French officials refused this week to take in Syrian and African refugees who practice Islam. The far-right leaders have accused Muslim refugees of posing a threat to France's national security.
The council of the southeastern town of Charvieu-Chavagneux approved a statement this week that said the town would only accept Christian refugees because they “wouldn’t proceed to cut off the heads of their bosses,” according to reports. The comment referred to the beheading of Hervé Cornara by Yassin Salhi in June that occurred close to Charvieu-Chavagneux. After killing his boss, Salhi attempted to blow up a factory.
The City Council also referenced recent attacks in France, including a foiled train attack by an Islamic extremist in August and an attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January, when two brothers fatally shot journalists who lampooned Islam. The statement said that Christians would not, “attack trains armed with Kalashnikovs and would not gun down journalists in an editorial meeting.”
Earlier in the week, mayors from the cities of Roanne and Belfort said they would only be interested in accepting Christian families into their communities. Damien Meslot, the mayor of Belfort in eastern France, said he only wanted Christian families from Syria and Iraq because “they are the most persecuted.”
Some French political leaders and Catholic Church officials condemned the remarks. “You don’t sort [refugees] on the basis of religion,” said Prime Minister Manuel Valls Tuesday. “The right to asylum is a universal right.”
France’s President Francois Hollande has agreed to take in 24,000 refugees over the next two years, with roughly 200 refugees expected to be welcomed in France just Wednesday. By the end of the week, approximately 1,000 refugees were expected to arrive in France, according to France 24.
Meanwhile, National Front leader Marine Le Pen, France's far-right leader, claimed Tuesday that the majority of refugees in Europe were actually economic migrants, a fact not supported by statistics from humanitarian groups.
European Union officials unveiled a proposal Wednesday for the 28-member states to distribute 160,000 refugees based on a quota system that takes into account individual country's economic conditions. At least 850,000 people were expected to cross the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe over the next two years, the United Nations said Tuesday.