No entry? Sweden’s far-right calls for vote on immigration, French want to shut borders
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s right-wing National Front party, declared that immigration should be brought to a halt, calling for the country’s borders to be closed. Meanwhile, the far-right Sweden Democrats say a referendum should be held on the issue.
“It’s time for a referendum in Sweden on our immigration policy,” party leader Jimmie Akesson told supporters during an annual summer speech, AFP reported. His party, the Sweden Democrats, has recently come in at the top of a Swedish opinion poll for the first time.
Having accepted 80,000 refugees last year, Sweden has taken on the burden of accommodating the largest number of migrants in the EU as a percentage of the native population. Sweden’s migrant-friendly policies have long made it one of the most favored destinations among asylum-seekers.
“What is it that makes people risk their lives and those of their children to come here? I dare say it is the other parties’ lax policies that cause many of these tragic fates. That cause death,” Akesson said.
In France, criticism of the “migrants wave” that has swept over Europe was one of the key points of Marine Le Pen’s speech at the Brachay commune in northeastern France on Saturday.
“The immigration situation today in France is completely out of control,” the political leader declared both on Twitter and in her speech ahead of regional French elections. The leader of France’s National Front claimed that 99 percent of rejected asylum seekers remain in France, stressing that “this figure must be reduced to zero.” She also asserted that “national borders are needed for France.”
"Il faut à la France des frontières nationales." #Brachay2015— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) August 29, 2015
Although the party’s official program has previously called for legal immigration to be reduced from the current 200,000 migrants entering France per year to 10,000, its leader has now gone even further, demanding that no migrants at all should be let into France.
“My goal is simple: to stop both legal and illegal immigration,” she posted on Twitter.
Maintaining that the practice of providing social and medical support to asylum-seekers should be put to an end, Le Pen also suggested that Islam should not be welcomed in France.
"Le halal n'a pas sa place dans les cantines scolaires !" #Brachay2015— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) August 29, 2015
“Halal has no place in school canteens,” she tweeted, adding that construction of new mosques should be frozen, “radical mosques shut down,” and foreign Islamists expelled.
Well-known for her anti-migrant rhetoric, Le Pen’s speech comes not only at the kickoff of the new political campaigning season in France, but also in the midst of the worsening refugee crisis in Europe. As 3,000 migrants arrive daily at the Macedonian border en route to the EU, with over 2,500 crossing from Serbia into Hungary in just one day this week, European leaders have yet to agree on comprehensive measures to deal with the wave of refugees.
While troops are being deployed by some countries to prevent desperate people from the Middle East, North Africa, and other troubled regions from reaching the EU, tensions are growing among local populations, with flashes of violence towards asylum-seekers erupting in many European countries.