These five countries could break European law with their policies on Muslim refugees

Several countries in Europe could be at risk of breaking EU laws on discrimination if they follow through with suggestions that they would only accept refugees if they are non-Muslim.

As Quartz highlights, senior politicians from several countries in eastern and central Europe have heightened anti-Muslim rhetoric in recent weeks as the continent's "migration crisis" continues.


At an EU summit in April, Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov said his country has "nothing against Muslims", but feared that if any more Muslims "come from abroad" the country's demography was at risk of "radical change".

Czech Republic

Czech president Milos Zaman has spoken out against accepting refugees from North African countries like Libya.

"Refugees from a completely different cultural background would not be in a good position in the Czech Republic," he said.


Estonia is another country which has spoken out against taking in Muslim refugees. "After all, we are a country belonging to Christian culture," explained Margus Tsahkna, the country's minister for social affairs.


Poland took in 60 Christian families from Syria in July through a non-EU initiative organised by British aid agency Operation Safe Havens. In the build-up to the scheme, prime minister Ewa Kopacz described Poland as "a Christian country" which had a special responsibility to help Christians. It has also taken in several other Christian-only groups explaining that "religious background will have [an] impact on their refugee status applications."


Earlier this month, interior ministry spokesman Ivan Metik said Slovakia would hand-pick 200 Christian refugees from camps in Turkey, Italy and Greece.

"We could take 800 Muslims," he told the BBC. "But we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia, so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?"

The problem for all these countries is that European law specifically prohibits discrimination based on religious background (as well as sex, racial or ethnic origin disability, age or sexual orientation).

Asylum must not be a lottery. EU Member States have a shared responsibility to welcome asylum seekers in a dignified manner, ensuring they are treated fairly and that their case is examined to uniform standards so that, no matter where an applicant applies, the outcome will be similar.

[Border] controls have to be carried out in a way which does not discriminate against a person on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

At times like these, it's always worth revisiting this cartoon which we think sums up the refugee crisis pretty well:

More: What this German football club just did highlights Britain's shameful record on refugees

Quiz: Do these countries have more refugees than Britain?

The Conversation (0)