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Czech Protestants call on state to help Italy with refugees

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Prague, July 18 (CTK) – The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren has called on the Czech Republic to help Italy with refugees in reaction to the weekend statement by PM Andrej Babis refusing to take any, the church’s synodal council, its supreme body, announced in a press release on Wednesday.

It says the stance of the Czech Republic does not correspond to the principles of the civilised world based on Christian values.

Babis (ANO) said on Sunday that Czech Republic would not meet the Italian request to accept refugees from the group of 450 that had been rescued from a fisherman’s boat in the Mediterranean Sea.

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte asked the EU countries to help with the relocation of these migrants who had stranded at sea, but Babis rejected this. He said Europe must send a signal that illegal migration was inadmissible.

“We express our concern about this stance of the Czech government and we perceive this as a symptom of the lack of solidarity with the people in an imminent danger as well as our partners within the European community. By this negative stance, the Czech Republic is betraying the principles of the civilised world to which it wants to belong and which is built, among others, on the tradition and values of Christian belief,” the Evangelical Church says in its statement.

Babis said on Sunday that the admission of further illegal migrants was only worsening this problem.

Interim Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD), who is also heading the Interior Ministry, said the Czech Republic can help Italy in another way by offering experts and police officers. Prague is also prepared to participate in the operation in north Libya under Italian command, he added.

After the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren is the second biggest church in the Czech Republic. It is the strongest Protestant church in the country, having over 75,000 members in 2015, according to its website.

Almost 1.1 million people professed to be Roman Catholics, which was about 10 percent of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic, in the latest census in 2011.

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