The influx of refugees to Europe is forcing officials across the continent to say something—anything—about how they plan to address the crisis. Some might be better off keeping quiet.
From likening Germany’s intake of Syrian refugees to slavery to complaining about a shortage of barbers, some comments have been bizarre at best and offensive at worst. Here’s a roundup of some recent lowlights:
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán is unfazed by the criticism of his country’s tough treatment of migrants, warning of the “radically different culture” that the refugees bring to Europe:
Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.
Orbán has also dismissed calls for European leaders to share the burden of resettling refugees, noting that most of the migrants want to go to Germany. Thus, it’s ”not a European problem, it’s a German problem,” he said.
Speaking of Germany, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s anti-immigration National Front party, sees ulterior motives in Germany’s willingness to take in as many as 500,000 asylum seekers every year. This is not a humanitarian mission but cold-hearted economic exploitation, she said, according to Reuters:
Germany probably thinks its population is moribund, and it is probably seeking to lower wages and continue to recruit slaves through mass immigration.
As in Hungary, Slovakia’s interior ministry spokesman Ivan Netik questioned the ability of Europe to integrate so many Muslim refugees. Where will they pray?
We could take 800 Muslims, but we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia, so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?
Anti-immigration parties in Italy, the entry point to the EU for many migrants crossing the Mediterranean, have benefited from the rising tensions related to the influx. Northern League leader Matteo Salvini has previously dubbed the increased migration to an “invasion.” And he recently said that migrants with scabies, a skin condition, should give prime minister Matteo Renzi a “big hug.”
After mounting pressure, British prime minister David Cameron has been forced to soften his approach to immigration, but that hasn’t stopped members of his Conservative party from having their say. Adam Holloway, a Conservative MP, made a rambling point about questionable asylum claims by way of his local hair salon:
We have people in this country who have come here, have claimed asylum, and then they go back on holiday in the places they’ve claimed asylum from. I couldn’t have my hair cut the other day for that reason.
To the derision of fellow MPs in the chamber, he called the mixing of economic migrants and genuine refugees ”one of the appalling truths, if you like, of the Syrian bodies that are being washed up on the beaches.”