Czech Interior Minister ends asylum programme

Under pressure from Interior Minister Milan Chovanec the government in Prague has put an early end to a pilot project for resettling persecuted Christians from Iraq. The move came after 25 of the 90 Iraqis participating in the project tried to move on to Germany to apply for asylum there instead of staying in the Czech Republic. The Czech press discusses the interior minister's reaction.

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Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Minister has a hard time with refugees

The liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny is outraged by the minister of the interior's reaction:

“It’s a clear-cut issue for the minister: the Iraqis are a thankless bunch, the programme is pointless. According to statistics, however, two-thirds of Iraqis want to stay. Furthermore, 60 more Iraqis have been promised asylum. Are we now going to blame them collectively? … In general the minister has a hard time with refugees, no matter whether they are coming to the Czech Republic or leaving. The logical and decent thing to do would be to go through with the project and then evaluate it. But logic long since ceased to play a role here.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Grist to the mill of anti-refugee movement

Following this incident Czech society will be even more hostile to refugees, the liberal daily Mladá fronta dnes believes:

“The illegal journey to Germany is grist to the mill of those Czechs who don't want to take in any refugees at all. How can you integrate tens of thousands of Muslims when you can't even manage a few dozen Christians? … With the integration of the Iraqis Prague was hoping to secure an alibi vis-à-vis Brussels: we don't want fixed quotas but we'll help voluntarily. … After this latest fiasco it will be much harder to make people understand why thousands of people are to be sent to the Czech Republic under the deal with Turkey even though Prague vetoed the move.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Interior minister has added fuel to the fire

The Czech Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec has accused the 25 Iraqis of ingratitude. Pure populism, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny criticises:

“Instead of putting a damper on public emotion and expressing regret for the failed integration project, Chovanec said the Iraqis had 'abused the goodwill of the Czech Republic and its population'. ... Did the refugees really abuse anything? Or did they simply continue to act as they have done in the past, heedless of the warnings about the potential consequences? Yes, it is right to deny them asylum and send them back to Iraq. But that doesn't mean they should be accused of abusing our country. Particularly not in a situation in which a large section of the population is already panicking because of the refugees.”