Belgium's State Secretary for Asylum and Migration came under fire for implying that the country favors Christian asylum seekers over non-Christians, reports said.
In a message posted to celebrate the Easter holiday on his official Twitter account, minister Theo Francken from the far-right New Flemish Alliance (N-VA Party) said that Belgium has welcomed 903 Syrian Christian asylum seekers since 2015 and that he sees it as a "duty" to serve the Syrian Christians.
Non-governmental organizations criticized Francken's post for being discriminatory as he only touched upon the suffering of Christian migrants, even though others suffer just as much.
The NGOs highlighted that religion should not play a role to determine which people are accepted as asylum seekers and that the circumstances they face should be taken as the main criteria for processing their applications.
Francken's statements particularly disregard the suffering of Muslims and people from other faiths, who suffer at the hands of oppressive groups in Syria, NGOs noted. The minister had previously come under fire for anti-migrant statements. For instance, in 2017 he attacked aid groups for saving drowning migrants in the Mediterranean and told them to stop saving migrants heading to Europe.
The situation in the EU is getting worse and Islamophobia is on the rise, especially after the Daesh attacks in France and Belgium. While the citizens of EU member states persistently deny the fact that Daesh is killing more Muslims than any other demographic and refuse to acknowledge that Daesh does not represent Islam in any way, polls also suggest that Europeans still have an anti-Muslim stance.
France has always been caught in the middle of anti-Muslim discussions due to the fact that it contains the largest Muslim population in the EU, while Muslims are the most disenfranchised ones. In addition to France's dark colonial history, the country is accused of repeatedly attacking Islamic values under the pretext of preserving secularism, most recently seen with the burqa ban in Nice last year.