Slovakia has said it will only accept Christian refugees under an EU relocation scheme. The country, due to receive 200 people under the EU plan to resettle 40,000 new arrivals, says Muslims would not feel at home there.
The Slovakian government, which will accept 200 people from camps in Turkey, Italy and Greece under the EU plan, denied that its decision to exclusively accept Christian refugees was discriminatory as it was intended to ensure community cohesion.
Slovakia's Interior Ministry spokesman Ivan Metik told the BBC: "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?
“We want to really help Europe with this migration wave but...we are only a transit country and the people don't want to stay in Slovakia.”
Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German Bundestag's foreign affairs committee, sharply criticized Slovakia for rejecting Muslim refugees.
He told radio station Deutschlandfunk that Slovakia's behavior is contributing to the failure of Europe, and that the country's egotism would torpedo the EU's ability to act.
EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard said she could not comment directly on Slovakia's decision, but emphasized that EU states were not allowed to discriminate.
Countries should take an 'inclusive approach' to refugees
The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) said countries should not discriminate when accepting refugees.
Babar Baloch, Central Europe spokesman for the UNHCR, said: "Resettlement is greatly needed for many refugees who are at extreme risk among the world's most vulnerable groups.
"We encourage governments to take an inclusive approach while considering refugees for resettlement and should not base their selection on discrimination."
There has been a sharp increase in the number of migrants at the EU's borders in recent months. In July, the figure reached a record high of 107,500, most of whom are Afghans, Syrians and sub-Saharan Africans fleeing instability or poverty.
EU member states agreed last month to take in 32,000 asylum seekers arriving in Italy and Greece over the next two years, less than the 40,000 target.
An attempt to impose a quota system to allocate refugees to EU countries failed after some nations such as Slovakia refused to accept the plan, so the scheme was made voluntary.
Germany, which accepts the greatest number of asylum seekers in the EU, has said it expects to receive as many as 800,000 applicants this year.
The soaring number of asylum seekers in Germany has led to rising tensions over immigration, with increasing numbers of attacks on homes for refugees.
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