The Central Council of Jews in Germany called Monday for a limit to the migrant influx because of problems with integrating the mainly Muslim newcomers, earning a quick rebuke from a pro-refugee charity.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has opened the doors to asylum seekers fleeing conflict in Syria, and arrivals from the war-torn country and other trouble spots are expected to reach one million this year.
“Sooner or later we won’t have a choice but to set an upper limit,” the council’s president Josef Schuster told Die Welt daily.
“Many of the refugees are fleeing the terror of the Islamic State and want to live in peace and freedom, but at the same time they come from cultures where hatred of Jews and intolerance are an integral part.
“Don’t just think about the Jews, think about the equality between men and women, or dealing with homosexuals,” he added.
In September, Schuster said that the European Union and Germany “have a duty to help the refugees who are fleeing from war or persecution. The Jewish community in Germany sides with the refugees and has started a lot of local initiatives to help them.”
Schuster’s remarks Monday were echoed by the Jewish Community organization (IKG) in neighboring Austria, another key country on the migrant trail facing a record number of asylum seekers this year.
“The question is how many refugees can a country accept. We have reached the end of our capacities,” IKG president Oskar Deutsch told journalists in Vienna on Monday.
He also warned of the risk of growing anti-Semitism as many of the migrants came from Middle Eastern countries.
Austria expects 95,000 applications for asylum this year and up to 130,000 in 2016, according to latest government figures.
But German non-government group Pro Asyl criticized Schuster’s comments, saying it was unfortunate the Jewish group was sharing the same position as the conservative Bavarian CSU party.
“It’s disconcerting when the CSU and the Central Council of Jews are in fact demanding that we suspend the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Pro Asyl’s head Guenter Burkhardt.
He stressed that article 33 of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention bars signatory countries from sending asylum seekers back to places where their lives or freedom are threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group or political opinion.