The president of the Czech Republic has claimed Muslim integration in Western Europe is “practically impossible”.
President Milos Zeman, 71, said during a televised interview that Islamic “culture” should not be taken into Europe, or else “it will end up like Cologne”, referring to the large number of sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the German city.
The 71-year-old, who is well-known for his outspoken anti-migrant rhetoric, said: “The experience of western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible.”
Using the Vietnamese and Ukrainian communities in the Czech Republic as examples, he added: “Integration is possible with cultures that are similar, and the similarities may vary.”
Mr Zeman's claim comes as Austria announced it will deploy its military troops to stop refugees from travelling through the country to get to Germany and beyond.
The new regulations, issued by the Austrian Defence Ministry, will see hundreds of migrants being denied access and sent back home.
Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Miki-Leitner told state broadcaster ORF: “What is the situation currently on the German-Austrian border? That only those who want asylum in Germany are being let through, and those who want to travel onward are sent back.”
Border officials reported more than 3,000 migrants who arrived using false identities had been sent back.
Slovenia is also considering the military option. A Slovenian Interior Ministry official reportedly said the country would have to decide on either taking similar action, or coping with the rejected migrants.
Austria has been engaged in talks with both Slovenia and Germany to find solutions to manage the influx of people.
In December, Mr Zeman claimed the large influx of refugees was an “organised invasion", which he later said Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for.
He told Czech Radio earlier this month: "The Muslim Brotherhood cannot start a war against Europe, it doesn’t have the power, but it can prepare a growing migrant wave and gradually control Europe."
According to the United Nations refugee taskforce, more than one million migrants - the majority refugees fleeing violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - reached Europe in 2015.
Few seeking asylum, however, chose to stay in the Czech Republic, with many seeing it as a route into the more prosperous Germany.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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