“We can contribute to the integration of those people, help officers go to refugee centres, tell the history of the Muslim community and tolerance among religions which developed in Lithuania 600 years ago,” Lithuanian Tatar Union’s chairman Adas Jakubauskas told BNS on Friday.
Figures from the 2011 census show that 3,200 Tatar people live in Lithuania and almost all of them are Muslim.
According to Jakubauskas, having lived in Lithuania for more than 600 years, Tatars have considerably contributed to Lithuania’s statehood.
“Lithuanian Tatars are Lithuania’s old-timers, having lived here for 620 years and shed their blood for its independence, took part in all wars with external enemies without exception and the 1794, 1831 and 1863 uprisings,” Jakubauskas said.
He believes that while making decisions on accepting refugees, Lithuania should recall the emigration of Lithuanian people to the West in the years of WWI and WWII.
The Tatar leader also said refugees were coming in order to save their lives, calling fears that terrorists would arrive in Lithuania “a groundlessly blown-out bubble.”
“I can only say that the Islamic State are bandits. And they hurt not only Christians but also Muslims,” he said.
“Our media should be aware that Islam cannot be identified with some groups who are pursuing political goals under the cover of one or the other religion,” Jakubauskas said.
Lithuania has agreed to accept 1,105 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea over the next two years.