The speakers of the “Refugees Crisis Yesterday and Today” conference are warning about the striking similarities of the pre-World War II anti-Jew propaganda with the way some parts of Europe look at refugees today.

The conference, held on March 8 at AAU, shed light on how most of the conservative media portray refugees and create an informational vacuum of nationalistic propaganda similar to the one in the beginning of the 20 century.

“Ann Frank and Alan Kurdi are both victims of today’s society,” warned one of the participants of the conference, a journalist specializing on war crimes and human violations. He further explained that people today are too concentrated on their daily lives and ignore the horrors around them.

“Luck is the only thing that separates us from them (refugees),” he added.

Speakers on the conference. Photo by Hans Weber
Speakers at the conference. Photo by Hans Weber

Recent parliamentary elections in Slovakia showed the general attitude of the country’s citizens towards the refugees. Nationalists who were setting an anti-refugee propaganda won the elections and another neo-Nazi party was also elected to the parliament.

“It is a negative message that rose from fear and frustration,” said Aldo Amanti, an Italian ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Speakers also expressed their warnings about the possible collapse of the Schengen system and the need to re-locate the migrants. EU leaders are planning to spend 3 billion euros on the refugee crisis in 2016, however, the countries that are mostly affected by the developing events – Greece, Macedonia and Turkey – assured that the sum needs to be sufficiently raised.

Speakers at the conference. Photo by Hans Weber, one of the event organizers
Speakers at the conference. Photo by Hans Weber

Jaroslav Šonka, a teacher of European communication at the Charles University called Václav Klaus (former president of the Czech Republic) and Miloš Zeman (the currently serving) “populist campaigners” alluding to their anti-refugee agitation.

He also raised concerns about the alarming consolidation of power of Andrej Babiš (Czech finance minister and media tycoon).

Among other criticizers of the Czech position towards the refugees was Šárka Antošová, a specialist on migration from the Amnesty International, calling for more action and support. “Czech Republic could and should do more,” she added.

AAU’s student from Syria Hadi A. Khatib pointed out what the regime of Bashar al-Assad does to Syrian citizens and why they, including himself, had to flee.

About 60 people attended the conference, filling the whole room, with a surprising low turnout of the AAU students.

The President of AAU Alan Krautstengl gave a brief speech at the beginning of the conference, saying he was honoured to host the conference at the University.

“We stand for academic freedom, respect and mutual understanding,” he concluded about AAU community.


Head photo –  Wikimedia Commons