Eastern European Leaders Dangerously Crank Up Hate Machine Against Muslims
Eastern Europe, once under the “Iron Curtain” of the Soviet Union, is reviving its authoritarian ways to deal not only with the flow of refugees but with the Muslim populations already within its borders.
Following the attacks in Paris, Eastern European countries are expanding their blanket surveillance, curtails of civil liberties and hateful rhetoric in the public square.
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country keeps “under surveillance...all Muslims in the Slovak Republic territory,” noting that this is despite the fact that the majority of them are legal residents. This provoked outrage from the Slovakia Islamic Foundation, which said the PM's statement “publicly destroyed the myth that Slovakia's democratic and it's a free country.”
Meanwhile, Czech President Milos Zeman addressed a rally of anti-Muslim organizations, ironically in the same public space that sparked the Velvet Revolution against the authoritarian Soviet rule.
Prime Minister Viktor OrbÃ¡n of Poland gave a long speech targeting refugee populations, saying that the “citizens of Europe did not want hundreds of thousands of outsiders invading their countries by crossing their borders illegally, in an uncontrolled manner.”
Bulgaria's government tightened border controls and its Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said the entire continent should reconsider its border policies.
To be sure, Eastern Europe is much poorer than its neighbors in the West. Also, for the most part, these countries did not play the same role in destabilizing the region that the United Kingdom and United States did. But leaders are engaging in base xenophobia instead of making an argument for a more fair distribution of resources for refugee response.