Czech president uses Christmas message to warn of migrant "invasion"
Czech president Miloš Zeman has used his annual Christmas message to reiterate his strong opposition to Europe’s migration policies. Echoing sentiments previously expressed during the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on November 17, the Czech president warned of a Trojan horse-like organised invasion of Europe, and accused migrants of running after welfare benefits instead of fighting against Islamic State.
But the president’s most pointed and controversial comments were delivered on the subject of the European migrant crisis:
“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organised invasion, and not a spontaneous movement of refugees. Those who defend the immigrants talk of compassion and solidarity. But compassion is possible for the old, infirm, and primarily for children. But a large majority of illegal migrants are young, healthy men without families. I am asking: why don’t these men take up arms and battle for the freedom of their country and against Islamic State?”
The Czech president’s statement was reported by several global news outlets. Mark Micallef, executive editor of NGO Migrant Report, told Al-Jazeera that Miloš Zeman’s statement was an unhelpful portrayal of migrants as cowards, when in fact many were making courageous life-saving decisions.
I asked political commentator Jiří Pehe for his take on the president’s strong words directed against migrants: