Male Syrian Migrants Should Be Defending Their Homes Against ISIS

Milos Zeman says children, the old and sick deserve compassion but young single men fleeing Middle East should stay behind and take up arms

Milos Zeman’s Christmas message was criticised by the Czech prime minister
Milos Zeman’s Christmas message was criticised by the Czech prime minister Photograph: isifa/Getty Images  Agence France-Presse in Prague

The Czech president, Milos Zeman, has called the movement of refugees into Europe “an organised invasion” and declared that young men from Syria and Iraq should stay in their countries to “take up arms” against Isis.

“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organised invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” said Zeman in his Christmas message to the Czech Republic.

Compassion was “possible” for refugees who were old or sick, and for children, he said but not for young men who should be back home fighting against jihadists.

“A large majority of the illegal migrants are young men in good health and single. I wonder why these men are not taking up arms to go fight for the freedom of their countries against the Islamic State,” said Zeman, who was elected Czech president in early 2013.

Fleeing their war-torn countries only served to strengthen Isis, he said.

The 71-year-old evoked a comparison to the situation of Czechs who left their country when it was under Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945.