The Belgian Minister of immigration responds to the controversy over previous statements on "Iraqi refugees"

The Belgian Minister of immigration responds to the controversy over previous statements on "Iraqi refugees"

Shafaq News / The Belgian Minister of Asylum and Immigration of Iraqi origin, Sami Mahdi, said that the statements attributed to him regarding his intention to deport Iraqi refugees are not accurate, stressing that his country will not deport anyone "it knows he is threatened with death".

In an exclusive interview with the "Irfaa Sawtak" website, Mahdi confirmed, "most of what was reported in the media does not reflect an accurate picture of what I said, as I did not specify a nationality. My speech referred to immigrants residing illegally in Belgium".

The young minister's statements sparked controversy among Arab social media activists, "because the father of the Belgian minister is an immigrant and a refugee in the first place".

The Iraqi Minister of Immigration and Displacement, Evan Faeq Jabro, refused "any forced deportation of Iraqi refugees", and said in a statement published on the ministry's website, "We support voluntary and not forced return. We will invite the Belgian ambassador to a meeting to discuss this file".

Mahdi attributed the Iraqi ministry's response to "a misunderstanding in the circulating translation of the statements", which, "usually leads to bad results by all parties".

"We are ready to cooperate and build bridges between us and our colleagues in Iraq and other countries, for the sake of an organized and legal movement of migration and asylum", Mahdi said.

The Belgian minister added, "the priority in accepting asylum and protection requests is for those threatened to lose their lives due to wars and other disasters", adding, "As for those who come to Belgium and seek asylum there just to improve their economic situation, I tell them that their situation cannot become better as long as they live illegally".

Mahdi said during his controversial interview with the Belgian TV "vtm" that his ministry intends to increase "the number of deportation centers" to facilitate the return of those whom asylum applications were rejected to their countries, according to the law.


The minister said that the fact that his father is an Iraqi "does not change anything," noting that many Iraqis have voluntarily returned to Iraq when their earlier asylum applications were rejected.


The young minister (32 years) is the candidate of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V). He assumed his position at the beginning of October, within a new cabinet, after a year and 4 months had passed without an official government in the country.

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