Protests in slovakia: thousands against immigration

In Slovakia, 8,000 people demonstrated against immigration because the country is to take in around 800 refugees.

According to Slovak media, about 8,000 people participated in the rally. Photo: imago/Xinhua

Slovakia is to take in nearly 800 refugees, thousands of people protested against this in the capital Bratislava on Saturday. As riots broke out, police arrested at least 140 participants in the protest against immigration and possible EU quotas for distributing refugees. According to Slovak media, about 8,000 people took part in the rally organized by an Islamophobic movement; police did not provide details.

Marian Kotleba, governor of an inland region and founder of an ultra-right party, also took part in the demonstration. "We are here to save Slovakia," he shouted to the protesters, wishing them a "beautiful white day." A 27-year-old mother, pushing her young son in a stroller in front of her, saw the "future of our children at stake." That’s why she had traveled especially from Hlohovec, some 70 kilometers away. A 45-year-old man named Dezider suspected the U.S. of wanting to "destabilize Europe" behind the "migrant problem." An EU flag was torn up in the crowd at Saturday’s rally.

The rally had been scheduled in response to a May proposal by the EU Commission to distribute refugees among member states. The plan calls for Slovakia, which has a population of about 5.4 million, to take in 471 refugees from Italy and 314 more from Greece. Germany would have to take in about 11,850 people under the Brussels criteria. Just Friday, head of government Robert Fico and his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland reiterated their opposition to the quota plans.

Attacks on cycling event and Arab family

At the end of the rally, smaller groups of protesters engaged in clashes with police. According to the TASR news agency, about 140 people were arrested. Those arrested would be interrogated and could face penalties for disturbing public order, damaging property and violence against police officers. At least one demonstrator was taken into custody for using tear gas against police officers.

According to TASR, six police cars were destroyed. Police also intervened to separate rally participants from about 200 counter-demonstrators.

After the demonstration, a group of rioters attacked spectators at a cycling event. Unknown persons also threw bottles and stones at an Arab family at the main train station.

According to the United Nations, around 60 million people worldwide are on the run. The EU foreign ministers will discuss the refugee issue on Monday, which will also be on the agenda at the EU summit next Thursday and Friday.