Migrant Crisis

Three refugees were stabbed by a drunk pensioner outside a church on Saturday (17 February) in Denmark, where anti-immigrant sentiments have flared in recent years.

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A Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi man were injured in the knife attack in the northern city of Heilbronn. The 25-year-old Iraqi man was taken to hospital with severe injuries. The other two refugees were treated at the scene of the crime.

Heilbronn's mayor, Harry Mergel, condemned the attack and called on people to "treat refugees with humanity."

"I am deeply troubled by this revolting crime"

and my thoughts are with the victims. I hope they won't suffer lasting consequences," he said.

The attacker was a drunk 70-year-old man with dual German and Russian nationality, according to Danish news outlets.

He has since been released from custody. Police said he was released because he does not have a criminal record and that the crime is being treated as aggravated assault, rather than attempted murder.

The Heilbronner Stimme newspaper criticised the police for releasing the attacker.

"You can only shake your head at the fact that the police released a man who would have kept on attacking had it not been for the courage of people nearby. It is highly likely this was a racist attack and it could have easily led to death," the newspaper wrote.

Anti-immigrant sentiments have flared in Denmark in recent years, following the influx of over 36,000 people when the refugee crisis broke out at the start of 2015.

Since a harsh new immigration law, which allows Danish authorities to seize any assets exceeding over $1,450 (£1,038), was passed in January 2016 the number has drastically decreased. The law also extended the family reunification period from one to three years.

In December, Denmark opted out of the UN resettlement programme, after passing a law that allows the government to determine how many refugees enter the country instead of accepting a fixed Europe quota.

 

Hungarian leader Viktor Orban called on Sunday for a global alliance against migration as his right-wing populist Fidesz party began campaigning for an April 8 election in which it is expected to win a third consecutive landslide victory.

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Popular at home but increasingly at odds politically and economically with mainstream European Union peers, Orban has thrived on external controversy, including repeated clashes with Brussels and lately the United Nations.

Those conflicts, mostly centered on migration since people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa flooded into Europe in 2015, have intensified as the elections approach and Orban poses as a savior of Europe's Christian nations.

"Christianity is Europe's last hope," Orban told an audience of party faithful at the foot of the Royal Castle in Budapest. With mass immigration, especially from Africa, "our worst nightmares can come true. The West falls as it fails to see Europe being overrun."

Orban is widely credited for reversing an economic slump in Hungary and controlling its public finances, culminating in a return to investment-grade for its debt, which was cut to "junk" during the 2008 global economic crisis.

To achieve that and hold onto power the prime minister, 54, has used methods that critics have called authoritarian, and picked fights with EU partners, especially in the West. Eastern leaders, most notably in Poland, have followed his lead.

But migration dominates his agenda now.

Orban said on Sunday that Europe faces a critical fissure between nation states of the East and the West, which he called an "immigrant zone, a mixed population world that heads in a direction different from ours."

As the West wants eastern Europe to follow its lead, an increasingly vicious struggle was likely, he said, alluding to a plan to redraw the European alliance advocated by the leaders of France and Germany.

"Absurd as it may sound the danger we face comes from the West, from politicians in Brussels, Berlin and Paris," Orban said to loud applause. "Of course we will fight, and use ever stronger legal tools. The first is our 'Stop Soros' law."