Refugee Crisis Takes Center Stage in Czech Presidential Election
Video & News
Video & News
Czech presidential challenger Jiří Drahoš said he opposes the uncontrolled inflow of immigrants into the country, calling for refugees to be managed outside the European Union as the issue takes center stage in next week’s runoff election.
Drahoš, who will challenge anti-Muslim incumbent Miloš Zeman in the Jan. 26-27 second round of voting, said the country of 10.6 million can’t be forced to accept migrants it doesn’t want, according to an interview published by the Pravo newspaper on Thursday. On the same day, the paper carried an add paid for by Zeman’s supporters that said “Stop immigrants and Drahos, this country is ours.”
“We, as the Czech Republic, must be able decide ourselves who we want on our soil and who will live here with us,” Drahoš told Pravo. “If someone wants to live here with us, they have to go through standard asylum procedures and accept our laws and unwritten rules.”
While the Czech Republic has a tiny Muslim community -- it accepted only 67 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq last year -- the refugee crisis has lifted the popularity of anti-establishment politicians. The anti-Islam party called the Freedom and Direct Democracy, which supports Zeman and is calling to leave the EU, came in fourth in October elections.
During his first five-year term as president, Zeman has repeatedly linked Islam to terrorist attacks in Europe and warned that Muslim migrants will seek to impose Sharia law in countries where they settle.