We were very concerned by the recent violent anti-immigration protests in Bratislava which occurred on June 20 – a date also celebrated as World Refugee Day. These are complex issues, and even in the United States there are multiple views of how best to address them. But we can all agree that at the core of the issue, we are discussing the lives of fellow human beings – women, children, and men – in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, and we have a moral obligation to help. The debate about how best to assist them should remain a reasoned, peaceful exchange of ideas.
We encourage politicians to refrain from using the current debate for political gain, and to avoid borrowing the inflammatory rhetoric of extremists and hate groups. It is up to leaders of all political parties to clearly condemn the recent extremist protests and their hateful slogans; if left unchecked, extremist rhetoric creates more space for hate and violence.
I have enjoyed a warm welcome during my five years in Slovakia, and admire the innovation, industriousness, and values of the Slovak people. I am confident Slovakia’s leaders can work together with their European counterparts to address the current challenge in a calm and dignified manner that demonstrates the best of Slovakia’s multicultural society.