Czech President Milos Zeman has compared the refugees arriving to Europe with the Trojan horse, and called the influx an ‘organized invasion.’ His comments were met with outrage.
In his Christmas message, Czech President Zeman warned against welcoming asylum seekers and described the European culture of hospitality as naïve.
“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organized invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” he said in the speech broadcast on Saturday.
The 71-year old president also compared the refugees to the Czech nationals who left their country during the Nazi occupation, saying that the Czechs intended to “fight to liberate the country and not to receive social benefits in Great Britain.”
“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 head of state in early 2013.
The Czech president is known for his anti-immigrant attitude. In November, he attended an anti-Islam rally in Prague along with far-right politicians and a paramilitary unit.
Earlier in the year, he warned that the refugees might bring terrorism and infectious diseases to Europe.
Majority opposing the influx
In his Christmas message, Zeman also invoked a comparison to the Trojan war and the mythical prophetess Cassandra.
“Sometimes I feel like Cassandra, warning the Trojans not to bring the horse into the city,” he said.
In response, the country’s prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Zeman’s address was based “on prejudices and his habitual simplification of things.”
Only a small number of refugees passing through have chosen to stay in the Czech Republic, with the majority heading to Germany and other, richer EU members. Some activists have accussed the government of purposfully treating the newcomers badly, in order to fright the refugees away.
According to a recent survey, almost 70 percent of Czechs oppose the arrival of migrants and refugees in their country.