PM Fico: Islam has no place in Slovakia

Prime Minister Robert Fico has returned to work – and also to pre-election rhetoric, forgetting in the process the country’s past and also its current interests, NGOs opine.

PM Fico on May 25. PM Fico on May 25. (Source: TASR)

In his first post-election interview for the TASR newswire, Fico used even harsher statements than before the election when he rejected the obligatory quotas proposed by the European Union, as well as “a coherent Muslim community”.

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“It may look strange but sorry... Islam has no place in Slovakia,” he said on May 25. He added that if anyone claims that Slovakia wants to be multi-cultural, they go against the very essence of the country. He fears that the arrival of thousands of Muslims “who will push through their case” would threaten the Cyrilo-Methodian traditions, on which Slovakia has been built.    

The prime minister cited negative experiences from other European countries: “I talked about it several times with the Maltese prime minister and he said the problem was not in migrants coming in, but rather in them changing the face of the country,” Fico said. He opined that it is the duty of politicians to talk about these things very clearly and openly; if this does not happen, we will repeat the events in Austria.

“If someone does not acknowledge this as a good example in connection with the migration crisis, if for someone the events in Germany with support of local political subjects are not enough – maybe if we had not taken the stance on the migration crisis which we took, everything would be different and the percentages would be divided in a completely different way,” he summed up for TASR.   

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Reactions of experts.... 

Political analyst Aneta Világi reacted by saying she was surprised by Fico’s stance, as she expected him to smoothen his previous anti-migration rhetoric – also due to Slovakia's upcoming presidency of the EU. She pointed out, though, that his statement is now more concerned with religion than with refugees. “But he adds fuel to the flames,” she summed up.

The prime minister sticks to his standard mindset when viewing the country; but he forgets history, Elena Gallo Kriglerová of the Centre for Research of Ethnicity and Culture opined for the Sme daily.

"Slovakia was a multi-ethnic country historically, and the prime minister denies the long-term ethnic diversity with his statements,” she says, adding that this means closing up the national state framework.

"Several thousand Muslims have been living in Slovakia for a long time, and they are fully integrated. They are involved in the operation of the society. They have enriched Slovak culture rather than threatening it," she sums up.

... and Muslims

"The repeated statements of Mr. Premier do not only harm Slovak Muslims but also the country’s interests as a sovereign country which is building its position on the international scene,” the Islamic Foundation in Slovakia reacted.

They added that the Muslim community in Slovakia is well integrated, financially self- supporting and virtually trouble-free. Friday prayers are in Slovak – which is not common even in western-European countries.

“Thus, we ask with what have we deserved to become the target of hatred not just on the internet and in public space, but also from those who should protect us based on their essential role and function,” Islam Online website reads.

The foundation deems it tragi-comic, as quoted by Sme, that Fico’s statements came on the same day that the government approved the nomination of Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák for the position of secretary general of United Nations – an institution whose very sense of existence is to fight against hatred and violence in the world. 

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