World

Prince Charles: Anti-Immigrant Populism Echoes Nazism

| by Sarah Zimmerman

Britain's Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II's eldest son and heir to the throne, said Dec. 22 that the anti-immigrant rhetoric sweeping the world is reminiscent of Nazism.

During BBC Radio 4's breakfast news show, "Today," the prince came on as a guest contributor for the program's "Thought for the Day." He read a scripted monologue, urging listeners to rethink their stance on refugees, reports NBC News. He said current resentment toward Muslim refugees has "deeply disturbing echoes" of the 1930s persecution of the Jews.

"We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s," he said.

"That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is to me beyond all belief," he continued. "We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past."

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The Guardian reports the prince of Wales then cited facts regarding the nature of religious persecution in the modern world.

"According to the United Nations, 5.8 million more people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom,” he said. “The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land.”

He mentioned a recent report that found a spike in attacks on those adhering to minority faiths. Although he did not mention any politicians by name, many saw the speech as a reference to the rise of the far-right in the U.K. and the rest of Europe as well as the election of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Labor Member of the European Parliament Claude Moraes said it was "obvious" who the prince was referring to, and that the speech was an effective wake-up call to the country. 

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“It was a good intervention I think when the right and right-wing U.K. newspapers dominate the anti-refugee, intolerance, and anti-EU protectionist narrative," he said.

The speech was not popular with everyone. Far right U.K. Independence Party MEP Gerard Batten slammed Charles' comments, saying the prince is going against the policies that the people of his country voted for. The UKIP is strongly against immigration and has nationalist policies that include the U.K. leaving the European Union.

"It is unwarranted and unwise for the heir to a hereditary monarchy to criticize democratic politicians whose policies are popular with the general public," he said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. "Instead of seeing nonexistent phantoms for the 1930s, Prince Charles should recognize that the biggest threat to our liberal democracy is Islamo-fascism."

Sources: NBC News, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald / Photo credit: Korona Lacasse/Wikimedia Commons

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