muslim asylum seekers.
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As if refusing to play a role in containing a humanitarian crisis isn’t bad enough, some eastern European countries are selecting refugees based on what religion they adhere to – and they are giving pretty pathetic excuses for this bias.
For instance, earlier this month, Slovakia’s interior ministry announced it would accept 200 Syrian asylum seekers under a new resettlement plan – as long as they were Christians.
“We want to choose people who really want to start a new life in Slovakia. Slovakia as a Christian country can really help Christians from Syria to find new home in Slovakia,” said Ivan Netik, a spokesman for the ministry, according to Reuters. “In Slovakia we have really tiny community of Muslims. We even don’t have mosques.”
Poland has a more or less similar excuse – only it’s even more outrageous. Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz stated that Poland, “as a Christian country,” has a special responsibility to help Christians. In addition, per the Financial Times, migrant applicants’ “religious background will have [an] impact on their refugee status applications.”
Bulgaria, a country of 7.2 million with 80 percent Slavic speaking Christian Orthodox population, argues incoming Muslim refugees threatens its demographic balance.
“Bulgaria has regions with Muslim population,” announced Prime Minister Boiko Borisov in April. “We have nothing against Muslims. But when more Muslims come from outside, they can abruptly change the demography of the country.”
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French and German leaders have described the European migrant issue as the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Thousands of people have lost their lives while traveling in dilapidated vessels or after being abandoned in trucks.
The world community is struggling to find a solution to what is clearly one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies of this decade. But discrimination on the basis of religion or race by host countries will only add to the woes of the people risking everything in pursuit of a better life.