German Chancellor Angela Merkel lambasted nations that refuse to accept refugees who are Muslim, one year to the day after she opened her country’s borders to what would become over 1 million migrants and refugees.
“What I continue to think is wrong is that some say, ‘We generally do not want Muslims in our country, regardless of whether there is a humanitarian need or not’,” Merkel said during a speech at a German university.
Merkel continues to push other European nations on this issue. Last week, she toured many of the central and eastern European countries that have opposed accepting refugees. Government figures from Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland in particular have said they do not want to accept Muslim refugees.
When Merkel opened Germany’s borders last year, she faced internal condemnation from many in the country’s right-wing parties.
The United States has seen a similar controversy play out domestically, as Republican leaders like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have called for draconian security measures against the Muslim community and a number of state governors said they supported a block on resettling Muslim refugees.
Much of the criticism of Merkel and other leaders who continue to push for the resettlement of refugees comes from right-wing leaders who point to the ISIS attacks in Paris and Brussels in the last year. Merkel responded to this criticism earlier this month when she said that Germany’s problem with extremism and terrorism predates the recent acceptance of refugees.
“The phenomenon of the Islamist terrorism of ISIS is not a phenomenon that has come to us through refugees but rather one which we’ve already had here before,” Merkel told a crowd in her home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the Washington Post reported.
Merkel recently said she was willing to negotiate with countries unwilling to adopt refugees, if they agreed to increase their financial contributions to countries where refugees are resettling.
Another common criticism of Muslim refugees from the right wing is that they fail to integrate. But immigrant integration is a two-way street, where immigrants who try to integrate need to be accepted by the local population. Merkel sought to address that narrative in her speech this week by encouraging members from Germany’s large Turkish immigrant community to get involved in domestic issues.
“Those who have been living here for years and perhaps also have German citizenship should take part in the development of our country. If they want to, they are very welcome to do so,” Merkel said.