Czech President Milos Zeman (above right), known for his anti-migrant comments, on Saturday called the current wave of refugees to Europe “an organised invasion”, and that young men from Syria and Iraq should instead “take up arms” against the Islamic State (IS) group.
“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organised invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” said Zeman in his Christmas message to the Czech Republic released Saturday.
He went on to say that compassion was “possible” for refugees who are old or sick and for children, but not for young men who in his view should be back home fighting against jihadists.
“A large majority of the illegal migrants are young men in good health, and single. I wonder why these men are not taking up arms to go fight for the freedom of their countries against the Islamic State,” said Zeman, who was elected Czech president in early 2013.
He added that their fleeing their war-torn countries only serves to strengthen the IS group.
The 71-year-old evoked a comparison to the situation of Czechs who left their country when it was under Nazi occupation (1939-1945) in order to “fight to liberate the country and not to receive social benefits in Great Britain.”
It’s not the first time Zeman has taken a controversial stance on Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.
In November, the left-winger attended an anti-Islam rally in Prague in the company of far-right politicians and a paramilitary unit.
The country’s Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who has previously criticised the head of state’s comments, said Zeman’s Christmas message was based “on prejudices and his habitual simplification of things.”
A recent survey showed that nearly 70 percent of Czechs oppose the arrival of migrants and refugees in their country.